Why Super PACs Are Good for Democracy

Wealthy super PAC donors make politics more competitive.

In the two weeks before this month's Super Tuesday primaries, The Wall Street Journal reports, "outside political action committees supporting the Republican presidential hopefuls spent three times as much as the candidates themselves." Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) says the "undue influence" of these so-called super PACs, which can collect and spend as much as they want as long as they do not coordinate with candidates, "strikes at the heart of our democracy." 

If so, super PACs are more like a jolt from a defibrillator than a dagger in the chest. In both presidential and congressional primaries, these independent groups, funded mainly by wealthy individuals, have increased competitiveness, which is usually considered good for democracy. 

Rich people have always been free to spend their own money on political messages, either directly or (more controversially) through proxies such as 527 groups (named after a section of the Internal Revenue Code). But 2010 decisions by the Supreme Court and a federal appeals court seem to have encouraged such activity by explicitly recognizing a right to pool resources for independent expenditures. 

Critics argue, as Price did in U.S. News last month, that "outside groups shouldn't be able to spend unlimited sums of money to hijack the marketplace of ideas and drown out other voices, including those of candidates themselves." Note that Price identifies the people who talk too much as outsiders, as opposed to the insiders he prefers. The Supreme Court has rightly rejected this sort of reasoning, saying the First Amendment does not allow the government to mute the voices of some so that others may be heard. 

In any case, the result Price fears—that freedom of speech will allow rich people to dominate the discourse and dictate electoral outcomes—has not transpired. To the contrary, super PACs have made races less predictable and more interesting, giving a boost to candidates who otherwise would have been crippled by a lack of money. 

Even opponents of super PACs concede they have made the GOP presidential contest more competitive. "Take away the super PACs," the Sunlight Foundation's editorial director recently told Slate's David Weigel, "and Santorum would have probably had to drop out after Iowa. Gingrich might have had to drop out after South Carolina." 

Super PAC donors like billionaire investor Foster Friess (a Santorum supporter) and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson (a Gingrich fan) have enabled two of Mitt Romney's opponents to stick it out despite his big fundraising advantage. Such patrons indirectly serve the same function as the wealthy backers who enabled Eugene McCarthy to mount his history-changing anti-war challenge to LBJ in 1968, before Congress imposed limits on campaign donations.    

There is even a super PAC that is officially dedicated to fostering competitiveness: the Houston-based Campaign for Primary Accountability, which supports challengers to entrenched congressional incumbents, Republicans as well as Democrats. So far the group, whose main backers are three rich guys, has taken credit for the retirement of Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and last week's defeat of Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio). 

The New York Times reports that the Campaign for Primary Accountability is making politicians "nervous" and "increasing Congress's sense of insecurity." As evidence, it cites Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), who complains that voters who once distinguished between Congress and its members are starting to realize the institution they hate is composed of the people they keep re-electing. 

Incumbent representatives have a huge built-in advantage, routinely winning re-election at rates of more than 90 percent. Even in 2010, when the Democrats suffered historically large losses, the re-election rate was 85 percent. Yet the Times, sympathetic to the plight of anxious incumbents, evidently could not locate a single independent observer who thinks Congress could benefit from a bit more nervousness and insecurity. 

"Members say there is little they can do to stop the onslaught of third-party activity," the Times reports. Can it really be that in America politicians just have to let people criticize them?

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

© Copyright 2012 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  • rather||

    "... can collect and spend as much as they want as long as they do not coordinate with candidates"

    I'd rather see no laws than pretend ones

  • Bill||

    "I'd rather see no laws"

    See, you are slowly being assimilated.

    How would this be any different than saying that only individuals can give money, as long as they don't coordinate?

    And you do know that there have been several instances where candidates have been annoyed by ads or strategies that PACs have employed on their behalf, right?

  • rather||

    The PAC's political purpose to sling mud at another candidate while keeping the politically supported politician clean is in its infancy; I expect the tool will devolve into a false support of a candidate in order to slander the politician it was designed to support

  • KDN||

    I expect the tool will devolve into a false support of a candidate in order to slander the politician it was designed to support

    Concern Trolling: Coming soon to an election near you.

    I really don't see how this is a bad thing. I prefer people to understand just how sleazy the political class is. The more mud, the better.

