In sum, getting a campaign-finance reform law passed by Congress didn't seem too much to ask. After all, a ban on soft money, while a significant step, does not entirely close the multiple paths through which money can flow from individuals and businesses into politics.
Yet, after the fine example set by the Senate in passing the McCain/Feingold reform bill earlier this year, and expectations for passage of the similar Shays/Meehan bill in the House, the legislation stalled in the House over an unfortunate rules squabble last week.
Finger-pointing and threats now abound, instead of thoughtful debate as happened in the Senate.
Looking beyond all of the political maneuverings, is it just possible that the essence of this issue breaks down into those who fear the loss of the status quo, and those who think there might be another way? Party loyalties ought to take a back seat to fealty toward doing the right thing.
Although a battle has been lost for now, those in Congress with longer vision, and the people's interests at heart, still have an opportunity to move the debate forward. It's not too much to ask.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor