Free Campaign Finance

by pjamesbeardsley

In an excellent piece in the Washington Post defending the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, George Will says the following:

The one certainty about campaign finance laws is that all of them are, and ever will be, written by incumbent legislators.

Will’s statement is so obvious as to seem trivial, but it’s something that many people in either political party don’t understand (the law involved in Citizens United was sponsored or signed by the last 3 Republican Presidential candidates and Russ Feingold). What do nearly all incumbents have in common?  They want to get re-elected.  If you don’t think they’ll write laws that protect incumbents, you’re either ignorant to that simple fact or to history.

And by history, I mean very recent history.  In the last decade level recent.  The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, aka McCain-Feingold, was a piece of legislation passed in 2002 and enacted in 2003 to do exactly that.  Some of the worst parts were overturned by Supreme Court in Citizens United, but parts still exist.  It’s time for them to go.

Limiting (and complicating) campaign financing in any way will always help incumbents.  They have money, name recognition, and a sufficiently organized campaign team already. They also know the maze of laws already, because they either got elected under them or wrote them.  Both are steep walls for a challenger to climb.

This isn’t complicated stuff. If we’re a free society, we should allow people to do with their money whatever non-violent thing they want.  Even if that’s giving money to a political campaign.  Even if it’s one to which we’re opposed.  Free campaign finance.