Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Who Really Has Something to Fear From Unrestricted Campaign Spending?

Declaring in their editorial Citizens United's damaging cost that “our political system is debased” by unrestricted campaign spending limits, the New Jersey Star Ledger in January stated:

So it’s easy to see why issues supported by a vast majority of Americans – background checks for guns, minimum wage, Wall Street reform, environmental protection, infrastructure spending, net neutrality, etc. – never get anywhere in Congress: Somebody else has a different agenda from that vast majority, which is why recent reform proposals to reverse Citizens United will also likely go nowhere.

If the “vast majority of Americans” support all of those things, then how does the S-L explain how politicians who supposedly oppose that agenda keep getting elected? The S-L likes to blame “wealthy donors”:

The non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice used this anniversary to put a price tag on campaign spending since the Citizens United ruling, and it should shock the national system. Its research found that the top 100 donors to Super PACs spent as much as the other 4.75 million small ($200 or less) donors combined. Across all federal elections since Citizens United was decided, 195 donors have contributed $600 million of the $1 billion raised by Super PACs.

But wealthy donors have the same number of votes as small donors—one. Super PACS can’t force anyone to vote a certain way. They can only attempt to persuade people to vote a certain way. This is a fact routinely ignored by those who ascribe to wealthy donors the power to “buy our democracy” or some such equivalent nonsense. So what’s really their angle? The statists, it seems, don’t like that Super Pacs—especially those leaning to the political Right—are good at persuading voters. It gets in the way of statist politicians’ unfettered lust to add control on top of control, tax on top of tax, and redistribution on top of redistribution.

In my last post, I posed two questions: Do average people benefit from the coerced silence of people with the means to spread ideas to mass audiences? Or is it someone else—the regulators, the taxers, the controllers, the redistributors, the political class—that the Statists are trying to protect? Today, an answer to the second question, which I posted as part of my continuing comments on the article web page:

Having said that [see my last post], I agree the political system is debased—not by “big money”, but by “big political power”. The system became debased when democracy overtook constitutionally-limited republican government over the last century, creating a system where politicians can control and regulate any aspect of our lives that they can politically get away with. In other words, democratic statism.

Defending statism is what motivates the enemies of Citizens United and McCutchen. Notice the litany of issues the Star-Ledger wants done; “background checks for guns, minimum wage, Wall Street reform, environmental protection, infrastructure spending, net neutrality, etc.,”—anything that increases government spending, regulation, and control. In a constitutional republic, the original American system, the government protects individual rights—freedom of action and association—regardless of what a majority wants. In a democracy, majority rules absolutely, superseding individual rights at will. Given this upending of America, is it any surprise that money floods into politics, from left and right, for the purpose of influencing the people who get elected to control the apparatus that controls our lives? If you really want to get “big money” out of politics, get “big democratic government” out of our lives.

In employing the democracy defense against free speech in politics, the Star-Ledger is really only protecting the power-hungry political class from the influence of those pesky private citizens who disagree with its political agenda, and is willing to demolish the First Amendment if that’s what it takes. After all, aren’t those super-PACS essentially nothing more than groups of citizens exercising their “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances?”

Related Reading:

Making Private Donations Anonymously is a Right

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