The View From 1776

Democrat/Socialist Big Spenders Outspend Republicans

Why Big Campaign Donations Won’t Corrupt Elections

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/11 at 04:11 PM
  1. If anyone thinks that a person who writes your campaign a million dollar check will not have any influence on how you vote is deceiving himself. Money buys influence, and more money buys more influence. The article points out that Obama spent more on his campaign than did the Republicans. But that money came from small donors, so the influence of any one donor was minimal - compared to the Koch brothers, for instance. So, the total spent on the campaign is not a good measure of the corrupting power of unlimited donations.

    The conservatives like to equate money with speech. So, those with lots of money simply have a much louder "voice" than everyday citizens, which is, of course, a shift in the anti-democratic direction.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/13  at  06:59 PM
  2. J Jay,

    For once we agree on something, that is, that money has [some] political influence. The real question however is how great is this influence that we should hazard something of far greater consequence to us – our political freedom of speech (i.e., the influence we, as citizens, have over our elected officials); which is what campaign donations are about and what campaign finance reform guts.

    Now, I realize, freedom-of-speech means something very different to you, so it would help if you would articulate for us what you regard as speech and what is not speech. Therefore, it is difficult to know, as a conservative, just what you will or won’t defend or attack, and whether or not you have any guiding principle on which to base your judgment of these things. The left has, in my lifetime, defended as speech such things as flag-burning, publicly-funded degenerate art, pornography, libel, Nazi parades, verbal threats, subversive activities, violent and disorderly protests, race-baiting, snuff-films, and the sexualization of children. These are clearly less relevant to the rationale underlying our Founder’s guaranteeing our right to speak out against governmental abuses AND of having a say in the reshaping of that government and the manner in which we are governed. Both of these, the right of protest and the right of non-violent redress, were understood by the Founder’s both as ‘political speech’ and as necessary to our system's long-term viability.

    A citizen's involvement in government is measured not only by vote participation, but also jury-sitting, town-hall gatherings, party-membership, movements and contributions. How long do you suppose our system and freedoms will last when the people no longer believe in it or have a say in it? Strip us of our right of participation in government, and the only way our government can stand thereafter will be through brute force.

    The left routinely denounces and stifles any speech with which it disagrees (e.g., so-called hate-speech) or does not comprehend, so it is no surprise you’d dismiss our right to contribute to campaigns having as there object a change in [your] government. However, I also seem to recall you and your compatriots having a very different opinion of speech and contributions when yours was the party out of power. Then, you were opposed to any new restrictions on giving. Plus, we have seen how your party regularly ignores and circumvents these laws whether in or out of power. So, there is an element of hypocrisy in your denial of it now.

    The damage to this essential freedom and to our system of limited-government from these questionable laws is far greater than the attempts at reducing its evils can possibly justify; especially as they are invariably ineffective at reducing corruption (or even increase the opportunities for it). Moreover, as the object of campaign finance laws is to reduce or limit the influence of some (with or without also compromising that of others), and because the advantaged contributors it is supposed to limit already have an unequal say in the drafting and implementation of our laws, and because politicians are loath to have their funding sources cut anymore than is necessary to deflect criticism, the resulting reforms are invariably and deliberately flawed so as to leave ‘loopholes’ big enough to drive an armored truck loaded with cash through. Therefore, it should surprise no one that campaign finance laws are not only ineffective, but inherently corrupt.

