Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

April 3, 2000

Electoral Follies
Paul Says Gore's Plan is Hypocritical, Would Ruin Free Elections

This week, Vice President Gore announced his plan to establish a new government-controlled endowment that would fund candidates who seek positions in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. It was only a matter of time before those who had been seeking to restrict free elections would propose a total government takeover of campaigns. Vice President Gore has done just that.
I have long advocated sweeping changes that would open up elections here. I have suggested that federal spending limits be abolished, and that presidential debates be opened. I have also worked for years to make ballot access easier to attain. The problem with elections is not that there is too much money involved, but rather that choices are restricted by government policies crafted by incumbents who want to be protected from competition.
I believe in competition, in the economic marketplace, and in the marketplace of ideas also. For political purposes, the marketplace is an election and that marketplace ought to be free from federal interference and government restrictions. Our founding fathers gave no power over political campaigns to any federal bureaucracy. Indeed, they would have recoiled at the very notion. But in the current "anything goes" Clinton-Gore administration there is no barrier against what will be proposed by those who seek to maintain political power.
Let's face it, even the liberal national media openly reported that Gore was primarily trying to defend himself against his own past. That is, he proposed these so-called reforms as an attempt to make folks forget about his fundraising at Buddhist Temples and from telephones inside the White House.
In trying to conjure up what he calls, "a controlling legal authority," Gore has proposed not campaign finance reforms, but rather campaign restrictions. Forgetting for the moment that it would take an awful lot of trips to the Buddhist Temple to raise the $7.1 billion dollars that Gore seeks for this endowment, let me just address how this money would be spent.
First, we must realize that a new board would be empowered to govern this endowment. The board would undoubtedly be populated by political patronage appointees, but aside from that we should ask where in the U.S. Constitution the federal government is given authority to provide for such a board. The short answer is that no such authority exists, and only tinkering with our Constitution at the expense of the bill of rights can in fact create it. Moreover, this money would almost certainly be apportioned among certain favored political parties. Would so-called minor party candidates be funded? Would incumbents receive more of this taxpayer funding than challengers? Would candidates be funded in primaries? Who would decide all of these things?
With those kinds of questions outstanding we can be certain of one thing, whatever the final details, some candidates would certainly be treated differently than others. It is an obvious breech of equal protection to suggest that only Democrats and Republicans would get funded. On the other hand, do we really want our taxpayer dollars going to fund candidates of, say, the Socialist and Communist parties? Perhaps the Vice President feels that funding the Socialist Party is fine with him. Based on his voting record in Congress, that would not surprise me.
Vice President Gore's proposal can only be marked down as a cynical and hypocritical attack on the very idea of free elections. Rather than trying to protect his own political backside by attempting to restrict free campaigns, Vice President Gore should use the authority of his office to impress upon the Attorney General the need for a full investigation into the laws that were violated in the 1996 campaign. Instead of proposing new laws and new bureaucracies, the Vice President and his ilk should simply come into compliance with the existing laws for which they claim such strong support.