Campaigns/Elections

Leading Campaign Finance Reformer: 'I Think the Constitution Is Wrong'

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During a debate yesterday, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) had this to say about Citizens United v. FEC and other Supreme Court decisions overturning restrictions on political speech (emphasis added):

No one has fought harder for campaign finance reform in the United States Congress [than] me. I've come put for public financing of campaigns. I've come out for restrictions on campaigns. But here's the problem: We have a lousy Supreme Court decision that has opened up the floodgates, and so we have to deal within the realm of constitutionality. And a lot of the campaign finance bills that we have passed have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. I think the Constitution is wrong. I don't think that money is the same thing as human beings. I don't think money equals free speech. I don't think corporations should have the same equality as a regular voter in this district.

McGovern probably meant to say, "I think the Supreme Court is wrong" (just as he probably meant to deny that a corporation, as opposed to money, "is the same thing as human beings"). It is a revealing slip in any case. McGovern clearly is frustrated by having to "deal within the realm of constitutionality." Too bad. That's what the Constitution is for: to frustrate politicians who are so focused on the virtue of their goal that they cannot see the rights they are violating by pursuing it.

I'll have more on that subject in the December issue of Reason. In the meantime, is McGovern right that Citizens United "opened up the floodgates"? The evidence to support that view is thin. But it is telling that critics of Citizens United from the president on down insist on comparing a less restricted political debate to a deadly, disastrous deluge.

NEXT: Bring the Pain

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  1. Poor baby. Does the Constitution restrict his ability to impose his will on us?

    1. Yes. Yes it does.

      1. well, actually…..it should, and it might still, but based on what’s been going on in DC for decades, and in particular that McGovern has been on the winning side of things during most of that time, I’d say:
        No, it does not!
        I speak as someone who lives in his district — for now —

        1. Semi-off-topic threadjack: How’s this for campaigning? Go to Call.BarackObama.com. You’ll get a page with the name of some nearby voter (including their age, gender, party ID, city, and phone number), plus an Organizing for America script of a poll (partly a push-poll) to read to them, and a form to report back on the response.

          Privacy advocates and paranoids: on your mark, get set, go!

          1. I have my whistle ready.

      2. No. It really doesn’t.

  2. “McGovern probably meant to say…”

    Jacob, you are at risk of being mistaken for Robert Gibbs.

    1. McGovern probably meant to say, “I think the Supreme Court is wrong”

      I’m willing to take his words as reflecting his belief that the Constitution is wrong. If he thought the Constitution was right, he’d fucking be following it, not violating it (and his oath of office) over and over.

  3. To McGovern:

    FUCK YOU!

    Sincerely

    The Constitution

    PS: What about your oath to preserve, protect and defend, bitch? Yeah, swore it on your TP version of me, didn’t you.

  4. At least he’s being honest about it instead of shouting out “living document,” “rational basis test,” “interstate commerce,” “general welfare,” etc.

    1. I forgot “for the children,” too.

    2. I’d also have to agree with him. The constitution is freaking wrong. It’s a poorly designed government with ill defined powers and restrictions and tons of loopholes.

      1. +1. It was a series of mediocre compromises, with too much language that can be arguably interpreted too easily to allow government to do whatever they want. I still think it’s infinitely better than what our modern politicians would come up with if they could start from scratch though.

  5. Hey, he’s just being consistent. The Constitution isn’t people.

    But Soylent Green is.

    1. That’s a great idea for a movie. At the end, someone just like Charlton Heston discovers that the dinner he just ate was made of roasted copies of the original Constitution and Bill of Rights.

      1. A libertarian horror movie; a light family comedy for statists.

      2. “Soylent Green is restrictions on the Federal government!!!”

        Ah, it just doesn’t flow as well as “Soylent Green is people!”

        Bender: Say, buddy. Why is this grand cigar so pricey?

        Clerk: Well, as you can see, the wrapper is a piece of the original U.S. Constitution. It was hand rolled by Queen Elizabeth during her wild years, and was buried with George Burns until graverobbing space mushrooms…well, you know the rest.

        Bender: I’ll give you 300 bucks for it.

        Clerk: No can do.

        Bender: Oh, all right. I’ll just take these $300 burglar’s tools then.

