04 February 2008

John McCain's Attack on the 1st Amendment

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

John McCain will be unable to honestly take this oath of office. As we've seen through his passage of McCain-Feingold and his attacks on 1st Amendment rights he is incapable to say the words "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution" without chocking.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Let's begin with his attack on the 1st Amendment with McCain-Feingold.

Dissenting Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia called it “a sad day for freedom of speech.” And so it was, because the Court’s decision upholding the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform presages more assaults on our First Amendment rights.

Let’s be clear about what a slim majority of the nation’s highest tribunal approved: The Constitution says “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,” but Justices Stevens, O’Connor, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer say Congress can legally silence political speech expressed in TV “issue ads” beginning 60 days before a general election and 30 days before a primary.

This is a huge blow to the 1st Amendment. 30-60 days before an election is just when the electorate is starting to pay attention to any issue. Beside for the fact that it has been established that monetary donations are considered "political speech". To limit political speech in any form is detrimental to our democratic system.

Whether we like these "issue ads" are not, they are necessary. Every voter out there has the right to hear about the candidate's position on a topic. These topics range from guns to health care to children's education from both sides of the aisle. In fact, this is not a Democrat or Republican issue... it is an American issue.

There are people who believe that "special interest" groups are bad news. This is a complete misunderstanding of the situation. For example: If I am an older American, while I may be retired, I do not have the time or energy to go to Washington DC to speak to my representative about issues that concern me. Instead I may decide to join the AARP, one of the largest "special interest" groups out there. I pay my annual fee - and they do the work for me. This holds true for all interest groups, no matter the issue.

Democracy is about individuals being involved in governmental affairs. We are no longer in ancient Athens, where Athenians themselves sat on a hill and voted on each issue themselves where it was a direct democracy. The United States is a republic, which means that we are a representative democracy. We send people to Washington to represent us whether as a Representative, Senator or President. In this same way, we send our other representatives - the "special interest" group of our choice to Washington as well.

McCain wants the American people to believe that "special interests" are bad for elections and politics in general. He doesn't doesn't blink an eye when confronted with the little "problem" of the Bill of Rights.

He [Michael Graham] also mentioned my abridgement of First Amendment rights, i.e. talking about campaign finance reform....I know that money corrupts....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.

By limiting monies going into the electoral process by way of political advertisements he believes that the American citizen is stupid and incapable of making up their own mind about what is good for them. Certainly at the worst, he doesn't believe in upholding the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

An important point of clarification here. The Bill of Rights does not bestow its rights on the American people. These rights are "inalienable" and given to us by G-d. The Bill of Rights codifies and protects these rights from government infringement. The concept of the Bill of Rights was seriously discussed during the Constitutional Convention Debates.

The first consideration that this review suggest, is the omission of a BILL OF RIGHTS, ascertaining and fundamentally establishing those "unalienable and personal rights of men, without the full, free, and secure enjoyment of which there can be no liberty, and over which it is not necessary for a good government to have the control.

Pennsylvania Minority Dec. 18, 1787 (Ketcham 247)

The freedom of press was of concern to a Pennsylvania anti-federalist "Centinel" when analyzing the Constitution before a Bill of Rights was included. We must take his words to heart.

The framers of it [the Constitution], actuated by the true spirit of such a government, which ever abominates and suppresses all free enquiry and discussion, have made no provision for the liberty of the press, that grand palladium of freedom, and scourge of tyrants; but observed a total silence on that head.

"Centinel" Number I Oct. 5, 1787 (Ketcham 236)

The 1st Amendment is not to be trifled with. It is one of the ten building blocks on which this country was founded. The Constitution would not have been accepted without the Bill of Rights.

No Democrat or Republican, or even John McCain has the right to trample of the first of these G-d given rights. These rights do not belong to the government to parcel out to whom they choose. And without a doubt it is certainly not theirs to decide who gets to watch what advertisements on television 30-60 days before an election.

Quotes for the Pennsylvania Minority and "Centinel" are taken from The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Conventional Debates, edited by Ralph Ketcham.

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