  • ||

    Concern Trolling: Coming soon to an election near you.

    Soon?

  • KDN||

    Touche.

  • ||

    Didn't we already see a false flag ad in the primaries. Don't recall the specifics, but it was an offensive ad ostensibly in support of a candidate.

  • Jeffersonian||

    I've heard several of them in support of Gingrich, with minimal denegration of Romney.

  • Dekedin||

    Congress has less than a 10% approval rating, yet the NYT thinks the biggest threat to democracy are political outsiders. How are relevant again?

  • Dekedin||

    Ahem, "How are they relevant again?"

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Money buys the Government it wants

    As with, say, incumbents.

  • Bill||

    And they return the favor and buy future votes with gov't money.

    But somehow when the gov't spends it, the money magically is not evil any more.

  • Realist||

    That's Democracy for you.

  • Tim||

    You can't buy what isn't already for sale.

  • anon||

    In other words, Money buys the Government it wants, so big pools of money have the freedom to fuck over everybody else.

    Suuuure, that's why Gingrich is walking away with the Republican primary.

    Oh wait.

  • Brian||

    In other words, Money buys the Government it wants, so big pools of money have the freedom to fuck over everybody else.

    Or, people try to pool their money to influence the debate. Why do you assign negative motivations to everyone?

    If I wanted to collect money for a campaign to support public education, would that be bad for the public?

    Or, is it only in matters of elections that people are too feeble-minded to allow them to acquire too much information?

  • ||

    Man that makes a whole lot of sense to me dude. Wow.

    www.World-Anon.tk

  • Confusius Say||

    Crap ad.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Why Super PACs Are Good for Democracy

    This implies that democracy is, or can be, "good". Democracy is the tyranny of the majority.

  • Matrix||

    +1

    I'll take a libertarian monarchy over a democracy any day.

  • Bill||

    Monarchy with Monocles!!

    The new REASON slogan.

  • ||

    Monoclarchy.

  • ||

    "I'll take a libertarian monarchy over a democracy any day."

    Make me king ( or any of several regulars here ) and this would become a truly free country. The problem would be that only a small minority would be happy with that. There would be so much teeth-gnashing and hair tearing from the rest that the country would split apart.

    The country splitting into a control-freak, statist nation and a libertarian one.....I am trying to think of a down-side to that......

  • ||

    my job as king would just involve telling people "no" all the time.

    Leadership.

  • ||

    I am hoping the 'no's' would be in response to requests of - " we need to make those people ______ . "

  • ||

    duh.

    I think we all could share the position. Setup a conference table, we can each handle a line of petitioners, and the hall will echo with the Sound Of No.

  • Sparky||

    The hiiiiills are alliive with the sound of "fuck off".

  • Bruce Majors||

    Monachtarian?

  • Rhino||

    my 3 year old daughter would be the perfect libertarian dictator then. Ask her for anything. Her response is almost always NO! unless you mention cupcakes. never mind. she's too easy to bribe.

  • MNG||

    "Make me king ( or any of several regulars here ) and this would become a truly free country."

    The fact that some could say this with a straight face certainly speaks volumes.

  • ||

    You have no idea if my face is straight or otherwise fuckstick.

  • MNG||

    Oh, I imagine anyone who would casually toss off self-rule like that probably has some cross-eyed, inbred features, don't worry.

  • #||

    How is electing a congress who then throws power to executive agencies to do whatever they want "self rule?"

  • Sparky||

    Because when you leave out the rest of the statement for context that's what happens. When did you have your sense of humor removed?

  • Sparky||

    Wait, nevermind, I was able to answer my own question. You are a smart, highly-paid professional something and this is a serious website. No joking aloud.

  • Sparky||

    aloud allowed either

  • ||

    When did you have your sense of humor removed?

    fucking obamacare mandates...

  • KDN||

    The fact that some could say this with a straight face certainly speaks volumes.

    We're incorruptible. All internet libertarians are. There's no way we or any of our descendant monarchs would ever abuse the power granted to us because minarchist indoctrination would be a prerequisite for coronation.

