Trying the Impossible: Building Public Support for Fixing the FEC

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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has started a new website called fixthefec.org, in order to (1) educate the public about the current situation with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), which is currently out of order due to a lack of commissioners and will may not serve its traditional role of referee in the 2008 elections, and (2) build public support for a fix and pressure the Senate into acting. For everything — everything! — you need to know about why the FEC is broken, and what its inoperability means for the election season, see my recent article on the subject.

CREW’s new website is a badly needed effort, but one that is unlikely to succeed. I say that with a tone of resignation. The FEC is not a sexy topic and no one but good government reformers gets excited about it. Besides, there is no one whose interests are directly affected by the agency’s work. This was a point made to me by Robert Lenhard, a former nominee for the FEC who withdrew his name from consideration recently because of the delay in getting the FEC fixed. “This is an agency without a constituency group,” he said. “There is no one other than the American people in some sort of broad and abstract sense whose self-interest is advanced by the existence of the FEC. There is no group that comes forward and says, ‘No, no, no. This agency’s work is essential and must continue.'”

Good luck to the folks at CREW in their fight on this issue. They’ll need it.

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Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

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