July 2, 2008

Freedom of Speech

First, with Friday being a holiday, I don't know how much posting I'll be doing over the weekend. So, things may go a little quiet as we head into the weekend.

Today's topic on Free Speech seems appropriate with Friday being the Fourth of July. By Free Speech, we are referring to campaign finance reform, since money spent on campaigns is considered a free speech issue.

The Buffalo News has an editorial about the Supreme Court striking down the so-called Millionaire's Amendment to the McCain Feingold campaign finance reform law.

The challenge to this amendment was brought by local candidate Jack Davis. It basically said if you're running against a millionaire like Davis who is throwing in huge sums of personal wealth into his race, you can raise money beyond the legal limits imposed in the law to even things out.

I've got mixed feelings on this. First, I don't like the idea of millionaires trying to buy elections which is more and more the trend. They're given the fancy title of "self-financing" their races but basically they've got more money than you and are going to use it to get votes.

It seems reasonable that some poor schmuck running against said millionaire should be able to raise more money to compete. But then again, why? So Jack Davis worked hard, earned his own money and wants to use it. And since he did that, you can now run back to big special interests like tobacco, unions, etc. and take more of their money to compete? No, I don't like that.

But then again, aren't these limits really having the opposite impact? After all, I think I'd like my candidate to be financed by one rich sugar daddy who he/she basically owes favors to rather than take smaller, but still sizable, contributions from hundreds of special interests who then want something in return. Plus, these limits have given rise to these 527's that basically have become political hit squads to attack candidates.

Then again, aren't these limits key to somehow regulating the special interest money. Take them away and all hell breaks loose. Plus, public financing seems more like welfare for politicians with no support than the right answer.

OK, it's one of those days where I've talked myself into knots. Maybe some of you can bring some clarity.


rob clark said...

Lets stick to the subject at hand shall we. There should be even money rights for everyone. I like the idea of a spending limit to keep people from buying races.

fat tony said...

I like the idea of a spending limit. Raise it any way you want and here's the limit. Or maybe just give candidates some free air time to speak directly to voters and get rid of all this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that voters are so stupid that running "billy Huge" tv adds are going to sway votes? yes, they must be, no matter how smart a teacher is a Nccc thats teaching them how to tie a sneaker. I wish the candidates could just pay us Cash, instead of giving it to media outlets. But the GOP leaning supreme court is letting the millionares take over the government now so good luck idiots.

Anonymous said...

The democrats are the one's buying these races. The New Jersey Governor is a former exec at Goldman Sachs who bought himself a U.S. Senate seat and then governor. Jack Davis is a Democrat trying for a third time to buy a seat. Golisano is trying to buy a Democrate Senate.

And we poor jamokes get nothing.

Larry Castellani said...

No solutions having to do with trying to redistribute the effect of money is going to redistribute power. And this discussion is really about power. In fact power alignments distribute money. Witness George Maziarz and countless other professional politicians spreading money around to keep the “sheep” contented in the pasture and showing up at the ballot box.

Hobbes construes the problem in the economistic language of the power elite, wholly on their terms. Everything from that perspective is about money, investment, taxes, profit, etc. They even operationalize money as something that can “talk,” or is the embodiment of speech. Imgine that. That’s raw material for George Carlin. Too bad he’s dead.

Really “free speech” from the standpoint of what I call the New Political Class is having enough money to dominate discourse and not really ever have to listen to anyone else let alone have a dialogue with them. Witness the virtually hermetically sealed federal and state politicians not to mention the NC Legislature .

If free speech is about assuring a meaningful voice in constituting values, traditions and customs we live by and in regulating relations among the self-constituted communities/regions of the society, then we have to redefine where “voice” or “free speech” is meaningful and effective, in short, locally. All “politics” (free speech) is local and all local politics is participatory democratic politics. If we rehabilitate it.

When localities stop spending their tax money funding inefficient, misdirected, counterproductive bureaucracies, endless self-defeating wars and mass production of military goods not to mention a consumer consciousness propagated by mindless wasteful “money pit” schools, then they might be able to build communities and give up the illusion of a mass democratic nation-state.

A forum determined by money ‘talking’ just depoliticizes politics. The solution is the “Town Hall” but minus the mass media, bureaucratic-technocratic managerial elite, the militaristically brainwashed and their politically correct censors. The power elite has no reason to talk to the disenfranchised mass of manipulable “Americans.” They DON’T talk to you. The mass media manipulates you to make it continue to appear that the process of 2-party representative democracy works (and it doesn’t) and to make their rule continue to appear legitimate as opposed to just “legal.”

If you don't think we're being manipulated check out "Buying the War," a PBS special with Bill Moyers if you can stand it.

rufus said...

I agree that political dialouge is dead in this country. We get packaged events and talking heads scoring those packaged events. We get Madison Avenue television commercials that say nothing but fill our head with focus-group tested images.

But thank God, Jack Davis can spend as much as he wants and his opponents can only take so much special interest money.

Democracy in 2008...it's just sad.