    Honestly, I like John's idea for constitutional monarchy: the monarch has the power to overturn or veto X number of laws in a given time period and has no other non-ceremonial role. It's not perfect, but it does provide a check against the self-destructive nature of legislators and their tendency to let bad laws persist due to conservative inertia.

  • ||

    Yeah.....I was trying to think of some way to check the power of a monarchy...sorry, monoclarchy....I dont even trust myself with that kind of power.

  • ||

    I dont even trust myself with that kind of power.

    Sometimes you just gotta say "to hell with it" and take the plunge.

  • MNG||

    "I dont even trust myself with that kind of power."

    Nice back pedal there "fuckstick." Wouldn't it be nice if you realized how crazy your comments were BEFORE you said them rather than soon after?

  • ||

    I can't afford to keep replacing exploded Projection-o-meters at this rate, MNG.

  • Brandon||

    I would trust myself with that kind of power. Other than jumping to the front of lift lines, there's really nothing coercive that I would want anyway.

  • ||

    lift lines

    *insert british vocabulary joke here*

  • Realist||

    The fact remains Democracy doesn't work.

  • Tony||

    It's the only logical outcome for libertarians. They've professed hatred of democracy ad nauseum (because the vast majority of people aren't enlightened like them).

    People will be free if we have to shove it down their throats and stomp it on their heads.

  • MNG||

    Like I said, that they don't see the irony of such statements is amazing, eh?

  • ||

    Damn the two of you can be mendacious at times.

    Telling you that you are in charge of your own life/decisions is not tyranny. Telling you that you aren't in charge of my life/decisions is not tyranny either. I'm sorry if you don't like having to make decisions for yourself, but that's your own damn problem.

  • Tony||

    But people can't make collective decisions for themselves--a vast array of modern public policy is forbidden in your world. Forbidden. As in, people are not free to make those choices. Are people to make the choice, democratically, to have national healthcare?

  • Brandon||

    People are absolutely free to have national healthcare. They are just not "free" to force it on those who do not want to participate. Your concept of "freedom" always seems to conveniently leave out those people who disagree with you.

  • Tony||

    What if I don't want to participate in laws against murder? Can I opt out? Or do you not understand the concept that people living together don't always get their way 100% of the time?

  • Brandon||

    Ah yes, the false equivalence, Tony's fallback when the strawman fails. Murder deprives another person of his right to one of the following: Life, Liberty, Property. Choosing not to participate in National Healthcare does not. Not all laws are equal, Tony. You know this.

  • ||

    "....Tony. You know this."

    Brandon, Brandon, Brandon oh how wrong you are.

  • ||

    So it's your contention that without laws against murder everyone would be out to kill others?

    Damn you have a sick world view.

  • Bruce Majors||

    You don't understand that people "living together" doesn't mean I am your slave or property because of proximity. It can only mean voluntary association or voluntary disassociation, consensual interaction. Having read your posts for months I would never consent to being in an organization with you.

  • Rhino||

    you certainly can opt out. it's called breaking the law. your equating national healthcare to murder doesn't make any sense. murder is immoral. choosing to pay for your own health care or join a collective health care plan is neither moral or immoral. However, no paying for your health care, or forcing someone else to pay for it is stealing, which is immoral. breaking the law is not always a bad thing. see the Civil Rights movement.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Are people to make the choice, democratically, to have national healthcare?

    Not if the power to do so is not conferred upon Congress. And it isn't, so they people are not free to do so unless and until they amend the Constitution.

  • ||

    Jesus fucking christ, you idiot.

    Obamacare was not passed 'democratically'. A radical minority shoved it down everyone's throat. Even now the majority hate it and want it repealed.

    Fuck you tony. There you go again, facts be damned, you have to stick to the narrative.

  • Tony||

    You're just repeating shallow talking points handed to you from the GOP via FOX News, right down to the throat shoving. You don't know anything about Obamacare. I think it's not great policy, but I know why I think that. You don't. You just think it's the devil because fat men and blond beauty queens told you to think that.

    Socialized healthcare is the best working system we know about, so that's all you really need to suck on. Would be great if Obama could have achieved something better. But not with idiots serving insurance lobbies using hysteria as a political tactic dominating the narrative.

