Reading Charles Krauthammer is a little bit like a more sophisticated form of nutpicking, but we’re probably going to hear more like this:
Open the floodgates, and let the monies, big and small, check and balance each other. And let transparency be the safeguard against corruption. As long as you know who is giving what to whom, you can look for, find and, if necessary, prosecute corrupt connections between donor and receiver.
This used to be my position. No longer. I had not foreseen how donor lists would be used not to ferret out corruption but to pursue and persecute citizens with contrary views. Which corrupts the very idea of full disclosure.
It is now an invitation to the creation of enemies lists. Containing, for example,Brendan Eich, forced to resign as Mozilla CEO when it was disclosed that six years earlier he’d given $1,000 to support a referendum banning gay marriage. He was hardly the first. Activists compiled blacklists of donors to Proposition 8 and went after them. Indeed, shortly after the referendum passed, both the artistic director of the California Musical Theatre in Sacramento and the president of the Los Angeles Film Festival were hounded out of office.
The Will/Krauthammer justification for unlimited campaign contributions is that it is free speech protected by the Constitution, and it’s just a happy coincidence that the political party they back has more money to spend on political donations. Now that they’ve installed a Supreme Court that agrees with them, they’re trying to turn the reasonable consequences of free speech into some form of persecution. Perhaps this will be considered stereotyping on my part, but I’m just guessing that non-profits like musical theaters and film festivals derive a more-than-average amount of their donations from gay patrons and their friends. If the artistic director of one of those places were to be photographed holding a “God Hates Fags” sign, they’d no doubt lose their job, because their protest would enrage their donor base. I’m sure Krauthammer et. al. would cry and moan about the unjustness of it all, but they would also question the judgment of someone with that job making that protest. If campaign spending is really free speech, why is it a tragedy when the same ugly sentiment, expressed with a check rather than a sign, produces the same predictable result?
(via Kevin Drum)