By ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator


SEPT. 23, 2015 -- 1. Money requires candidates to not only run for office but buy the office.

2. Money lets billionaires buy the officeholder.

3. Money has caused "tit for tat" government. Gridlock!

4. Money has caused lobbyists to wrest control of the government from Congress.

5. Finally, ISIS.

In 1966, Republican and Democrat Senators worked together, partied together, traveled together. We became fast friends. We never thought of raising money against each other. Congress limited spending in elections in 1971 and 1973. President Nixon signed the '73 law. But the Supreme Court in Buckley vs. Valeo reversed the law by equating free spending with free speech. For years, Congress tried to correct the court's mistake with McCain Feingold, public financing, a Constitutional Amendment, etc. - to no avail. After Buckley, Senators started raising money against each other. The Republican and Democrat Senate Campaign Committees took over the fundraising. Partisanship set in. In 1993, Democrats cut spending $250 billion and raised taxes $250 billion, without a Republican vote in the House or Senate. This with Communications and Welfare Reform permitted Congress to give President Bush a balanced budget in 2001. But Bush cut taxes, started wars, added prescription drugs to Medicare, stimulated and bailed out - all without paying for them. When I asked Democrats to balance the budget, they said: "We couldn't get Republicans to help in 1993. We're not paying for Republican spending now." Gridlock!

To break gridlock, Congress must pass a Constitutional Amendment to empower Congress to limit or control spending in federal elections. Once empowered, Congress can limit spending by so much per registered voter; by public financing, etc. In 1973, Senator Strom Thurmond and I were limited to such much per registered voter - $687,000. In my seventh time to be elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998, I raised and spent $8.5 million. Today, a contested Senate race in SC would cost $12-$15 million. With spending limited, fundraising is limited, partisanship is limited; gridlock is broken; Congress takes control of the government from the lobbyists and Congress has time to work for the country instead of fundraising for themselves. Congress won't limit spending for it would lose its advantage in fundraising. Located in Washington amongst ten thousand lobbyists, House Members have two years and Senators six years to fundraise morning, noon and night.

Corporate America will not start producing in America until Washington protects its production against devaluation and predatory practices. The U.S. was founded in a trade war - Boston Tea Party. The Founding Fathers pointed the way when Congress enacted the Tariff Act of 1787 - two years before The Constitution. The U.S. economy was built on protectionism. If President Obama would enforce the Defense Production Act of 1950 like President Kennedy did in 1961 for the textile industry, it would create millions of jobs. If President Obama would protect steel, motor vehicles, computers, machine tools, as President Reagan did in 1984, it would create millions of jobs.

Training against ISIS is futile. We trained the South Vietnamese for ten years and lost. We tried to meld three religions in Iraq into a democracy - and failed. We'll never meld three religions into an Army against ISIS. It will take U.S. troops on the ground to defeat ISIS.

Muslims in the United States enjoy the freedom of religion, guaranteed by the Constitution. But we must guard against the extremes of the Muslim religion - the Salafi or Wahhabi versions. The government in Saudi Arabia controls religion and education. Pupils in the ninth grade in Saudi Arabia are taught the Salafi or Wahhabi version of the Muslim religion which teaches Christians and Jews are infidels; must be eliminated; must be beheaded (Frontline 11/9/2001). ISIS is only practicing what they learned in the ninth grade. Saudi Arabia is creating more ISIS than we can eliminate. First, we must get a commitment from the government of Saudi Arabia and other countries to stop teaching violence against other religions. Saudi Arabia can teach religion - but not violence against other religions.

Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).

© 2015, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.

About Fritz Hollings

Ernest F. Hollings served the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of Representatives. Today, Hollings continues to be influential in public affairs and offers this website as a compendium of current and past positions on public issues. Learn more about Fritz Hollings.

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