creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
David Harsanyi
David Harsanyi
18 Apr 2014
Conservatives Still Don't Want You to Get Sick and Die

The notion that conservatives not only oppose liberal health care reforms but are vigorously working to deny … Read More.

4 Apr 2014
The GM Scandal Is Worse Than You Think

Here's another reason government should never own a business. In February 2010, the Obama administration's … Read More.

28 Mar 2014
The 'Creationism' Distraction

Eric Meikle, project director at the National Center for Science Education, recently told Politico that he doesn'… Read More.

How To Fight Money in Politics: Free Will

Comment

Have you heard about these terrifying super PACs? According to cable news anchors — and other trustworthy sources — they're like political super-bugs, resistant to free will.

Needless to say, the principled and high-minded political debates we've grown accustomed to are now over. Our unsullied national conversation is about to be defiled by a carpet-bombing of television ads and radio spots. And clearly, there is no better way to corrode "democracy" than allowing defenseless voters more exposure to free speech.

Or maybe there is. Heck, I don't even know anymore. Ever since the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission decision removed limits on independent spending by corporations and unions, I've been too confused to know what to think. Super PACs, after all, can raise or spend as much as they'd like, and worse, they can say anything they want. What we need is legislation dictating the limits of "legitimate" political speech and money so we can all focus again.

Just look at recent events: Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich was miffed when a Mitt Romney-friendly super political action committee started recklessly pointing out the former House speaker's record to Republican primary voters. Soon enough, a friend of Newt's gave $5 million to an opposing super PAC, and it released a fabulist account of Romney's career at Bain Capital, forcing the former Massachusetts governor to defend his time in the private sector.

The ensuing conversation might have seemed pretty useful to some voters, as it focused the media on the candidates' records, but do we really need all that information?

We're lucky that comedian Stephen Colbert has decided to bring more attention to this newfangled plague of "money in politics" — first by starting his own super PAC and then by "exploring" a bid for the White House.

Colbert handed his PAC to fellow comedian Jon Stewart, satirically excoriating the idea that PACs and candidates don't coordinate. (They don't need to, obviously.) He did a wonderful job exposing the deep absurdity of our campaign finance system.

Luckily, I totally get Colbert: I also wonder why citizens have to ask permission from government to spend their own money supporting candidates and political parties. I also wonder how a nation that supposedly values free speech allows government to limit the amount of money individuals or groups can spend on engagement in politics.

Colbert doesn't need a super PAC. I get that, too. Those who run Comedy Central — or Fox News or CNN or any publishing house — are free to spend as much as they'd like producing politically motivated shows or books or websites. They can hire on-air talent that explicitly or implicitly endorses positions and parties. Newspaper corporations regularly endorse candidates. Yet if you and 12 of your friends wanted to back a candidate, you would have to report to a government agency. Nothing says freedom like filling out paperwork.

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen probably put it best when he wrote: "I am comfortable with dirty politics. I fear living with less free speech." Cohen, though, is in the minority. Polls show that Americans support these kinds of limits on free speech — including the reversal of the Citizens United decision. So complaining about super PACs and Citizens United is a political safe zone.

Remember, though, that implicit in the crusades of campaign reform activists is a belief that voters are gullible, hapless and easily manipulated. Isn't it strange that those peddling "democracy" have so little faith in those who mete it out? Now, I don't have much faith in democracy, but money doesn't make politics dirty; politicians make politics dirty. The least a free nation can do is allow its citizens to hear — or ignore — all we can before we make our terrible decisions on Election Day.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Blaze. Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi. To find out more about David Harsanyi and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM



Comments

0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
David Harsanyi
Apr. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
30 31 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 1 2 3
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Walter Williams
Walter E. WilliamsUpdated 23 Apr 2014
Marc Dion
Marc DionUpdated 21 Apr 2014
Deb Saunders
Debra J. SaundersUpdated 20 Apr 2014

21 Oct 2009 Fox News Is Biased? So What?

7 Oct 2010 Republicans Can't Give In on Trade

15 Apr 2010 24-Hour Party People