  • Tony||

    You're just repeating shallow talking points handed to you from the GOP via FOX News, right down to the throat shoving. You don't know anything about Obamacare. I think it's not great policy, but I know why I think that. You don't. You just think it's the devil because fat men and blond beauty queens told you to think that.

    Socialized healthcare is the best working system we know about, so that's all you really need to suck on. Would be great if Obama could have achieved something better. But not with idiots serving insurance lobbies using hysteria as a political tactic dominating the narrative.

  • Brian||

    But people can't make collective decisions for themselves--a vast array of modern public policy is forbidden in your world. Forbidden. As in, people are not free to make those choices. Are people to make the choice, democratically, to have national healthcare?

    What if we make the choice, democratically, to enslave another culture? Is this now validated by our democratic process?

  • Bruce Majors||

    Collectives don't exist and they certainly don't make decisions.

  • Jeffersonian||

    I suppose it's a matter whether you value doing what you want or voting for whom you want more.

  • ||

    *kersplunk*

    there goes another Projection-o-meter.

  • Bruce Majors||

    Tony thinks democracy is a real thing like in his junior high civics class. He thinks Obama reads his letters.

  • Realist||

    "The fact that some could say this with a straight face certainly speaks volumes."
    Spoken like a true lover of big government.

  • Rich||

    The country splitting into a control-freak, statist nation and a libertarian one.....

    Just a matter of time, Suthenboy.

  • ||

    I recommend the gulf coast states ( Florida to Texas) as the home of the Libertarians. The statists can have the rest.

    If you taste my roasted Gar steak with volute-mushroom sauce you will agree with me wholeheartedly.

  • Sparky||

    I dunno, that sounds like a pretty vile concoction.

  • ||

    I live on a bayou....my son and I catch garfish 5-7 feet long now and then....the enormous steaks have no fishy taste....they are like lean pork roast, you know, the other white meat....grilled with a liberal amount of onion and garlic then douced with a nice creamy mushroom sauce... they will bring tears to your eyes. The good kind of tears.

  • ||

    thanks. I didn't feel like putting together some breakfast yet, but now I have to.

    Jerk.

  • Almanian||

    Suthenboy, now I will forever hear you speak like "Swamp People" people....

    "...mumble mumble mumble GATOR mumble mumble mumble mumble GATOR mumble mumble mumble CRAWFISH mumble mumble GATOR mumble...les go donna Red Jacket get some ammo anna machine gone....mumble mumble....GATOR...."

    Which rules

  • ||

    Honestly Almanian...that probably isnt too far off the mark.

  • ||

    grilled with a liberal amount of onion and garlic then douced with a nice creamy mushroom sauce

    Alright, that typo could go one of two ways . . . .

  • Almanian||

    RC, that's not a typo...

  • Britt||

    I think he means doused, not douced.

  • ||

    Oooops.

  • Brandon||

    You think the socon fucks who make up the majority of those states have anything in common with libertarians? Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to the libertarians, with New Mexico given the option to join and Washington annexed to give us port access.

  • ||

    Good point, but five minutes with me as king and they would all pack up and leave. Voluntarily. What you are talking about is having fewer people relocate.

  • Realist||

    +3

  • ||

    *insert complaint about threaded comments here*

  • Realist||

    ^^^THis^^

  • ||

    *insert complaint about threaded comments here*

  • NotSure||

    The fact remains, the group that spent the most money ever on an election in history, is complaining about people spending too much money on elections. What am I missing here ???

  • ||

    Your tax dollars should pay for it or no one should be allowed to pay at all. Those are your options.

  • Rhino||

    ugh. so the government, once it gets your tax dollars, should decide who can spend money on campaigns? The govt should decide for you who you will support with your money?

  • Anti-IP||

    the thing that gets me about this is that they're saying, "thanks to Citizens United only Republicans will be elected for all eternity", but if they win elections because of their "grassroots, not corporate" SuperPACs, doesn't that just mean that Citizens United really isn't a bad decision? Not to mention the idiotic comments and emails I've seen from the pro-Obama people, acting like they're going to beat the Supreme Court or the GOP at their own game, as if there was no possibility that SCOTUS was doing what it thought was Constitutional.

  • CatoTheElder||

    That particular campaign got it money from reputable sources like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

  • ||

    *Gasp!* Outsiders will find out the location of the top-secret ruling class tree fort! How horrible! What a terrible infringement on the sacred right of incumbency!

