Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How more money in campaigns could make for smarter voters

So Bill O'Rielly and John Stassel are arguing the merits of the Supreme Court's decision to strike down a key element of Campaign Finance law. That is, the Supreme Court has determined that Congress cannot limit the amount of money that corporations, unions or organizations spend to get out a political message.

Stassel stood up for free speech, but missed the main point. O'Rielly expressed concern that a foreign government could funnel big dollars into the U.S. for political purposes. That's true. But to assume that the American voter (it's still one man, one vote) is going to go for whatever idea has the most money behind it, is insulting. Suppose a law were proposed that each Thursday, every man, woman and child in America smash their own thumb with a hammer. Now suppose the Chinese government spends $100 billion promoting it. Would you vote for it? What if the ads were really funny?

Here's an idea for real campaign finance reform. What if individuals actually paid attention to what they were voting on? What if they educated themselves with regard to the underlying principals of the issue? What if they actually evaluated a candidate's competence for the job they're seeking?

We have a choice here. Dispense with freedom of speech, because we fear some may speak too much, or make more thoughtful decisions on an individual basis. The latter could actually make us all wiser and wouldn't cost us a dime.

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