Every American has the right to support the political speech they choose
by: Keith Farrell
There is a lot of hyperbole going on in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. In what is being seen as an extension of the controversial 2010 Citizens United ruling, the Court struck down aggregate limits of campaign donation over a two year period. While the amount one may give to an individual campaign has remained, the aggregate cap has been lifted, allowing individuals to donate to as many campaigns as they’d like. The majority opinion, authored by Justice John Roberts, stated that the cap failed to deter corruption while violating the First Amendment.
Liberals, who often malign the right of people to spend their money as they choose, have been railing against Citizens United for the past four years. Yesterday’s ruling, they have proclaimed, was America’s final decent into plutocracy. In typical fashion, they ignore the very real effects of regulation in favor of fantastical fears over what bedlam could occur if Americans are allowed to do with their money as they see fit.
Several myths go into the construction of the liberal narrative on McCutcheon. The first being the idea that Citizens United has helped to further wealthy Americans influence in elections. In actuality, the Super PACS which Citizens United gave way to have done more to help boost candidates who otherwise would not have been able to compete and thus prolonged our democratic process. Instead of an independently wealthy candidate like Mitt Romney running away with the election, Super PACs helped to prolong the race by giving candidates like Ron Paul additional revenue sources.
Another pervasive myth is that the wealthy are a consolidated interest group, primarily rooted in the GOP. First, there is no collective of “the wealthy” of a single mind. Wealthy Americans, like all Americans, come from all ideological leanings. The five wealthiest Congressional districts are actually Democratic districts.
Yet another myth about money and politics is that money buys elections. One need only recall Mitt Romney’s loss to Barack Obama or Linda McMahon’s failed bid for a Connecticut Senate seat to realize that money alone doesn’t cut it. In another race from Connecticut, Dannel Malloy defeated the independently wealthy Tom Foley in our 2010 Governor’s race. Having money is not enough to win elections, especially now that those without money can appeal to a wider donor base.
The last myth this narrative requires is one of the gullibility and ignorance of the American people in general. The myth would have it believed that Americans are helpless to discern truth for themselves, that government needs to regulate our elections or we will simply vote for who has the most TV ads or shiniest buttons.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia addressed this myth in 2012. He said that believing that allowing Americans discretion with their own money meant that corporation and the wealthy would simply buy government was to believe that the people were sheep. “If you believe that we ought to go back to monarchy. That the people are such sheep that they just swallow whatever they see on television or read in the newspapers? No. The premise of democracy is that people are intelligent and can discern the true from the false.”
Americans have the right to speak politically and to use the fruits of their labors to support other’s political speech. The SCOTUS was absolutely correct when it linked political contributions to the First Amendment right of free speech. Every American has the right to support the candidates he or she chooses to. The alternative to this type of political funding is public financing of campaigns. That means pro-gun rights advocates would have their money used to support candidates who favor gun control. It would mean Catholics would be made to fund pro-choice candidates. It would mean gay Americans having to fund the campaigns of people who wish to deprive them of rights.
Cronyism, which leads to conflicts of interest and a revolving door between corporate and elected positions, is created by the influence we allow the federal government in certain sectors and not by allowing the free exchange of money and ideas. It’s the politicizing of these markets that creates the problem. Regulating the economic and democratic rights of all Americans isn’t the answer.
About the Author: Keith Farrell is a regular contributor to The Libertarian Republic, an Advocate for Young Voices, and President and Founder of Spirits of ’76 national nonprofit organization. He holds a BA in American Studies and Urban & Community Studies from the University of Connecticut. He has also been published at PJ Media and The Daily Caller.