August 24, 2004

527s and Independent Ads

I've heard the term "527" recently because of the whole Kerry-bashing ad flap. I don't really know what a "527" is, and I bet you don't either, but I'm willing to bet it's a tax-exempt designation that carries with it several regulations about financial sources and expenditures.

John Kerry has called for George Bush to condemn a particular ad placed by a particular 527 organization. George Bush, in turn, has called for the elimination of 527s and the elimination of all ads from independent organizations.

This is both a tremendously bad idea and right in line with what Bush, Cheney, and Ashcroft have been pushing towards: a curtailment of free speech, a restriction on non-approved opinions, and consolidation of power among government and big-money elite powerbrokers.

The mainstream media, cynically, went right to the budget numbers in assessing whether John Kerry would join Bush in condeming all independent speech on candidates and elections. As it turns out, the numbers seriously favor Kerry--independent 527s have raised many times as much for Kerry-related speech than for Bush-related speech. The mainstream media, being fed a line they can all parrot with interesting graphics and charts, stopped there.

Instead, they should have continued to explore the first amendment and how 527s are vital for allowing independent--truly independent--groups to speak out on political issues and political candidates. 527s can do what the mainstream media has so far this campaign failed, in general, to do: express opinions that do not come directly from the spokespeople of the candidates.

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