January 23, 2012 | 6:10 PM
Freedom of Speech or Freedom to Spend?
What a week for news. Whether it was ogling to the half sunken Italian cruise ship debacle, watching Newt broadside John King, the Supremes slapping the hands of Texas District Court Judges in their judicial activism in Texas Voting Districts, or maybe one of the best weekend of NFL conference football in memory (yes, football is political); this was a week to remember.
But, there were also some other minor headline news that, while not as dramatic, still pose some of the most interesting and thought provoking topics of our time and generations to come: The First Amendment and its impact on this generation.
While the current falling status of SOPA and PIPA fall under this topic, that will have to wait for another blog on another day.
A few years back when McCain-Feingold became law in 2002, it was the culmination of 8 years of work George Soros has started after the 1994 Congressional mid-terms put Republicans in charge of Congress for the first time in 40 plus years. The following excerpt from Discover the Networks.org laid out a very straightforward vision Soros had:
Most notably, the billionaire financier George Soros began promoting such legislation shortly after the 1994 midterm elections, when for the first time in nearly half a century, Republicans had won strong majorities in both houses of Congress. Political analysts at the time attributed the huge Republican gains in large part to the effectiveness of television advertising―most notably the “Harry and Louise” series where a fictional suburban couple exposed the many hidden, and distasteful, details of Hillary Clinton‘s proposals for a more socialized national health-care system. Indeed the 1994 election became, to a considerable degree, a referendum on this attempted government takeover of one-sixth of the U.S. economy―and on the Democratic President (Bill Clinton) who had tacitly endorsed it.
Soros was angry that such advertisements had proven to be capable of overriding the influence of the major print and broadcast news media, which, because they were overwhelmingly sympathetic to Democrat agendas, had given Hillary’s plan a great deal of free, positive publicity for months. Three weeks after the 1994 elections, Soros announced that he intended to “do something” about “the distortion of our electoral process by the excessive use of TV advertising.”2 That “something” would be campaign-finance reform.
Starting in 1994, Soros’s Open Society Institute (OSI) and a few other leftist foundations began bankrolling front groups and so-called “experts” whose aim was to persuade Congress to swallow the fiction that millions of Americans were clamoring for “campaign-finance reform.” This deceptive strategy was the brainchild of Sean Treglia, a former program officer with the Pew Charitable Trusts.3 Between 1994 and 2004, some $140 million of foundation cash was used to promote campaign-finance reform. Nearly 90 percent of this amount derived from just eight foundations, one of which was OSI, which contributed $12.6 million to the cause.4 Among the major recipients of these OSI funds were such pro-reform organizations as Common Cause ($625,000); Public Campaign ($1.3 million); Democracy 21 ($300,000); the Alliance For Better Campaigns ($650,000); the Center For Public Integrity ($1.7 million); the Center For Responsive Politics ($75,000); Public Citizen ($275,000); and the Brennan Center for Justice (more than $3.3 million).5
Ultimately, these efforts let to McCain-Feingold in 2002. For a review of this article in full (I HIGHLY suggest you read it), here is the link: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=456 . From the date this bill was placed into law, political freedom of speech was quashed against any view that was not supported by the liberal media. McCain-Feingold was laid for an ultimate goal – find legal determinations for anything that could be interpreted as “corporate” spending on political candidates. How far could that interpretation go? Let’s say you work for a corporation out of favor with the current political administration. That corporation pays you wages. Those wages, in turn, might be donated to the candidate of your choice. You see the path this could lead. Before you say “it would never happen” recall the liberties this administration has shredded since January 2009.
Not quite 8 years later in January 2010 and the Supremes knock the ball back towards free speech with the ruling on Citizens United Vs. The Federal Elections Commission. The 5/4 decision by the Higher Court threw Mc Cain-Feingold out along with another Michigan lawsuit from 1990 regarding corporate spending in campaigns. That opened the door for the now infamous “superpacs” that allow groups to spend donations from corporations, labor unions, and whatever happens to donate in unlimited amounts. That is subject to the candidate having no coordination or control over the pac. While the impact of the superpacs were limited in the 2010 Congressional mid-terms as lawyers were still feeling out the ruling implications, the 2012 General Election will have no such intimidation concerns. The Republican Presidential Primary has already seen large amounts being spent on candidates. With a pre-cursor of what Obama and the Democrats will be facing in the fall, cries of “unfair”, and “common voices will be drowned” are now starting to wash across the liberal spin machine.
As the whine across the liberal plains begin to spin, current Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia made a rather straightforward remark regarding the current political barrage of spending now and yet to come:
Scalia was asked about the decision during a presentation before the South Carolina Bar on Saturday, exactly two years after the court handed down the 5-4 decision in the case that led to the rise of Super PACs. They are outside groups affiliated with candidates that can take in unlimited contributions as long as they don’t directly coordinate with the candidate.
“I don’t care who is doing the speech — the more the merrier,” Scalia said. “People are not stupid. If they don’t like it, they’ll shut it off.”
The reality is that superpacs represent problems for both parties and all political ideologies. Money can and will drown out those without it. However, as Scalia points out, we all have the right (as well as the technology) to make the millions spent trivial if we simply turn off the ads. Other than the ads I have sought out, I have not see one yet that interfered or influenced me one iota. For those that still get their news from the newspaper or broadcast tv, you have a problem. For the rest of using alternative media, we have more than a fighting chance against superpac ads.
How do we know this? Well, take a look inside the numbers at what was spent in South Carolina.
Restore Our Future (Romney) spent $8.3 million
Make US Great Again (Perry) spent $4 million
Winning Our Future (Gingrich) spent $3.8 million
Endorse Liberty (Paul) spent $2.9 million
Our Destiny (Huntsman) spent $2.5 million
The reality is the primaries are watched, read, and researched by people actually involved in the process. Newt’s 12 point blowout underscores that. Now money does matter. It pays for team members, signs, and other grass roots work that is needed to win in any campaign. The debates are watched very carefully as well. John King did more for Newt than any superpac out there with his gaffe last Thursday.
Is it Freedom or Speech or Freedom to Spend? In reality, it is both. That is the good and bad of living in free societies.
Scalia is right. We are not stupid and not only can we turn the mother off; we can TIVO it as well.
I want that right to spend what I want on who and how I want to support. Even if that right gets exploited by slime and sometimes is a real stinkeroo.
Darren Yancy has always been a self-starter and hard-working individual. He knows the value of a dollar and through diligent perseverance has achieved the American Dream.