I'm probably going to draw a lot of fire for this, but I believe the US Supreme Court made the right decision yesterday:
WASHINGTONA divided Supreme Court struck down decades-old limits on corporate political expenditures, potentially reshaping the 2010 election landscape by permitting businesses and unions to spend freely on commercials for or against candidates.
President Barack Obama attacked the ruling and said it gave "a green light to a new stampede of special-interest money in our politics," particularly "big oil, Wall Street banks, health-insurance companies and the other powerful interests" that "drown out the voices of everyday Americans." He pledged to work with lawmakers to craft a "forceful response."
What sort of "forceful response" might that be? The use of force (that is, the government's stash of guns), right? "Do as we say, or we (maybe literally) shoot you!"
Let me make my viewpoint clear on this, lest a whole swarm of lemmings start trying to put words in my mouth:
- "Congress shall make no law.... or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press" - This is very clear. Laws restricting speech are unconstitutional. Period.
- Money is not speech. However, money buys amplifiers in all of their forms. If you stand on a street corner and talk, people within 10 feet can hear you. If you buy a $2 megaphone people within 30 feet - in front of you - can hear you. If you buy a $100 powered megaphone, people can hear you to a range of perhaps 100'.
- So long as I don't drown out other people's ability to speak and be heard I should be able to buy and use as big an amplifier as I would like (and can afford.) This is the old libertarian (little "L") principle: I can swing my arms around all I want so long as my fist does not connect with your nose.
As a consequence if you honor the black-letter law as expressed in The First Amendment, you are led to the inescapable conclusion that The US Supreme Court came to the correct decision - whether it is personally distasteful or not.
The true test of whether you believe in liberties and rights is not whether you support them when they coincide with what you'd like to see happen - it is whether you support them when they are adverse to what you would prefer.
But with that said, I do believe there is a serious problem with campaigns and politicians - and corruption thereof.
And here, I have a solution.
Public employees - that is, politicians - should not be able to receive a campaign donation (in any form) from anyone except an actual constituent - that is, someone who is qualified and registered to vote in their district or state.
Let the corporations (and individuals), along with PACs, Unions and others buy all the issue and even candidate ads they want - so long as they honestly identify who is funding the speech in question.
But bar all public employees from receiving any campaign contribution from anyone other than a natural person who is registered to vote in the area represented by that particular politician, with violators subject to felony prosecution. If such an act is traced to a corporation the firm's charter is revoked.
Isn't it funny how we never address the actual problem - the fact that candidates have huge war chests funded by corporations (directly and indirectly) and instead try to focus on trying to restrict people's desire to speak - a right that is guaranteed under our Constitution?
Solve the problem instead of allowing politicians to play Kabuki Theater with this (very legitimate) issue.