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March 19, 2001 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-03-19

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- the Michigan Dany - - Monday, March 19, 2001

be £tdi i un i Ilg


Why campaign finance reform is necessary

SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion ofthe majority of the
Daily s editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily

ed, corporate
big shots to fill cushy for-
eign-service jobs in beau-
tiful locations. Openings
include Paris, London,
Rome and Vienna. Perks
include free residence,
diplomatic immunity and
ability to represent the United States. The best
applicant will have aggressively raised hun-
dreds of thousands of dollars for the Republi-
can Party, be excessively rich themselves,
have a long-standing personal relationship
with the President of the United States and lit-
tle or no foreign experience. Please submit
resume (noting dollar amounts raised for
GOP), bank statement and size of stock port-
folio to: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington
D.C. This ad apparently appeared in every
conservative magazine's want ads in recent
weeks, as applications for these positions are
flooding the White House.
It's time to appoint some ambassadors, so
the White House, as has been the case for
years, is opening its file of friendly donors and
beginning to pay them back. So goes the sys-
tem of "democracy" practiced in the United
States today. Money buys access. Money buys
influence. Money buys appointments.
The New York Times, in a story yesterday
headlined "A Mad Scramble by Donors for
Plum Ambassadorships," reported that major
fundraisers and donors to the campaign to
elect George W. Bush are engaged in fierce
lobbying efforts to receive jobs everywhere

from Dublin to Paris to Vienna.
This group's membership, composed
largely of men who donated the maximum
amount allowed to the Bush-Cheney 2001
Presidential Inaugural Committee and raised
huge sums for the campaign effort, holds titles
that certainly qualify them to represent Ameri-
ca on foreign soil, one would think. But those
titles listed in the Times were, in no particular
order: agricultural business investment banker,
horse breeder, major league baseball team
owner and prominent Washington soft-money
donor. With these men in positions overseas,
we may see quality intramural polo and base-
ball teams and perhaps some increases in
French farm production, but that's about it.
To me, it seems two qualifiers should be
placed in front of the name of each of these
Ambassadors-to-be: long-time Bush friend
and very, very rich. Its odd that this jockeying
for position occurs just as the Senate is poised
to take up - again - the McCain-Feingold
campaign finance bill. This legislation,
blocked for years by a small but powerful
group of Republicans, seems more necessary
than ever right now. This campaign cycle saw
soft money donations - the unrestricted dol-
lars given to political parties - reach unthink-
able heights. All tolled, $500 million in soft
money alone was raised for this cycle - every
cent of which would be banned under the pro-
posed new law.
Some opponents say this bill would have
little effect on the system. Other opponents
cite their ability to read the Supreme Court's
mind and say the bill is unconstitutional. Still
other opponents say the millions of dollars

poured into the system by corporations, unions
and wealthy individuals actually benefit the
public. And not surprisingly, these people are
the same people who benefit the most from
giving the money: The donors on one hand
and the politicians who reap the rewards on
the other. This is not a partisan epidemic, as
the parties raised similar amounts of soft
money this year. This is a national problem,
one that disenfranchises the masses by giving
great power to the few. Candidates take
money, use it to influence the people and then
reward those who gave by making their vote
(read: money) more important during their
term in office. People who think campaign
finance reform isn't necessary need look no
further than the patronage system of ambas-
sadorships to see that money in the system
hurts our democracy. If the measure is uncon-
stitutional, let the Supreme Court at it and
we'll end the debate on this issue. If million-
aires are upset that they may lose influence,
tough luck.
Try living with the plebes for a few years
and you'll see why the system as it is today
is unfair. The Senate is debating this mea-
sure as you read this column. This year's
presidential election proved that on Election
Day every vote matters (whether it counts is
still debatable). By passing campaign
finance reform, we'll have a system in
which every vote counts after Election Day
as well.

Mike Spahn's column runs every
other Monday. Give him feedback at
www.michigandaiy.com/forum or
via e-mail at mspahn@umich.edu.

-c v

Candidate wrongly
barred from MSA
presidential debate
Yesterday, debates took place on campus
for the upcoming Michigan Student Assembly
presidential elections. Among the candidates
for president is Galaxor Nebulon of the Friends
Rebelling Against Tyranny Party. I was dis-
turbed to hear that when Nebulon came to the
WOLV broadcast of the debates, he was
refused the use of microphones and prohibited
from being able to actively participate in the
debates. What is the reason for denying a can-
didate equal access to public forums?
Supposedly a "rule" is written stating that
participating parties must have had at least 5
percent of the vote from the previous MSA
elections. Remind you of our national presi-
dential elections? A rule like this only makes
the race easier for those who already hold
office. I had never heard of this rule before
today and apparently neither had Nebulon
(who ran last year as well). And if this rule
exists, then why are the new parties this year,
the Michigan and University Democratic par-
ties, able to participate when they obviously
could not have had a 5 percent vote from the
previous year? Not only that, but do we not
remember the role that Chip Englander (vice-
presidential candidate for the Michigan party)
had in getting the no-longer existing Wolver-
ine party removed from last year's election? At
least the FRAT party plays by the rules.
An obvious explanation for this is the back-
ground behind the FRAT party. Last year, the
FRAT party was seen as a joke, and did not
instill the "seriousness" of the other student
parties on campus. Perhaps the FRAT party is
not a typical political party, but their ideas
might actually challenge and bring some
unique changes to the MSA board and the uni-
versity in general. The FRAT party is reminis-
cent of the Pail and Shovel Party at the
University of Wisconsin at Madison, which
won the 1978 election to UW student govern-
ment and brought pink flamingos to their cam-
pus and a bust of the Statue of Liberty on one
of the frozen lakes. Today the founders of this
group are known for their production of "Mys-
tery Science Theater 3K." Although the major-
ity of student politicians on campus whose
standard terms in MSA look nice on a resume,
those who ran the Pail and Shovel Party -
you can call them pranksters or whatever you