        Clerk: Very well, sir.

        Bender: So, uh, what time do you close tonight?

        1. Soylent Green is free-dom!

      3. Rights.

        It’s whats for dinner.

      4. It would give new meaning to the phrase “pass an amendment”.

  6. The Constitution is wrong, and it should thank me for pointing that out.

    I’m waiting, Constitution……Talk slowly, I command it.

  7. Christ, what an asshole.

    1. Interesting how punctuation can change the entire meaning of a scant few words.

      For example:

      Christ, what an asshole.

      versus

      Christ: what an asshole.

  8. really topics of interest…

    thanks a lot for the information…

    i was very helpfull…

  9. He’s just saying what all Liberals think. To them, the Commerce Clause is the only part of the Constitution and it actually says “the government can do whatever the fuck it pleases (unless of course non-Liberals happen to get into power).”

    1. “He’s just saying what all Liberals think.”

      Jordan, Mass Mind-Reader.

      1. Really, has any liberal judge ever struck down a law on the sole basis that the law was not one of the enumerated powers of Congress?

        1. How about Brandeis in Erie v. Tompkins?

          1. In 1938. Thanks, I feel much better now.

  10. I’m not sure he misspoke here at all. Many democrats are openly hostile to the constitution all them time, stating that it’s a “200 year old document written by dead old white landowners before there was such a thing as the internet or federally funded abortions” (Technically this is true, but the fact remains that this is the document we have founded our entire system of government upon).

    What’s complete disingenuous bullshit is that a.)Foreign contributions are hardly partisan-Soros, MoveOn, even Obama’s presidential campaign are rife with foreign contributions, and b.)McGovern woudn’t be saying BOO about this if it wasn’t for the fact that Dems are about to get destroyed.

    1. “200 year old document written by dead old white landowners before there was such a thing as the internet or federally funded abortions”

      You forgot to mention that some of the old white landowners also owned slaves, thus anything they thought, said, or did was and still is completely, unequivocally wrong. Obviously, since being associated with slavery in any way means you are automatically wrong on every thing, this means that whatever is the opposite of the founders’ philosophy is therefore more just. Namely, everyone under the bootheel of everyone else to ensure that everyone is miserable (except our lauded public leaders who shake hands with corporate donors they pretend to hate to drum up public support of course).

  11. I don’t think he meant to say Supreme Court at all. I don’t worship the Constitution – it clearly was not a perfect document when conceived and required Amendments. At least this guy, recognizing that SCOTUS has the power to determine constitutionality, wants to go about making changes the properly legal and moral way – through the amendments process. The sentence preceeding the highlighted one (“we have to deal within the realm of constitutionality”) shows that he at least respects the Constitution, even if he thinks it’s wrong.

    1. Yeah, at least this guy kinda has a set of nads on him big enough to admit that the Constitution does impose limits. A lot of other pols just pretend the Constitution is magically endowed with powers that let them do whatever the fuck they want. I’d much rather have more pols frame opinions in terms of “I don’t like this about the Constitution”

      The Constitution is just words on a piece of paper, damn good words, but words nonetheless. I only revere it insofar that it works. Like right now, I’m not particularly found of the unlimited borrowing authority it gives to the fed gov.

      1. Your last sentence really hits home with me…and most Americans for that matter.

        It makes me wonder why a real grassroots push for a Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment never got much steam as the Tea Party movement took off this year. If it was ever gonna be easy to get it through, this was the perfect storm.

        1. You ought to go back and look over the mechanisms by which amendments get adopted, and think about the composition of our legislature.

          1. exactly correct, Yonemoto. A minor miracle and a countless blessing that we have gone this long without the ratification of a new amendment. What is forgotten is that any language can be slipped into an amendment once a constitutional convention is started. Given the goons in charge, you can count on it being anti-freedom.

    2. The sentence preceeding the highlighted one (“we have to deal within the realm of constitutionality”) shows that he at least respects the Constitution, even if he thinks it’s wrong.

      I took him to mean that he is begrudgingly in the realm of constitutionality, a realm he purposely does not visit often. It’s telling that the “realm of constitutionality” clause is introduced with “and so”.

