Friday, April 30, 2010

Campaign Finance Restrictions Are About Entrenching Incumbents and The Existing Two-Party Structure. Period.

Just have to get to this, from Reason's blog yesterday. Politico apparently has the details of the Democratic response to Citizens United, designed to blunt the effects of the Supreme Court's ruling several months ago. It's nothing all that surprising and as far as suppressing speech goes, there's nothing as horrible as what was in place before Citizen's United. But this is what got my attention.


• The legislation provides that any payment by a political party committee for the direct costs of an ad or other communication made on behalf of a candidate affiliated with the party is treated as a contribution to the candidate only if the communication is directed or controlled by the candidate.

• Party-paid communications that are not directed or controlled by the candidate are not subject to limits on the party’s contributions or expenditures.

In essence, it puts the speech of political parties on equal footing with the speech of corporations, unions, ect. But think about it for a minute ... it's one thing to ban coordination between candidates and unaffiliated speakers. The interest of corporations, unions, individuals- the interest of all independent Americans are electing the specific politicians that they think will legislate in their own best interests and the best interests of the nation. But what interests do political parties have, other than the election of more members of their party? Is there any meaning in a distinction between party-funded advertising and candidate funded advertising?

Here's the problem: For all the complaints about money in politics, Congress has never made a single move to restrict the "independent expenditures" of the parties. They fight tooth and nail to restrict the speech of those outside the Washington establishment, but nothing is done to combat the entrenchment of the two major political parties and their impact our electoral system.

That's not to say that I have a particular problem with any of the specific language I noted above. It's just important to note how thoroughly the parties look out for their own interests while continuing to scrutinize the speech of everyone outside of the two major parties.


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