Free Speech? What!?!

The always excellent Jonathan Rauch has a piece up over at Reason about further absurdities relating to the national embarrassment known as McCain-Feingold. Apparently, Congress is now considering regulation of 527 groups. Yay! People found a loophole in the absurd campaign finance laws and exploited it. But we can’t have that, because unfettered political expression is a bad thing, mmmkay? So let’s close up that loophole, quick, before it affects the 2006 cycle. Well, Mr. Rauch is perceptive enough to point out the issues raised by some wanks’ descriptions of the 527 “problem”:
"Large donations to 527 groups spending money to influence federal elections can buy influence with federal candidates, even if the 527 groups are operating independently. Since such 527 groups are spending money to elect federal candidates, and since the source and amounts of these unlimited contributions are readily available to the candidates, the contributions can buy influence with the federal candidates benefiting from the expenditures by the 527 groups."

In other words, the problem is not corruption, at least not as traditionally understood; the problem is influence. In yet other words, influence is corruption. And in yet other words, because politics is all about influence, politics is corruption—at least until all contributions to political causes are so small that politicians won't feel particularly grateful to anybody.
He also has a good idea about how to fix the “problem”, but I’m not betting that anyone will listen to him.


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