    3. He didn’t say anything about changing the constitution through the amendment process, so I have no idea where you’re getting that interpretation. Indeed, he blames the SCOTUS for making a terrible decision, indicating he doesn’t think the Constitution in its current form should prevent campaign finance laws.

      The most likely explanation in my mind is that he was reciting poorly memorized words that his handlers told him to say.

      1. as I watched the debate, I kept visualizing Pelosi’s hand up his butt, making his lips move…….
        *retch*

        1. Well that’s far better than her lips up his butt making his hand move.

  12. Taxation without representation is tyranny. End corporate taxation and I’m guessing, in trade, corporate interests would give up the right to spend in attempt to influence who will be elected to represent them.

    1. Problem here is the same as the libs have:
      Corporations aren’t “taxed”; they’re required to provide the accounting department to collect the taxes from the taxpayers and deliver it to the gov’t.
      Similarly, “corporations” say and pay for nothing; the people who work for an own them do.

  13. I don’t have a problem with someone saying they think the Constitution is wrong about this or that. As long as they don’t feel they can ignore it.

    Having said that, my guess is that McGovern’s problem, if he could state it coherently, wouldn’t actually be with anything in the Constitution, but with certain court decisions interpreting the Constitution in regards to corporations.

    I get people’s concerns about disclosure, but all the complaining about Citizens United has helped me clarify my own views: I now think privacy is more important than disclosure, regardless of how big, and supposedly powerful, the donor is.

    I’m still open to the idea that foreign donations to political campaigns shouldn’t be allowed.

  14. If there’s any legitimate distinction to be made here, it’s between regular people and the government…

    Regular people have a right to pool their investment dollars and resources and advocate for anything they want–but I’m not sure the same thing can be said about politicians.

    I doubt any such law could ever pass, but I suspect a nice chunk of the American people might support a law that would make politicians like Jim McGovern STFU for a couple of months.

    Stop people from talking about politicians? Hell no! Stop politicians from running their mouths? Where do I sign up?

    I’m not sure such a ban would pass the muster either, but I think it would have more of a leg to stand on than trying to ban the right of people to assemble and say what they think…

    I mean, the First Amendment is a restriction on what the government can do to the people–I’m not sure it speaks directly to anything the people want to do to politicians…

    And if politicians just STFU, wouldn’t that be freakin’ awesome? In Libertopia, the politicians have the right to say whatever they want, people just mostly ignore them. Short of that, somebody should introduce local legislation preventing politicians like Jim McGovern from opening their stupid mouths.

    I’m not sure I’d support it, but it might serve them right. We tried ignoring them–that didn’t work. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t care what my politicians say about anything. If they never said another word, that would be fine by me.

    1. I doubt any such law could ever pass, but I suspect a nice chunk of the American people might support a law that would make politicians like Jim McGovern STFU for a couple of months.

      I want a law that bans robocallers from political campaigns. If I can put telemarketers on a “do not call” list, why can’t I do the same with the fucking politicians?

      1. It just plays so much better…

        If you want me onboard for banning “political” speech, then let’s start by banning what the politicians say!

        I am 100 times more interested in hearing what Sullum, any one of a dozen people in this thread, and the heads of any Fortune 500 company have to say about McGovern than I am interested in anything McGovern has to say.

        In fact, I don’t really give a crap about what McGovern has to say–I’m only interested in what other people and corporations say about him.

        So, if we’re gonna ban anybody’s speech–not that we should–I say we start with banning McGovern from speaking.

        I don’t condone banning political speech, regardless of the costs or benefits, but the world might be a better place if McGovern and others like him just STFU.

  15. democrats are openly hostile to the constitution all them time

    It’s “all dem time.” Racist.

    End corporate taxation and I’m guessing, in trade, corporate interests would give up the right to spend in attempt to influence who will be elected to represent them.

    So, in exchange for something they they don’t want to happen, they’d do something they don’t want to do? Take me to their women.

    “Corporate interests,” with the possible (and, at best, partial) exception of the Kochtopus, are activist, not reactionary. Every law governing their activities, tax law included, exists because they bought it.

    No “interest” is more anti-free-market and pro-state than Business (as we know it)?not even the state itself.

  16. What’s worse? Some foreign money leaking into bosh major parties and their supporters? Or is it the First Lady openly electioneering inside as polling place today in Chicago?

