A relatively common talking point among the “reform community” is the idea that the Federal Election Commission is not merely a “failure,” but “designed to fail.” Really? When you think about it, the whole “designed to fail” language is silly. Who designs something “to fail”?
When people say the FEC is “designed to fail,” what they really seem to mean is that it is not designed to accomplish every thing that person would like to see accomplished at a pace that person would like. Presumably, people who agree with the speaker’s goals did not “design the system to fail” (though it is possible that the system was poorly designed, but that is hardly the same thing). It is more likely that the system was designed to accommodate various interests and concerns….
Rather than being “designed to fail,” perhaps the FEC is designed to succeed—and those who use contrary terminology simply do not understand or have not adequately considered the full range of issues involved. That the FEC still cannot succeed in regulating political speech in a non-partisan manner that is consistent with the First Amendment and free, competitive politics may be the problem not of design, but of mission.