    Bah. The game referred to as "elections" isn't going to change in any meaningful way. It's a trick now, and will remain so.

  • ||

    and the illusion that any of us peasants has control over our lives or property will continue.

  • Fluffy||

    There's also a subtle Stalinist undertone to the campaign finance debate. Especially when you include in that debate leftist outrage about so-called "astroturf".

    The left believes that "true people's institutions" will produce candidates organically if individuals are prevented from frustrating the people's will with their counterrevolutionary schemes.

    From this quasi-Stalinist perspective, elections that produce 100% incumbent returns, and elections with no credible opponent to the incumbent, are "more truly democratic" because they represent the "true" will of the people. If the people wanted another candidate, "small donors" and "participatory institutions" and "the real grass roots" would have produced one.

  • ||

    I agree with everything you say fluffy, except for the "subtle" part. There is nothing subtle about it. It is Stalinist thinking.

  • GILMORE||

    Photo caption =

    "I represent... the lollypop guild..."

  • Bruce Majors||

    Here are the peeps who take the other side, ironically holding a Save Cato! Rally

    http://s1140.photobucket.com/a.....er=noflash

  • rather||

    I love your mother's vote story

  • Bruce Majors||

    Thanks. It's true. I should see if I could dig up the newspaper clipping. She may have mailed it to me.

  • ||

    The libertarian King Charle's Head did not appear until the last sentence... well played. "derp derp derp THIRD PARTY yadda yadda.

  • ||

    "derp derp derp THIRD PARTY yadda yadda.

    you yadda-yadda'd past the good part.

  • MNG||

    When 80% or more of the "speech" in a campaign comes from a half of a dozen big spenders then yeah, people should be worried...

  • ||

    Why? That only matters if the source of the speech somehow reflects upon the content of it.

    As Fluffy points out above, there is something more subtly Stalinist about that. Why is speech coming from the grassroots necessarily better than that coming from a few individuals?

  • MNG||

    The source of speech acts as a shorthand for the honesty of the contents, yes. You're confused by the ad hominen argument which is applied to DEDUCTIVE logic John. There's more to critical thinking than that.

    There was a second part to that critical thinking textbook you had in college that some of us got to...

  • ||

    The source of speech acts as a shorthand for the honesty of the contents, yes.

    Even if this is true, how does it follow that:

    When 80% or more of the "speech" in a campaign comes from a half of a dozen big spenders then yeah, people should be worried

  • MNG||

    If it troubles people for a small number to have a disproportionate influence, then making that number smaller and that influence greater is going to be...more troubling.

    See?

  • ||

    In other words, if your premise is true, then your premise is true. Thank God you've got that critical thinking textbook handy.

  • ||

    No it doesn't MNG. You only think it does because ad homonym attacks are apparently part of your DNA. Someone having a vested interest in a subject doesn't mean they are lying.

  • MNG||

    Even in a court of law John if one has a conflict of interest their making related arguments is frowned upon. Why is that do you think?

  • ||

    No. You are confusing lawyers with witnesses. Every party has a conflict of interest when testifying. But so what? Sometimes the the truth is in your interest.

    By your logic, a man getting on the stand denying the charge of murder should automatically not be believed because he has a "conflict of interest".

  • MNG||

    Like SuperPacs lawyers make a case John, and they are frowned upon when they make it with clear conflicts.

    Why is that if we must separate the content of the case from the maker at all times?

  • anon||

    When 80% or more of the "speech" in a campaign comes from a half of a dozen big spenders then yeah, people should be worried...

    Nope. Only when the speech has to come from "approved" outlets will I be worried.

  • Sparky||

    You know what worries me? The fact that money now directly equates to political influence.

  • Almanian||

    Which is why The Donald is destined to be our next President.

    Oh, wait...

  • ||

    That has always been the case, Sparky. Always.

    Money and power will always find each other.

  • Almanian||

    It's like there's an "Iron Law" about that or something...:)

  • ||

    You have a very low opinion of the American public, don't you?

  • ||

    i have a low opinion of humans in general.

