Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Spend More Money on Politics

The Tennessean and a cadre of fellow travellers (here, here, here, and here) once again take to shouting the mantras of campaign finance reform this morning. These zealots, who evidently know the right amount that should be spent on political campaigns, merely point out the amounts of money raised and declare ex cathedra that it is too much. Americans will spend more on Halloween candy over the next three weeks than we spend electing the leader of the free world, but some people are only spooked that people want to spend their resources on exercising basic democratic rights.

Is the interplay between money and politics sometimes problematic? Of course, it is, but the proposed solutions are worse than the problems. Whether relying on welfare entitlements for politicians (public funding), or creating a scheme based solely on limiting contributions or expenditures, these supposed solutions result in increasing the distance between politicians and citizens, reducing accountability, protecting incumbents who cannot be outspent, and restricting the free speech rights of ordinary Americans. It is really quite amazing that The Tennessean, which acted as though the First Amendment was in danger of repeal when Metro government wanted to place some restrictions on the placement of newspaper racks, continually advocates in favor of allowing politicians to regulate the timing and manner of political speech by private citizens -- such as mentioning a candidate by name in an ad within 60 days of an election. Freedom of the press is important to our form of government. However the first amendment rights of all Americans are no less sacred.

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