Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On money and politics

Everyone in this nation from fourth graders on up seem to understand the First Amendment.  That is, until people get elected to office, then they decide to make participating in electoral politics one of the most regulated areas of the American economy.  They dream up all sorts of rationales for all sorts of exceptions to the fundamental principle of free speech.

And the leading rationale is "too much money in politics."  If we just had less money in politics, the system would be more fair, they say.  But it is already difficult enough to defeat incumbent office holders, with more than 94% of members of Congress regularly winning re-election.  Less money would mean even less chance to get out the word about the scoundrels in office.

But it is interesting to see the contrast among the "more regulation" of free speech types, those who want to "undo" Citizens United by legislation or constitutional amendment this year versus 2008.  In 2008, President Obama was the hottest ticket in the nation, and he raised gobs of money for his election campaign, far more than John McCain.  In that year, the liberals were not shrieking about money in politics, because they were largely winning that battle.  And they celebrated their free speech rights in that year.

Fast forward to 2012.  Mitt Romney is, at least at present, crushing Obama in the fundraising arena.  And Super PACs, and related committees for Republicans are dominating the democrats.  So, predictably, the democrats will cry foul, demand more regulation, and insist on changing the rules one more time to their favor.

COAST believes that free speech means free speech, and the answer to speech you disagree with, is more speech of your own.  We do not need more campaign finance regulation; we need less.

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