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The Supreme Court recently ruled in Citizens United that corporations are essentially people with the right of free speech, in this case, in the form of more or less unlimited political spending on behalf of a candidate. With over a billion dollars being spent on the 2008 Presidential election alone, do you believe we should outlaw all political contributions, change the Constitution and publicly finance elections in the United States? Interested in both sides of the argument.
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I'm going to get quite radical with my response. I think we should go back to the good ole' days when political candidates came to the regions to meet the people and give their tent speeches. I'm tiring of the ridiculous amount of money spent on slandering the opposition, and the corporate "back scratching" . Yes, I know, it's politics, and it has always been that way. But I thought we were up for "a change from business as usual"? Let's change up our political campaigning, making any televised advertisement illegal--just like hard alcohol and cigarettes. Political rhetoric can be just as dangerous.
While it might sound like a good idea to limit or eliminate the role of big businesses in the campaign process I don't see it happening. They would find ways to fund their candidates in what ever system is set up.
How many of us could "earn" the money we earn without taxpayer supported laws and governments, or for many of us on this board directly financing our paychecks through property taxes? But we can save that for another time.
Either have straight public financing where everyone gets the same amount or get rid of all the rules and allow anyone and everyone to donate as much as they want. We already have a system of maintaining the status quo and keeping power centered in the wealthy sector of the population, why maintain the front that we have now, pretending that this isn't the case?
I don't see how you could do this. It would be like telling Oprah she can't endorse a book or the American Cattlemen can't sue Oprah for saying she didn't like beef and no one else should eat it, either.
Famous and rich people are going to endorse political candidates. They have this right just as the people (who spend the time to research a candidate's views and make a decision based on their research) have the right to cast a vote for their chosen candidate.
Limiting campaign contributions by individuals would be an unacceptable limitation on free speech. Financing presidential campaigns with public money would require that the money first be taken from those who earned it who could put it to much better use for themselves. I do not see that forbiding corporate campaign contributions would limit anyone's free speech; a corporation is not a person in fact, only through a legal sophism of the Supreme Court, handed down because corporations are our current masters.
Corporations already have too much influence over legislation in the form of lobbyists and have already polluted one entire branch of our government. It would be an interesting experiment to allow such financing for candidates for one house of Congress but not for the other. Ultimately, however, I personally believe our government should be "of the people, by the people, for the people" not "of big business, by big business, for big business."
Although I share pohnpei397's concerns about limited speech, is there not any way in which we can limit the gratuitously excessive money that is spent (wasted?) on advertisements? And is not the focus on soundbites actually something that detracts from politics? Can we look to the higher amount of money that Obama managed to raise for advertising as one of the reasons for his success? It seems to make something of a travesty of politics...
I'm going to go with no... I think that it would really be too intrusive to put this limits on speech on behalf of a candidate. I don't see how we could manage a system where we limited the money but yet maintained our right to speak out on politics. Would we, for example, need to ban editorials about candidates? And if not, how does paying for a campaign ad differ, morally speaking, from an editorial endorsement?
Over a billion dollars spent in 2008 US Presidential election does not sound all that big money when we think of it as just a few dollars per US citizen.
In elections people need to make correct choice about the right candidate, and for doing this people need information. Presidential campaigns are essential for providing this information to people. Thus, the real issue in not the amount of money spent on the political campaigns, or the sources of funds for these campaigns. The real issue is the nature of campaign in terms of the nature of information disseminated through the campaigns. If political campaigns are used only for disseminating true and relevant information to the voters, then the campaigns are desirable irrespective of the amount or sources of funds. However if the campaigns are used for just creating false impressions about the candidates than even one dollar spent from any source is unjustified.
Thus the real need is to ensure that the campaigns are used only to inform and educate the voters and not for just impressing them with false brand images of the candidates.
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