Some people say that campaign finance reform won’t abridge freedom of speech. Just regulate how money may be spent or raised. Of course, in campaigns all you do is talk, whether on the air or in person or on billboards or balloons. That’s where the money goes. Speech. Yakking. Communication. To get folks to vote for you. It’s just a coincidence, I guess, that campaign finance regulations make it harder for challengers to talk than for incumbents.
Former presidential candidate John McCain is pushing a dangerous proposal that allows politicians to regulate those who speak against them. And it’s happening at the state level too. In many of the proposals, the link between violating free speech and protecting the incumbent is hard to miss. In Montana, one legislator wants to give office-holders the right to review critical ads in advance. Groups would have to show their ad to the targeted politician before the ad can air. If the politician “rejects” the content and gee, what are the odds of that happening? the ad has to say so. Free speech?
In Virginia, one bill would have forced newspapers to collect ID from anyone submitting a political ad. The bill was defeated. But similar legislation is making the rounds in other states. Speech is just too scary to just let people talk, apparently. Paul McMasters, with Freedom Forum, says, “The answer to campaign speech we don’t like is more speech, not less speech. . . .” You can say that again. At least for now.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.