Duke University Alumni Magazine

Here are the ten best-selling books at the Gothic Bookshop in the spring semester:
  1. Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life, by Mike Krzyzewski; foreword by Grant Hill '94.
  2. Duke, A Shared Vision, photography by Duke University Photography; foreword by Reynolds Price '55.
  3. If Gargoyles Could Talk: Sketches of Duke University, by William E. King '61, A.M. '63, Ph.D. '70.
  4. Breakfast of Biodiversity: The Truth About Rain Forest Destruction, by John Vandermeer and Ivette Perfecto; foreword by Vandana Shiva.
  5. Fortune's Rocks, by Anita Shreve. A novel by the author of The Pilot's Wife (and a Duke parent).
  6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J. K. Rowling. The first book in this series for children of all ages.
  7. Our Dumb Century: 100 Years of Headlines from America's Finest News Source, from the satirical publication The Onion.
  8. Gone for Good: Tales of University Life After the Golden Age, by Stuart Rojstaczer. A Duke professor takes a look at the state of higher education in America today.
  9. The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind The New York Times, by Susan E. Tifft '73 and Alex S. Jones. The biography of a dynasty, by two journalists who recently shared the Eugene C. Patterson Chair in Communications and Journalism at Duke's Terry Sanford Institute.
  10. Women in Scripture: A Dictionary of Named and Unnamed Women in the Hebrew Bible, the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, and the New Testament, by Carol Meyers, general editor; Toni Craven and Ross S. Kraemer, associate editors. Meyers is a professor of biblical studies and archaeology at Duke.

Is there a real possibility of effective campaign finance reform?

"Effective" reform depends on what you think our goals should be. I think our goal should be an informed electorate, choosing among a diverse group of candidates. If you accept this goal, then all the proposed reforms (Shays-Meehan, McCain-Feingold, etc.) would make things worse, because they are based on misconceptions and myths.

Myth 1: There is too much spending on campaigns. We spend more to advertise yogurt and toothpaste than to advertise party platforms and candidate values. Thirty seconds during the Super Bowl costs twice as much as the incumbent and challenger combined spend in most House races. Campaigns are forums for debates among conflicting visions of governance. How much spending is too much?

Myth 2: Government funding is better than private funding for campaigns. In the famous Buckley v. Valeo (1976) case, the Supreme Court decided that regulating campaign spending infringes on free speech. A plaintiff, Democrat Eugene McCarthy, had been denied access to "public" funds. The reason? Other Democrats felt he threatened favored candidate Jimmy Carter. If government controls funding, then candidates who challenge the status quo can't even be heard, much less elected.

Myth 3: "Unregulated" soft money empowers interest groups and is a threat to democracy. Three problems: (1) Soft money is hardly unregulated. Records of receipts and disbursements of soft money by political parties are available on the Internet. Most activities financed by soft money are regulated by state election law. And soft money cannot be used to advocate the election or defeat of federal candidates. (2) Weakening parties strengthens interest groups. Parties depend on soft money to run campaigns, so restricting soft money will force prospective candidates to turn to narrowly focused interest groups for support. (3) Party labels are franchises. Walk into a McDonald's and the food is bad; you blame not just that store, but McDonald's generally. Parties have to protect their reputations by making sure that all the candidates who run under their label keep their promises.

Weak parties mean weak democracy. We all want good candidates to be elected, but we also like to watch Survivor! on television. Each of us hopes that someone is out there, recruiting qualified candidates, stuffing envelopes, and helping to get out the vote. But without parties, all of us sit home and watch Survivor! Voters feel alienated and resentful because the political system seems unresponsive. The proposed reforms will make this worse, not better.

The bottom line: I disagree with those who depend on the Second Amendment, and the ability it gives citizens to own guns, to keep government honest. Rather, it is the First Amendment, and the ability it gives us to run campaigns independently of government, that constrains government power. None of the proposed reforms, whether they limit soft money or force "public" financing, could possibly be effective because those reforms would all make independent campaigns effectively impossible.
--Michael C. Munger, a professor and chair of the political science department, is the author of Analyzing Policy: Choices, Conflicts, and Practice

"In the final analysis, it is your moral compass that counts far more than any bank balance, any resume, and, yes, any diploma."
--Commencement speaker Elizabeth Hanford Dole '58, in her address in May to the Class of 2000 You live with it and move on.

You shouldn't be afraid to make mistakes. You should try to do the best you can under the circumstances."
--Attorney General Janet Reno, in a speech to law graduates in May, referring to her handling of the Branch Davidian compound crisis in Waco, Texas

Your soul has become intertwined with those of the people you met, befriended, studied and played with here in a complex and beautiful linkage like the workings of a jeweled watch. You can and will return to Duke at the speed of thought, in a single tick of the second hand, in your memories and dreams and imagination--and with a click of your mouse.
-- President Nannerl O. Keohane, in her baccalaureate address to the Class of 2000

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