I have a new piece at the Library of Law & Liberty, which responds to the following prompt:
Should a democracy, in the name of combating political corruption, and in the name of equal participation in politics, regulate the formation of political opinions—or should it be guided by the principle of the free formation of opinion that emerges spontaneously in society?
And I frame the issue as follows:
The phrase “campaign-finance reform” assumes a premise: that the way American political campaigns are run needs reform. Specifically, it assumes that the problems in our political discourse are principally ones about who pays for campaigns. These problems are alluded to, in breathless tones, as “money in politics,” or “dark money,” or, most glibly, “Citizens United.”
Consider, though, that there isn’t a problem with “money in politics” unless there is something bad that “money in politics” does. Rather than assuming a premise of reform, we ought to step back and consider whether or not campaign finance needs reforming. As we evaluate competing justifications for reform, we should be mindful, as citizens of a nation built upon regular and meaningful elections, that these be regulated to do the least damage to our constitutionally guaranteed rights, that is, to the open exchange of political views. As we will see, this priority is largely lacking in today’s reforms, whether existing or proposed.