Today, the Supreme Court struck down limits on the total campaign contributions an individual can make in any given election cycle. The Supreme Court got it right — but only partially. While the justices ruled that Americans can give to as many candidates they want, they unfortunately kept the limits on the amount of each individual contribution. Of course, Democrats are howling.
In an imperfect world, the best we can hope for in an open political system such as ours is that informed voters will make a wise decision based on what they learn. Campaigns and candidates should have to disclose the contributions they receive on a real-time basis and then let voters decide if the money is corrupting or not. Democrats obviously think voters are too dumb to decide for themselves, so they try to regulate who can give what to whom. And that has created a system in which the campaigns and parties are regulated, but wealthy individuals and third-party groups are allowed to spend all the money they want — while keeping their true identity a secret.
Our campaign finance system is doing a great disservice to the country, but not in the way the usual whiners suggest. The problem isn’t too much money — after all, who is to say how much is too much? Ultimately, campaigns should be between candidates, parties and voters. We should seek ways to regulate and exclude everybody and everything else. If a campaign wants to take a jillion dollars from a billionaire, the campaign should be able to take the money and then be required to report that contribution. Again, let voters decide how they feel about it. Of course, the Democrats don’t like the idea of too much transparency because they want to keep a secret the support of their billionaire contributors and the extensive role the unions play in elections.
Today’s Supreme Court decision is helpful, but it needs to go further. In the meantime, the two-party system is being eroded, and an anonymous, limited few have a disproportionate impact on our campaigns and, therefore, on our government. Absent any reforms that Congress would pass and the president would sign, the best we can hope for is additional incremental decisions from the Supreme Court that will put us on a path to greater transparency and a better-informed voting public.
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