Recently, the Supreme Court struck down a law that limited total campaign contributions during a two year election cycle, finding that the overall limit was unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
This decision, much like the Citizens United decision, put the left in hysterics claiming that it is an “existential threat” to democracy, that it is akin to the Dred Scott decision and of course, courtesy of Harry Reid, that it will allow the villainous Koch brothers to rule and ruin America.
Hysterics and hyperbole aside, I am here to make a bold statement – money is not the problem.
We are told time and time again that money rules elections. We are all helpless victims of overspending by political interests that wield power over us through their contributions and ad campaigns. Naturally, we need to limit those contributions so that they don't have so much sway over elections, right?
Wrong. Money doesn't rule elections, apathy and ignorance do.
Signs advocating for and against a late term abortion ban hang on a fence outside of a voting site at Eisenhower Middle School in Albuquerque, N.M., Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. Albuquerque voters will decide whether to ban abortions after 20 weeks following an emotional and graphic campaign that has included protests and hundreds of thousands of dollars on television and radio ads that have brought out more than twice as many early voters as the recent mayoral elections. (AP Photo/Juan Antonio Labreche)
I am completely against any immigration bill that allows amnesty and does not secure our border. So if Marco Rubio and John McCain spent $1 million on ads specifically targeting me alone to show me how good their immigration bill is, do you think that money and those ads would change my mind?
Of course not. I will never believe that the rule of law is to be disregarded and I will always believe that the protection of our borders, sovereignty and laws is a good and worthy cause. No amount of money will change that because I know what I believe and I know what is being proposed.
The problem isn't that there is too much money in elections, it is that people have stopped caring about and have given up on being involved in the direction of the country.
If people were engaged, informed and could actually have political discussions in a calm, rational and adult manner, then the ads would be far less influential than they are now. People would know what they believe and know what the candidates stand for without paid political ads. And come on, do you really trust politicians to be honest about themselves or their opponent?
A sign discourages lobbyists from entering a hall that leads to the Maryland state senate chambers in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, on the first day of the 2014 legislative session. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
But special interests and money shape politics and corrupt our government, so clearly we have to limit contributions so that they don't have so much sway over what goes on in Washington, right?
Wrong again. Money only shapes Washington because Washington has the power to move money.
Do lobbyists knock on your door and hand you tons of cash so that you will support some kind of law that benefits their client? If they do, please email me your address and consider taking on a roommate.
My guess is that they don't. Why is that? Because you don't have the power to do anything. The reason lobbyists and special interests are in Washington is because Washington has given themselves the power to do what they want.
The problem is in the scope of power of the federal government.
You want to limit the influence of money in Washington? Limit the power of Washington. Problem solved.
If the federal government was actually constitutionally limited, then the influence of money, special interest groups and lobbyists would be limited and greatly diminished.
(AP Photo/J. David Ake)
Lobbyists wouldn’t be involved in health care anymore. Special interest groups wouldn’t be pushing for business handouts and laws regulating private businesses. No more lobbying on welfare, food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, gay marriage, traditional marriage, gun control, etc.
A vast number of special interest groups and lobbyists would no longer find Washington, D.C. useful to their interests and would have to return to the state level, or even more locally in order to push for the legislation they seek.
This ruling is a small step in the restoration of a true and unrestricted right to free speech, but I agree with Clarence Thomas that it didn’t go far enough. In his separate opinion, he felt that any and all restrictions on campaign contributions should be removed:
“This case represents yet another missed opportunity to right the course of our campaign finance jurisprudence by restoring a standard that is faithful to the First Amendment. Until we undertake that reexamination, we remain in a ‘halfway house’ of our own design.”
If the court has decided that an overall contribution cap is unconstitutional, then how is an individual cap different? Does one of those somehow violate the First Amendment while the other remains in line with it? The First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, so wouldn’t any restrictions to donations therefore be against the First Amendment?
The original point of those laws was to limit corruption in politics, a goal that we all would like to see achieved. But if we have to violate the First Amendment by regulating how much money one can give because of political corruption, then our problem isn’t money, it’s the people we are electing.
The left constantly demonizes inanimate objects as the cause of what ails us. Money ruins politics, food makes people fat and guns kill people. They continually blame the object rather than the person who bears responsibility for its use. Food doesn’t make you fat unless you use it improperly and guns don’t kill people unless you use them for that purpose. The responsibility falls on the person, not the object.
I will say it again, money is not the problem. Blaming and demonizing pieces of paper simply removes us from accepting responsibility for our actions or inaction – it’s lazy.
If we want money out of elections, then we have to take responsibility for learning about the candidates ourselves. If we want money out of politics, then we have to take responsibility for electing people who will return the federal government to its constitutionally limited role. We take back our republic when we take back our responsibilities, and no amount of money can change that.
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