  • Socialistic Individual Sparky||

    +6.84 billion

  • MNG||

    People here would balk at the idea that a small group of people should have greater political influence if that influence were direct ("super-committees" deciding policy). You just are'nt as worried when the influence is not direct and at least theoretically capable of resistance, even if as an empirical matter the influence seems to have a fairly certain influence on actual results...

    Ironically you've set up a rent-seeker's dream.

  • ||

    A small group of people is always going to have "undue political influence". You are assuming that you can create equality of political influence. And that is impossible. The question is who do you want to have greater influence? Under the system of Super Pacs, anyone who is willing to spend the money has influence. Under the system you advocate, only political insiders capable of bundling lots of small donations have undue influence. Them and journalists. I fail to see how your system is an improvement.

  • Tony||

    Well, what's the Enlightenment ideal? Democratic marketplace of ideas; the good ones rise to the top; good leaders win by virtue of having the best ideas.

    Five billionaires playing checkers with politicians isn't exactly the Enlightenment ideal. It's kind of the modern day equivalent of what this country was founded to oppose.

    But who are you kidding, if it was Soros people were talking about you'd be frothing at the mouth.

  • MNG||

    "Five billionaires playing checkers with politicians isn't exactly the Enlightenment ideal."

    "But who are you kidding, if it was Soros people were talking about you'd be frothing at the mouth."

    +1

  • ||

    Perhaps you should examine our mystical ability to disagree with what Soros promotes, without actually calling for him to be banned from promoting it.

    Go ahead, find some posts where one of the house libertarians says the latter.

  • ||

    Find a post where I ever said Soros should have no right to spend his money on whatever speech he wants?

  • MNG||

    Likewise one can lament the role of SuperPacs without calling for bans on them.

    In fact, every GOP nominee has at one time or another lamented their rise.

  • ||

    I have no problem with Soros spending his money. I think most of what he produces is lies. But you and MNG use your little search functions and go find one place where I have ever questioned Soros' right to spend his money on speech. When can't do that, you both can go fuck yourselves and apologize for arguing with the voices in your heads rather than me.

    And neither one of you answer the point, which is that someone is always going to have undu influence. Why is journalists and political fundraisers and bundlers having that influence so much better? I would say it is much worse.

  • Tony||

    You've hit on an important point: the wealthy will always have undue influence on politics. So what does that tell you? Let them rule, and make it as easy as possible for them?

    It tells me not only do we need election laws to counter that influence (which you admit is undue), but also real economic policy pushback--If the wealthy will always have more influence over policy than they deserve as mere citizens in a democracy, how can it ever be possible that their taxes are too high, or their regulations too strict?

  • MNG||

    Don't tease these right wingers with their self-contradictory statements Tony, it's a bit mean.

  • ||

    The wealthy and the politically connected are not always an identity.

  • MNG||

    I'm sure this is a little more garbled than usual due to grammatical error, right? Slow down and retype in English.

  • ||

    The wealthy and the politically connected are not always an identity.

    I'm sure this is a little more garbled than usual due to grammatical error, right? Slow down and retype in English.

    no, MNG, you just don't understand the usage of "identity" in that context.

  • Tony||

    But the poor are always getting way more than they deserve from government, right?

  • Almanian||

    Right

  • Brian||

    Tony said
    But the poor are always getting way more than they deserve from government, right?
    No. In our case, money redistribution usually takes the form of taking income from working people and giving it to elderly, retired people who, as a demographic, have much more wealth than the relatively younger people from whom it is taken.

    But, hey, the elderly vote frequently, so they wield a lot of political influence.

    Do you suggest we outlaw the AARP?

  • ||

    You do realize that ALL of the political class are the very wealthy right? Not just the TEAM RED, or even the TEAM BLUE, but TEAM GREEN and TEAM WHATEVER COLOR LIBERTARIANS WOULD BE.

    Oh, and if money buys elections why isn't Meg Whitman in office?

  • Tony||

    Individual wealthy people are less of an issue than wealthy interests. Everyone has the right to petition and influence government--but why should a large corporation get more of a say than average citizens?

  • ||

    I think we both agree that they shouldn't. Where we disagree is you think there needs to be laws and oversight and I think there needs to be less government power to influence in the first place.

