Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm Not Sure About This One

Thursday of last week the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision striking down political campaign finance law that restricted the ability of corporations to finance political commercials during the later stages of a campaign. It was hailed everywhere by those on the political right as a victory for free speech, lifting this restriction on speech by entities that happened to be incorporated. The political left was hyperbolic in their objection, one congressman, Alan Grayson, comparing it to the Dred Scott decision. Every progressive and left leaning pol had a negative comment, from Ralph Nader to Charles Schumer to President Obama. All were predicting dire consequences for the buying of elections by corporations.

Here's the thing: I heard both sides. I hear the Supremes and the right rejoicing in free speech. I remember that not every corporation is BIG and now those who are incorporated for whatever reason have had their ability to participate in political speech fully restored. However, I hear the left's concerns for too much mo' money sloshing around our political candidates. It is already hard enough to find good people to run for political office. The money makes it harder for candidates to stay clean and influence free. In addition, the cost of political campaigning will continue to spiral upward, which restricts the number and type of candidates.

I guess my message is this: both sides reacted somewhat emotionally and I have not seen or heard really well thought out opinions from either side, but especially from the right. In addition, voters now will have to wade through even more sh*t from advertisements to make their decisions about candidates. Some may not bother, and just listen to the loudest voice. I'm happy for free speech, but consider me concerned about some of the possible unintended consequences of this decision.


Capt. Schmoe said...

For me, its a matter of balance. You can't allow one group to have unlimited lobbying rights (labor, community organizations, PACs) and then prohibit another group.

Disclosure is what is important. You need to know who is funding the candidates.

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
I do think disclosure is first, like the Captain, but I think the amount spent on campaigning is already obscene and leads to corruption.

It also raises the rates on advertising, which means outsiders of any stamp are further displaced on their way to necessary exposure.

I would agree that most outsiders who run for office have a screw loose. Nevertheless, I long for a day when our legislatures represent more viewpoints than the button-downed schmoozable ones we seem to usually get. How is a truth-teller ever going to get the chance?

As ever, naive but not trusting,
Ann T.