NJ Star-Ledger reporter Matt Friedman, writing about a state senate race in New Jersey, headlined his front page article Democratic Primary for Union County's 20th District is a Clash of the Machines. His first paragraph states: "[L]ike most of the politics in Union County and Elizabeth, the campaign is a brawl, and each side insists the other is breaking the rules."
What rules? Campaign finance rules.
I left the following comments:
My reaction upon reading about this battle over who's spending how much for whom is; so what?
People have a right to spend their own money as they see fit. This includes spending on political advocacy, in any amount, for or against any candidate or any issue. When people finance political ads, they are spreading ideas and information. The general population is thus better informed in a myriad of ways. People are perfectly capable of assimilating the information and making up their own minds. No "machine," no matter how well financed, can force a voter to vote a certain way. They can only seek to persuade.
The tit-for-tat accusations about campaign finance rule-breaking are a distraction from what really matters; ideas and issues. It's time to end this silliness by getting rid of campaign finance laws. For one thing, these laws don't work. People will always find ways to spend money to influence politicians, legislators, and elections. But that is the people's right, and the whole point of the democratic process, and people shouldn't have to figure out ways to game the system in order to express themselves. Liberating campaign finance would also make for better, more informative campaigns. Finally, repealing campaign finance laws would remove a serious threat to First Amendment free speech and press rights.
We should repeal campaign finance laws. It is the practical and moral thing to do.
Freedom of Speech and Press are Linked