Tuesday, July 17, 2012


From SFGate, a hostile editorial (op-ed? not clear):
D.C. Democrats are pushing the Disclose Act again. Disclose stands for Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections. The ACLU and National Right to Life Committee oppose this bill because they fear it would chill free speech. As far as the anti-abortion group is concerned, Disclose stands for "Deterring Independent Speech about Congress except by Labor Organizations and Selected Elites."

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., frames this year's bill, which failed to win a floor vote in the Senate on Monday, as a reform made necessary by the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision to allow independent expenditure campaigns to spend unlimited money from corporations, plutocrats and unions.

For once, I find myself opposed to the ACLU position. If spending truly were speech, chilling campaign contributions by identifying contributors might have a chilling effect on free speech. But the Roberts Court notwithstanding, spending is not speech: inequalities in campaign spending are surely the most corrosive influence on actual free speech by natural humans (not corporate entities, and not PACs or SuperPACs) of any in the long history of campaign abuses. Historically, the party that spends the most money on advertising (usually negative advertising, but put that aside for now) is the party that wins a given office, and historically and at present, that party is almost certainly the GOP. What could be more inimical to free speech regarding a partisan contest than effectively unlimited "speech" (i.e., spending) by Republicans and severely limited "speech" (i.e., spending) by Democrats? They should have renamed the Citizens United decision the "GOP Victory Assurance" decision. However imperfect the DISCLOSE Act may be, the notion that we can merely do nothing about this inequity and yet continue to call ourselves a representative democracy is ludicrous.

I'll revisit this topic, but right now I have other responsibilities.

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