Have you
seen ny
-l your
bae r

27 yr. old SM
with a huge sign
looking to meet
hot women

Dm I '




s rrr rr rrrr-_

Suggestions for a new Hideki sign


like - are a lot more remembered for making
an impact on campus than most run of the mill
student political parties.
Perhaps MSA representatives who made
the ruling do not agree with the ideas or moti-
vations of the FRAT party - so, they can
choose to not vote for that party if they like. It
is as simple as that. However, give the rest of
the educated students on campus the chance to
judge for themselves whether they want to take
the FRAT party seriously as a party and
whether or not they want them running our
campus government.
LSA senior
Putting ads in the Big
House like spraying
graffiti on a church
I have been in love with Michigan football
for my whole life. I've spent fall weekends in
the Michigan Stadium for years. I love that
stadium. Even Bill Martin's announcement
Thursday regarding the rise in ticket prices
hasn't fazed me; I will buy season tickets.
However, when I read the March 15 press
release, I was infuriated. Martin has suggest-
ed that "Stadium advertising" could be used
to help raise funds for the ailing Athletic
Department. I believe that the charm of our
stadium is the bare brick wall surrounding the
field, the general freedom from clutter and
marketing. To students, alumni and many oth-
ers, Michigan Stadium is a shrine, and to put
advertisements on our stadium walls would

be like spraying graffiti on a church. Does the
Athletic Department actually believe that if
the alumni didn't want the Halo they'll want
advertisements? Our stadium is a symbol of
bygone college days, days to come, and how
great it is to be a Michigan Wolverine. I'd
rather see our ticket prices go through the
roof than see our stadium destroyed by a bud-
get deficit.
LSA sophomore
Hideki, an outsider,
fulfilled promises
As an University alumnus, my source for
campus information is the Daily's online edi-
tion. Having read a number of articles about
Hideki Tsutsumi, I have made a few observa-
tions I would like to share.
When I was at the University in the '90s,
the Michigan Student Assembly served as a
place for students to play politician with
some real money and be ignored by most
people on campus. They made silly resolu-
tions like denouncing foreign leaders and
voting against poverty.
Tsutsumi has been elected because he
walked around campus and asked people
what they wanted from MSA. He then went
on to fulfill his campaign promises and
address issues which effected students.
And Tsutsumi has infuriated MSA
because he is not one of them.
and I could not have survived this year if it
had not been for the other MSA executive
officers and others from the assembly.
I know that the average student doesn't
give two shits about MSA, nor do they care to
find out what it does because it doesn't direct-
ly effect their lives. But as someone who held
that same point of view just a year ago, I can
say that without MSA - though the Universi-
ty would still run - there would be virtually
no one to advocate on behalf of students and
their issues.
As MSA "president," Hideki's main job
was to be the students' ambassador to the
administration. Yet, because of his poor Eng-
lish skills, he was unable to effectively dis-
cuss policy issues with the very people who
shane our college experience. It's the sad

Don't vote for Hideki, trust me

With one of the most recognizable names
on campus, Hideki Tsutsumi was ushered to
the proverbial throne of campus politics in a
landslide victory last year. By carrying a large
sign around campus for over eight months,
Hideki became the president of the Michigan
Student Assembly even though he had no
experience at the University with student gov-
ernment. And as his running mate and current
MSA vice president, I was his accomplice.
It's an interesting story how I stumbled
into Hideki and MSA. We both ran for repre-
sentative positions in the fall of 1998, and I'd
frequently see him campaign around campus
in his nre-sion davs Since I know a little

after the election he disappeared and would
only show up at the meetings and events that
he absolutely had to attend, ignoring most
everything else he could. When I finally talked
to him, he said he couldn't be bothered and he
was trying to get into law school. He thought
that by becoming MSA president, his position
would get him into the University's law
school. So he'd send their office newspaper
articles about himself and showed them his
sign, assuming that they'd value his publicity
stunt over his academic achievement.
His absences pretty much set the tone for
the rest of his administration. He seemed to
enjoy carrying around his sign much more
than doing any real work through MSA. While
he met and communicated with numerous
neonle on camnus that communication rarely

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