Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column
August 3, 1998
Washington 'solutions' to voter frustration are dangerous
Debate must instead focus on limited government and liberty

Last week Congress began debate on what is referred to in Washington, DC, as "campaign reform." I find it amazing they can call what was proposed "reform" with a straight face. In reality, most of what was put forward has little to do with the real problem.

Most of the talk about campaign reform has been empty rhetoric, designed to seem worthwhile in a television sound bite, but not much else. For all the talk, the legislation being tossed about amounts to little more than protection of incumbents and the status quo.

The politicians in Washington talk about the need to "reform" fundraising laws by reducing the ability of Americans to participate in the system, giving those in power more power, and those on the outside less of a voice. As those on the outside have correctly pointed out that the system is corrupt, the response from Washington has been to claim that money is root of the problem, and to ignore the regulations that obstruct competition in the process.

But that is not the way I see it. The problem is power - i.e., too much of it in the hands of too few people. The problem with our system of elections is not that we have too few rules, regulations, agencies and commissions governing our lives - we have too many.

Yet those in Washington see that the way to deal with the criticism is to create more red-tape and more restrictions on the way citizens participate in the political process. And therefore more frustrations.

Consider this: Only 80 percent of the eligible citizens register to vote. Of this, 22 percent register as something other than a Democrat or Republican. Doing a little math demonstrates that of the total population of the eligible voters in the United States, more than 40 percent of the people are either an independent or "third party" voter, or they are simply so frustrated or annoyed with the system they no longer participate. That 40 percent block is far larger than the Democrats or the Republicans (around 30 percent larger).

This means 40 percent of the people effectively have no representation in the political process.

And the politicians in Washington are doing everything they can to make that number grow. With every new law, regulation, restriction, and set of bureaucracies, and with every new tax and fee, people are throwing their hands up in the air, mad that they feel their voice is not heard, and that they cannot make a difference.

And so those in Washington answer the frustration by creating new levels of frustration by further restricting the abilities of the pro-lifers and pro-abortionists, the unions and the right-to-workers, the fascists and the libertarians, the socialists and the capitalists, from being heard. Lawmakers say they abhor a monopoly in the marketplace, yet they entertain laws to ensure their duopoly power grows.

Our system of elections will not dramatically change until our politicians attitude towards government is changed. As long as government has so much power over so much over lives, there will be people wanting to buy influence and create ways to keep others from doing the same. If our federal government did only those things authorized by the Constitution, there would be very little incentive for powerful "special interests" to try to influence congressmen.

While it is easy for the politicians in Washington to try and blame our problems on too much freedom, the real problem is that our government has drifted from protecting liberty to managing a nanny state. Increasing the size of government and its influence over elections cannot help; defending and enhancing personal liberty can.