One really clever tactic in any debate is appropriating the language used by the opposing side and refashioning it to prop up your own argument. The theory is that the opposition will have a hard time arguing against rhetoric they employ themselves to make their case. So it is in the case of the Draft Executive Order that President Obama began talking about in April but has yet to release. Most familiar with the issue understand that the Order is simply a regulatory way of accomplishing much of the policy inherent in the failed DISLCOSE Act, legislation that sought to compel companies and associations to adhere to strict and burdensome disclosure regulations in order to run a political ad. Now, Rep. Anna Eshoo is leading 60 Democratic House members in a charge to urge the President to formalize the EO:
Eshoo, in a letter to be released Wednesday and signed by more than 60 Democratic House members, wants Obama to ignore Republican opposition and release an executive order drafted in April that requires anyone involved in federal procurements to state how they spread around political donations.
“Sunlight remains the best disinfectant, and there is nothing partisan about finally shining light on this dark corner of our political system,” Eshoo, of Palo Alto, wrote in the letter. “We believe that with public funds come public responsibilities, and anyone benefiting from taxpayer money has the responsibility to be fully transparent.”
The notion that this kind of disclosure helps the public suggests that the public — which has been reclaiming its place in the political sphere over the last few years — is somehow being stymied because it doesn’t know from whence support for political candidates comes. Making the argument that this kind of regulation is ‘for the people’ is nothing more than an attempt to capitalize on the grassroots fervor that has blossomed since Obama took office.
The truth is that this kind of regulation actually stifles the public role in the process because it makes it harder for people to easily support a candidate of their choice. The disclosure regulations add time, effort and money to the process, all the while protecting incumbents already in office from facing serious challengers because supporters find it difficult to rally while buried under budensome and bureaucratic red tape.