Real Campaign-Finance Reform - and Soon

All the talk and punditry concerning campaign-finance reform seems to point in one direction - nothing but tinkering with the process, if even that. Not only does there seem to be no groundswell from the public, but politicians have no reason or incentive to make even the most cosmetic of changes.

I am even skeptical of the motives behind the McCain-Feingold bill. Why now, as he appears to be looking beyond the Senate to bigger things, does Senator McCain become concerned with a system that has helped him retain his position for so long?

One idea that has been scarcely mentioned, possibly because it's too radical and much too democratic, is limiting campaign contributions to donors from candidates' own districts. The people who vote for a candidate would be those who support him financially as well - no donations from outside a voting district.

Retaining the $1,000 per donor limit, removing soft money, and requiring full, immediate disclosure would, when restricted to voting districts, dramatically reduce the need for money in campaigns. It would also level the field considerably and allow fewer "money connected" citizens to run (and win).

This is an idea I am sure the Founding Fathers would have endorsed, particularly if they had foreseen the kind of corruption or appearance of corruption in today's campaigns.

However, I am also sure that such a reform will never see the light of congressional debate or even make it into any bills. We can be assured that the current system will continue in one slightly modified form or another, in the absence of a truly grass-roots movement to change it.

Reed L. Wadley

Tempe, Ariz.

Despite an errant 1976 Supreme Court ruling that should be challenged, it is ludicrous and unjust to equate money with free speech. That ruling tilts the scales of justice overwhelmingly in favor of a very small minority of the wealthy, who contribute large sums of money in hopes of furthering their self-interests.

I always thought the Supreme Court could be counted on to see that the rights of society's most vulnerable are protected and that justice is done. Unless campaign reform is enacted soon, "government of the people, by the people and for the people" and "justice for all" are in danger of perishing in America.

Kudos to the four GOP senators who are bucking their party on this issue for the good of the nation. They are true "profiles in courage." Now is the time for all democracy-loving citizens to come to the aid of our country and let Congress and the Supreme Court justices know that campaign-finance reform is in the best interest of all Americans, and we want it to become law before the end of this year.

Paul L. Whiteley Sr.

Louisville, Ky.

Few drawbacks to city living

I was very pleased to see the article "Suburbanites Trading Lawns for Profit" (Oct. 3). I too am a city dweller in my state's capitol, Sacramento. Living downtown not only gives me the cosmopolitan aura, but I am so close to everything that makes working for a living in the suburbs (Roseville) bearable.

I have theater, out-of-the-mainstream movies, live music, farmers' markets, etc. But best of all, on the weekends and at night when I am home, there is a wonderful serenity that falls over my neighborhood because all the state workers have gone home to their noisy abodes in the suburbs.

My only concern is that our downtown area still has very poor schools. Eventually I would like to start a family, and I will be sad when I have to move because good schooling just doesn't exist downtown.

Polly Mitchell

Sacramento, Calif.

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