Regulating Campaign Spending: The Democratic Drumbeat Continues - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Regulating Campaign Spending: The Democratic Drumbeat Continues

We ought to be debating the fact that corporations are now controlling not only the Republican Party, but the government of the United States.”
Howard (“Screamin’”) Dean, November 9, Meet the Press

“Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.”
Hillary (“What Difference Does It Make”) Clinton, October 24, Boston

54-42, Senate Democrats vote in favor of S.J. Resolution 19, to gut the First Amendment, September 11
reported by Mark Pfiefle on this page

Yes, the Liberals and Democrats are back at it again with their anti-business and anti-First Amendment activities. In addition to the ones cited above is a piece published the day before the election by Chris Frates on, entitled “What Americans Could Have Bought Instead of a $4 Billion Election.” I don’t know which was more foolish – Mr. Frates’ piece or the decision by CNN to post it.

Frates contrasts the $4 billion spent on this election with the money that could be spent on other, more worthwhile things:

• Ten times what the U.S. has committed to fighting Ebola.

• Buying 25 F-18 fighter jets.

• Education for 12,000 students K-12.

Then he contrasts the $4 billion to what a single company, Apple, spent on advertising in a single year: about $1 billion.

How do you compare apples and oranges? How do you compare the cost of campaigning in an election in a democracy with — anything? There are a lot of people in this world who would love to have the chance to spend any of their money in support of a candidate or party free of the dictatorship under which they live. As we say, “Freedom isn’t free.” 

What level of aggregate campaign spending would Frates deem reasonable by a free people? What level would he impose by government fiat?

Would Frates prefer that all campaign spending, whatever the amount, be publicly financed, that is, a sum extracted forcibly from the citizens?

Frates admits that the bulk of the money in this election was spent “by parties and candidates on the nuts and bolts of campaigning, things like staff salaries, advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts.” (In his view, ads by parties and candidates are at least halfway okay.) A quarter of the $4 billion dollars, he writes, was spent by “outsiders” not formally tied to candidates or parties “trying to buy influence.” And some portion of that by groups that don’t disclose their donors, that is, what he calls “dark money groups.” 

How sinister is the “dark money” adjective. Lions and tigers and bears, o my!

Additional exhibits in the current campaign against campaigns include one on Sunday, November 2, when the New York Times, ran a piece by Nicholas Confessore and Derek Willis entitled “A Flood of Late Spending on Midterm Elections, from Murky Sources.” It began ominously: “A stealthy coterie of difficult-to-trace outside groups is slipping tens of millions of dollars of attacks ads and negative automated telephone calls into the final days of the midterm campaign…” Confessore was back at it again on Wednesday, November 5, with “Outside Groups with Deep Pockets Lift G.O.P.”

Let’s try applying “common sense analytics” to this situation.

First, the $4 billion Americans spent on the 2014 election is paltry compared to the $100 billion annually on illicit drugs, the $125 billion in 2010 on casino gambling, or the $66.5 billion in 2011 on lottery tickets, the $165 billion annually on unwanted snacks and meals, $7 billion on ATM fees in 2010, $2.3 billion on tattoos, and $310 million on pet Halloween costumes.

Second, $4 billion for a population of 319 million is about $13 per person. If we spread this sum over the length of the election, let’s be conservative and use three months, it becomes about 13 cents per day per person.  (By comparison, a coffee drinker spends $1,100 per year or $3 per day.)

Third, the aggregate amount of campaign spending if everyone gave the maximum allowed by law would render this $4 billion paltry. And who could complain if everyone donated the maximum allowed by law? In 2011, the Obama campaign boasted that a million people had made donations, with 98% of them averaging $56.   

I just don’t think the Left should have a hissy fit about the aggregate spending on campaigns. And we shouldn’t let them get away with their incessant blithering.

Next, consider the slander that corporations have the federal government in their hip pocket. It is absolutely true that, when we spend money for a candidate or a party, we hope that it will result in victory — both in the election and in the governance. But that is not a bribe. That is not corruption. It’s called d-e-m-o-c-r-a-c-y.  These expenditures are investments in democracy. And the advocates for illegal immigration, higher taxes, and “free” government services make the same investments. To be sure, they would like to achieve results without having to spend anything on a campaign, without having to spend anything to persuade their fellow citizens.

[[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_original”,”fid”:”96273″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”399″,”style”:”float: right;”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”239″}}]]I had thought that prosecutors had been chalking up a number of convictions, like that of Virginia Governor McDonnell for his relationship with Star Scientific, a corporation. And a current list of convictions could be added here. Whatever evidence Screamin’ Howie Dean has, he should bring it to federal and state authorities.

If Apple can determine, free of governmental interference, what monies it will spend to advertise its products, I should be able to determine, free of governmental interference, what monies I will spend to persuade fellow citizens to vote for the candidates and policies I prefer. And I should be free to pool my money with like-minded people.

Don’t let the anti-democrats shape the debate by agreeing to call money spent anonymously by people or groups who are neither candidates nor parties “dark” money. Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense anonymously in 1776. He and his publisher spent money to print and distribute his 48 pages that spread like wildfire through the Colonies. Let’s call this kind of money “Thomas Paine money.” 

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