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John McCain's Progressivism

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I am starting this thread, as a resource for anyone interested in John McCain's Progressivism.


McCain vs. Madison

McCain's progressivism may be seen mostly clearly in his primary legislative project: the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The First Amendment to the Constitution is not Progressive. It gives greater weight to the right of the individual to speak, to write, and to associate than to any collective purpose the government might have in suppressing speech. That right includes inevitably a right to spend money to speak, to write, and to associate. Without the right to spend, the other rights would have no concrete meaning.

In contrast, Progressives see speech as a means to a collective good -- improved public debate -- attained by government restrictions on individual liberty. In this view, free speech and free spending are mere self-interest or selfishness, vices to be overcome by benevolent censors.

For McCain, such self-interest should be sacrificed to the higher cause of "clean government." Hence, McCain's infamous statement on Don Imus's radio show: "I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government."

John McCain: Pseudo-Maverick III

Of course, the cover of The New Yorker is an example of the First Amendment in action. John McCain is no friend of the First Amendment. He and his partners in the Senate and House would like to see it reinterpreted - that is, circumvented in a campaign of special pleading - so that any group of citizens that does not meet their perception of a legitimate organization as defined by the byzantine logic of the McCain-Feingold or Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act will be denied the right to criticize candidates, incumbent candidates, and even oppose or endorse issues if a certain amount of money is or is not spent in an arbitrarily specified way. The Supreme Court in June 2007 ruled one of the Act's strictures "invalid," when it ought to have found the entire act in violation of the First Amendment.

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