  • Almanian||

    they don't

  • Brian||

    Tony said Everyone has the right to petition and influence government--but why should a large corporation get more of a say than average citizens?

    But, it is precisely the perceived influence that the wealthy and corporations have, that people like you endorse strict regulations on all industries, forced redistribution of wealth, and progressive taxes. Why, then, would you attempt to remove the power of these corporations? If, in fact, the health of those corporations is dependent on their vast wealth and influence, and since your glorious state and all its taxes and redistribution schemes, why would you then dismantle its ability to make money? Would that not thrust your economy into a death spiral?

  • Tony||

    No I wouldn't thrust an economy into a death spiral.

    Regulations and taxes should exist for practical purposes. Government should be free to make policies for practical purposes rather than to appease donors and wealthy interest lobbyists. These seem like uncontroversial ideals. We'll never get to them, but we can push in the right direction. Libertarians are the advocates of maximum private influence over government--that's what you must mean by a small government. Power doesn't evaporate, it transfers.

  • Tony||

    Maximum wealthy private interests' influence over government.*

  • Brian||

    Tony said
    If the wealthy will always have more influence over policy than they deserve as mere citizens in a democracy, how can it ever be possible that their taxes are too high, or their regulations too strict?

    When you inadvertently ruin industries and give more power to the government to squander in their own political self-interest while maintaining the status quo (i.e., the initial conditions that led to their political power in the first place). Do you really expect those people to change the status quo in a satisfactory way for most/all people? More than free people change their own status through the use of their own income towards their own individual goals? That takes a lot of faith, and there's little evidence to support it historically.

  • Bruce Majors||

    Internet trolls with jobs at the DMV where they can play on line all the time also may have more influence than most people. Or think they do. And people with money may not be able to convince people who don't find them persuasive, just like trolls.

  • Rhino||

    here's a suggestion. limit the power of govt so that the wealthy do not benefit from undue influence. Bastiat talked about 3 forms of government legalized plunder. Rich plunder the Poor. Poor plunder the rich, everyone plunders everyone. The best government would be one that does not involve anyone plundering anyone.

  • ||

    predicted response from MNG:

    "get back to your tractor pull you ignorant redneck, I don't have time to backup my assertions as my modern art collection needs to be rearranged."

  • MNG||

    First logic and now basic math. Because the number is far fewer, duh.

    If it is bad for a small group to have disproportionate influence then an even smaller number with even more influence is worse.

  • Britt||

    So like what if there were 535 people with vast power to impose their will on 300 million individuals.

    That would be bad right?

  • Concerned Citizen||

    If only the 1st, 2nd, and 10th Amendments were still in effect.

  • ||

    almost subtle enough to get him. an admirable try though.

  • ||

    "almost subtle enough to get him. an admirable try though." @ Britt @ 12:41pm

  • ||

    Excellent point - Soros never spends his money on politics, after all, and you see all those libertarians lobbying congress to take away his 1st Amendment rights....

  • ||

    People here would balk at the idea that a small group of people should have greater political influence if that influence were direct

    What the house libertarians object to isn't what we can't change (that the wealthy will have disproportionate influence on government) nearly so much as the fact that their influence matters a lot more when the government is large and powerful.

  • ||

    Lest you forget that 535 people that regularly get re-elected to congress ARE that small group of people.

    The rent-seeker's dream has existed for nigh on 100 years.

  • The Fabric of Our Society||

    Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) says the "undue influence" of these so-called super PACs ... "strikes at the heart of our democracy."

    What am I, chopped liver?

  • anon||

    Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) says...

    I've met this guy. He might be the largest sack of shit ever.

  • ||

    Considering who the other candidates are, that is really saying alot.

  • Almanian||

    "Take away the super PACs, and Santorum would have probably had to drop out after Iowa. Gingrich might have had to drop out after South Carolina."

    So he's saying taking away TEH EVUL SOOPER PACS™ would be a good thing.....

  • Jerryskids||

    Individual money is nothing compared to corporate money. Corporations should not be allowed to spend money to influence the political process and we need a law passed to overturn the Citizens United decision which allowed corporations to influence the political process.

    Or so I heard from New York Times, Incorporated, Cox Communications, Incorporated, Gannett Company, Incorporated, The Huffington Post, Incorporated, et al.

