cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
The U.S. Supreme Court decided last week on a significant case involving freedom of speech and the impact of money on elections. That decision has caused much wringing of hands on both sides of the issue.
There are those who believe that the court has now opened the floodgates to tons of money being pumped into elections with little or no ability to stem that flow.
There are also those who believe that this decision hits some of the things that the McCain-Feingold bill did that have been problematic.
Whether or not intentional, I have chafed since its signing over some of the things that McCain-Feingold forced upon us. I do not believe that it should be illegal for advertisements that target specific people to be printed or shown within 60 days of an election. This had, and has, the result of helping to retain the incumbent when that deck is more than sufficiently stacked in favor of the incumbents anyway.
Our government argued that it was prepared to apply such limits to all forms of communication in the public sphere, including the Internet. The idea of limiting our ability to opine and discuss merits openly within sixty days of an election is dangerous, and I believe goes against our First Amendment rights of free speech. Such incremental concessions can be upon us before we realize and, once in place, are very difficult, if not impossible, to change.
The counter-argument is that McCain-Feingold limited the amount of money that could be deployed in election races; the proponents of McCain-Feingold say that it kept corporate money from distorting election races.
To the contrary, McCain-Feingold simply forced that money to find a different way into the debate. The so-called “529” dollars certainly found their way into the debate. Money in elections is similar to water and leaky roofs. It will find its way no matter how hard one tries to stop it.
This decision did provide for the fact that the sources of funds could be made public by action of law. I think that is ample protection for both parties in election campaigns; the source of the dollars tells us much about the message they purchase. The incumbent has virtually all the Aces in his or her hand when running for re-election as it is. We did not, and do not, need to further protect the incumbent.
Giving unfettered control of the rules in elections to politicians gives me a bad feeling as a cynic. We would simply give away our rights to make changes as we, the people, see fit. The idea that the foxes make the rules about the hen houses and their construction is foreign to any thoughts of fairness.