Orange County Register: How campaign finance laws spawned permanent presidential campaigns (In the News)

Luke Wachob and Scott Blackburn

What is often lost in the debate over the need for such laws, however, is their unintended effect on the campaign process. FECA and its progeny made it harder to run for office, particularly for outsiders – those who don’t have access to a cadre of political experts and a lengthy donor list. It set the stage for today’s 24/7, professionalized political culture.

It is hard to imagine a campaign today in the mold of stalwart liberal Eugene McCarthy’s, who saw America turning against the Vietnam War and the Johnson administration in 1967 and challenged the incumbent for the Democratic nomination. Despite beginning his run less than two months before the New Hampshire primary, the support of a few wealthy donors allowed McCarthy to quickly assemble an army of grass-roots anti-war supporters and conduct a campaign strong enough to scare the incumbent Johnson, out of the race.

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