    There is indeed some corruption attached to campaign funds, but it is hardly new, one-sided (i.e., not just a case of undue influence by those with money) or one-dimensional. However, the influence of money is generally short lived and often nullified by scandals that typically attach to it because partisans can be relied on to sniff out and expose the large donors of the opposition, and the donors are easy enough to spot and nullify. Besides the large donor corruption, there is also the corruption that comes of the misuse of campaign funds for personal use or gain, vote-buying, vote-buying-using-tax-money, slander, sex-for-favors, exposure threats, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, electoral fraud, &c; many of which are not attributable to a candidate directly. Nor are small donors entirely free of this taint. Small donor contributions have been implicated in the general corruption through the actions of bundlers, PAC organizers, hustlers, subversives, unions, vote-suppression, result-flipping court & recount challenges, and the like. These ‘small-donor’ corruptions invariably fly under the radar, whereas the big-donors are more often exposed and nullified. These ‘small fry’ do more damage to our political system in the aggregate, yet I do not hear a hue and cry emanating from your (populist) side to curb their excesses. Thus, this emphasis of campaign finance reform on large donors is exaggerated if you are not also willing to go after these lesser cheats and seekers after advantage.

    Conservatives no more equate money with speech than do liberals and socialists. If anything, it is you socialists who obsess over the evils of money (just as you did in your post #1 above). And, the article (written by a conservative) is, if anything, dismissive of this particular bogeyman. Ergo, this is one more of your many delusions regarding conservatives. There was a time when liberals and democrats were the ones defending speech in all its forms. Harry Truman, Justices William Douglas, Hugo Black, and Earl Warren strenuously opposed campaign finance reform, in all its guises, as an attack on free-speech. Kennedy, who was independently wealthy (yet owed his dark-horse victory to financial and media backers), was another outspoken defender of speech. Like chivalry, civility, and the legendary Kennedy charm, however, that aspect of the liberal creed is long dead.

    References:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campaign_finance_reform_in_the_United_States
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._Federal_Election_Commission
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/04/03/a-history-of-campaign-finance-reform-from-george-washington-to-shaun-mccutcheon/
    http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-myth-of-campaign-finance-reform
    http://www.thenation.com/article/157720/debating-citizens-united - Harry Truman opposed campaign finance regulation on the grounds it violates free-speech
    http://cnsnews.com/news/article/efforts-amend-constitution-limit-speech-will-fail-citizens-united-president-says - liberal attempt to restrict speech (a new phenomenon)
    _
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/17  at  06:37 AM
  3. PS

    One other thing for you to consider is that one of the results of campaign finance reform has been to make campaign giving disproportionately harder on the middle-class. So, although corporations can no longer contribute directly and the rich can only give so much, they have, in a relative sense, a far greater say in the outcome of our elections than before these laws were enacted. Just another of those 'unintended consequences'.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/17  at  06:49 AM
  4. J. Jay,

    Here's a link to a non-partisan discussion of campaign-finance and its shortcomings. Some excellent points Professor Smith makes regarding CF are, whatever its merits, it has made grassroots movements harder to launch, it has significantly increased the incumbent advantage, and rather than equalize our political voices it as increased the fundamental problem.

    Then, there are polls like this one showing a majority of Americans agree an ability to support a party of your choice through contributions is an important part of free-speech (even when convinced limiting such those contributions is a good idea). If you'd take the time to think about why that is, you'd realize that for many of us, money contributions are the only significant means we have of making our views and preferences heard and felt, through the medium of a candidate who shares our views and whom we are free to support unhindered. Most of us never get a podium with national or even local reach with which to impress others with the force of our reason, so much rely on such proxies as the next best thing. But, even that will be for naught if our chosen proxy is too quickly knocked out of the race for lack of sufficient funds as can compete against entrenched politicians with bigger campaign-chests. That poll number, BTW, used to be much higher.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/18  at  08:18 PM
  5. Oops - forgot my links.

    http://www.youtube.com/embed/E8rvjq-Gdio?rel=0&autoplay=1

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/campaign_contributions_as_free_speech/

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/18  at  08:21 PM
  6. Bob,

    When you say,

    "If you'd take the time to think about why that is, you'd realize that for many of us, money contributions are the only significant means we have of making our views and preferences heard and felt"

    you sell yourself very short. I suspect your writings on this blog have had a far greater impact on others than any small contributions you may have made to a candidate.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/20  at  07:47 PM
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