  • Socialistic Individual Sparky||

    Corporations Nobody should not be allowed to spend money to influence the political process.

    FTFY

  • Socialistic Individual Sparky||

    Corporations Nobody should not be allowed to spend money to influence the political process.

    FTFM

  • rst||

    Congress included? Because that's one hell of a budget...

  • Loki||

    voters who once distinguished between Congress and its members are starting to realize the institution they hate is composed of the people they keep re-electing

    You mean people are finally starting to realize that bitching about Congress and then continually re-electing the same schmucks to office isn't doing shit to solve the problems they continue to bitch about?

    the Campaign for Primary Accountability is making politicians "nervous" and "increasing Congress's sense of insecurity."

    The horror! Won't someone please think of those poor insecure congress creeps?

  • CatoTheElder||

    Why is it assumed that the opponents of Super PACs really want democracy?

  • Realist||

    "Why Super PACs Are Good for Democracy"
    What is Democracy good for?

  • rst||

    I do wonder offhand where the opponents of corporate personhood were when the Supreme Court was using it to protect the NAACP against Alabama.

  • Realist||

    The big pissing match above is one example of why Democracy doesn't work.

  • rst||

    I believe Democracy works, so long as you keep it within firing distance.

  • Bruce Majors||

    Yes then allowing your life to be decided by dropping marbles in a bowl with people like Tony would be acceptable. And lead to improved public health and eugenics.

  • Tony||

    Can you just this once explain your preferred alternative?

  • Concerned Citizen||

    How about a Constitutional Republic, with gov't power limited to it's enumerated powers, and the rest to be handled by the States, or the people? Where gold and silver coin are legal tender in payment of debts, no direct taxes, and no slavery. Shit, that would never work, no one would travel across the oceans to live in such a country.

  • ||

    just too crazy of a recipe to ever be one of the most successful and most powerful nations ever.

  • Tony||

    So a form of democracy, just one where a specific set of public policies are required, even against the people's will, even though they are occasionally batshit crazy like shiny metal standards and no direct taxes.

    You want those policies, get them with the methods of democracy. Convince majorities to buy it. I wish you bad luck.

  • Bruce Majors||

    Our government isn't the product of popular will and democratic votes. It's the product of special interest groups that live off government and therefore can devote their lives to lobbying it, funding candidates, and working for it, unlike normal people who have lives and so become tax serfs preyed on by the predator class.

  • Tony||

    Yeah, thanks to a specific set of policies enacted in a specific timeframe. Almost all of which libertarians are the most enthusiastic spokesmen for.

  • ||

    I know there's a 900 character limit, but you couldn't squeeze in even one example to back up this bullshit assertion? Well I'll be damned...

  • Bruce Majors||

    Libertarians created the modern day slave trade that funds your Democratic candidates Tony, where you round poor black and brown kids and sell them to the educrat cartels, who lobby and donate to support a failed "school" system no voters voted for and no one else wants?

  • Gadianton||

    Campaign finance reform made simple:

    No limits on individual donations. Candidates must keep an updated list of donors on their website, and available on demand.

    If Scrooge McDuck or Big Box, Inc. is supporting a candidate I like, I want to know about it. Then I can decide if I want to vote for a guy who'd take their money.

  • ||

    The solution is obvious: all lobbying and campaign finance should be subsidized by the government. Failing to provide me with commercial advertising space is clearly a denial of my access to my representatives - just as failing to provide me with contraceptives is a denial of my access to birth control. When will we EVER get speech and reproductive equality?

  • ||

    I consider myself a libertarian, but I believe this is an area calling for regulation, but NOT of individuals.
    No candidate for the Presidency or either house of Congress shall accept contributions in cash or in kind from any organization or group of persons for expenses incurred in a campaign for that office. All such contributions shall be made only by individual citizens who shall attest that the funds or other items of value are from their own resources and that they have not received, nor have they been promised, offsetting items of value from any other party in exchange for their contribution. Organizations of any type, may, without restriction, expend money to advocate a position on any issue before or likely to come before the electorate insofar as no candidate’s name or description is included in their expressions of advocacy.

  • Rhino||

    really surprised to see the number of people advocating a govt monopoly of the distribution of campaign finances.

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