The Insiders: Empowering campaigns and political parties

February 20, 2013
The Supreme Court (Karen Bleier/Getty Images)
The Supreme Court (Karen Bleier/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court is taking up McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a case which seeks to unbridle the limits on individual contributions to political campaigns.   A decision to end these limits is long overdue. Right now, we operate in a bizarre universe where the only political entities that are regulated and limited in the contributions they can take are campaigns and the two political parties. Anonymous individuals and outside interest groups can spend all they want to, and do so under the veil of secrecy. This offends common sense.

Let’s limit the outsiders, the anonymous jillionaires (that both sides have) and the interest groups who are eroding the role of the campaigns and the political parties. If you want to give, you should have to give to the candidates or to the political parties, and those contributions should be disclosed on a real-time basis.  Period.

Our campaign finance system is never going to be perfect, but there is no case to make that our democracy is stronger when we limit what campaigns can spend, but provide anonymity to and impose no limits on what some outside interest can spend. Our current system has it exactly backwards.

In Hilary Rosen’s post this morning, she gratuitously mentions energy and mining and takes a shot at the Koch brothers, suggesting their motives are personally selfish.  This serves no purpose and is unfair, since the Democrats raise more anonymous money and have more active outside groups — yes, like labor unions — than the Republicans do.  I’ll resist the temptation to delve into the malfeasance of the likes of the Solyndra backers and the dominant presence of George Soros on the Democratic side. The fact is, they all played by the rules, but the rules need to be changed.  They’ve been allowed to become political parties in and of themselves, and in some cases, they spend more money than the campaigns actually do. Let’s stop this and empower our candidates, campaigns and parties. The Supreme Court can start the reallocation of power by overturning the contribution limits.

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Jonathan Capehart | February 20, 2013