Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Jim Babka on Citizens United v. FEC

Jim Babka at Positiveliberty has an interesting post on the recent Citizens United case (Click here to see it in full). I rarely agree with Mr. Babka's post, but here I'm in almost total agreement. He says, in part,
Your [i.e., the hypothetical incumbent who'd benefit under McCain-Feingold] opposition might be small, spontaneous, and inexperienced. That might also mean too cash poor to afford attorneys or consultants to navigate the perilous law. But the Powers That Be — the authors and enforcers of these laws — always seem to have the resources to operate under these constricting rules. Is that a mere coincidence?

No, it appears to be intentional. After all, when contributions are limited in size, one is required to raise more of them in order to pile up sufficient marketing funds. That’s always easier to do for incumbents. A political contribution can be an investment or it can be protection money. But what does a donor gain by supporting your opposition effort? Given that his contribution is too small to settle the matter in the way he’d prefer, but big enough to be reported so that the incumbent office-holder can see it, the answer may well be “trouble.” So…
This is substantially the point #2 I tried to make in my previous post (here).

I part company with Mr. Babka when he suggests in his post that the media are actively "lying" to the public about the import of the decision. I think it's more a case of people honestly disagreeing about the import and consequences of the case. But I refer to his post because it is much better written than my point on the same topic.

Update, 2-3-10: I should emphasize that while I agree with the result in Citizens United, I still find the corporate dominance--and the dominance of money in particular--in politics to be disturbing. I oppose bans on corporation speech. I believe it is better to keep in place a bad system instead of adopting reforms that would create a worse system. If there is a more effective way to regulate campaign finance that answers the two objections in the post of mine I link to above, I might support it.

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