    Oh, and the banner ad at the top of this story was from the DSCC bitching about Repubs getting foreign money to buy this election. Irony!!!!

  17. We shouldn’t allow foreign money to slip into out elections, and corporations shouldn’t have constitutional rights like they’re people.

    So, when do we shut down the New York Times Company, financed by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim?

  18. Sorry to be a pain folks, but before you get all crazy about a socialist, woops I mean Democrat, having a freudian slip about his true feelings about the Constitution, recall that Bush the younger wasn’t exactly a friend of a clear text, original meaning reading either.

    Aside from his slip, and assuming he “meant to say” that SCOTUS is sometimes wrong, well, just think Dred Scott or Kelo, and even a libertarian might have to agree with him. But then, as they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    Just sayin…..

    1. He’s saying the First Amendment is wrong, not the unconstitutional Kelo decision.

    2. You know that we’re not fans of Bush the Younger around here, don’t you?

      1. Or the Older, either, for that matter.

  19. “Having said that, my guess is that McGovern’s problem, if he could state it coherently, wouldn’t actually be with anything in the Constitution, but with certain court decisions interpreting the Constitution in regards to corporations.”

    Well shit, there is at least one fair minded opinion on this thread…This seems to be most likely what the guy was getting at.

    1. And the fair-minded interpretation is that this politician believes the New York Times’ right to endorse candidates exists on the sufferance of politicians, given that it’s an electioneering communication paid for by corporate money.

      1. Interesting point. If the 1st was to protect any corporate speech then isn’t the language about freedom of the press redundant?

        1. That is a good point.

          And the larger one is, whatever the text of the 1st may require with regard to corporate electioneering, it is highly doubtful that the founders would have approved of such a perversion of democracy based on the principles behind the 1st.

          1. What about union electioneering, Tony?

            1. Chirp, Chirp

        2. Most press is not corporate-owned.

        3. “Freedom of the press” is about being able to use an actual printing press i.e. mass media, to distribute your viewpoint. It is not about giving a particular profession called “the press” more rights than everybody else. The New York Times does not have greater license because it runs a newspaper.

      2. Actually, you gotta make the distinction that groups like American Crossroads and the Chamber of Commerce (and groups like MoveOn.org, by the way) are non-profit corporations.

        A lot of progressives (including, McGovern, I’m sure) get confused about this subtlety of their own talking point. They start going off about how evil corporations shouldn’t have personhood, when they normally don’t classify non-profits as being in that “evil corporation” category.

        The correct liberal talking point is supposed to be that non-profit political expression corporations are just fine as long as they disclose their donors. In other words, their supposed to emphasize the disclosure part, not the anti-corporate part.

    2. Of course that’s what he was trying to say – specifically that he disagrees with the SCOTUS ruling in Citizens United — and I disagree with him. He’s actually a nice, well-meaning man, whose positions/votes I frequently disagree with.

    3. I’d say that what he actually said was most likely what actually thinks — now, whether he intended to be so candid is debateable. Got his talking points mixed up with his real thoughts.

      But, he’s gonna win in a landslide, maybe 70% to high 20s according to FiveThirtyEight, so all he has to do to get reelected is not get caught on camera fucking sheep before election day.

      1. There is no evidence he hasn’t been fucking sheep off camera, though.

      2. “I’d say that what he actually said was most likely what actually thinks ”

        Er, yeah, so what you are saying is that he thinks Citizens United was correctly decided. Yeah, whatever prole.

  20. I think foriegn money in our campaigns can be serious in that our national security and interests could be subverted. However, I’d like to see this problem addressed through some sort of disclosure measure before any more restrictive measures are adopted.

    I think bans on ads and such (or creating “windows” when they can and can’t be shown) are prior restraints inconsistent with the 1st Amendment. However, I think Buckley was wrongly decided and the amount someone can spend to influence elections should be restricted. Writing checks is very indirectly speech, indirectly enough to get somewhat outweighed by the serious interest in promoting governmental integrity.

    1. I think foriegn money in our campaigns can be serious in that our national security and interests could be subverted.

      That’s quite a stretch. And disclosure rules would subvert [have subverted] our ability to support candidates without fearing repercussions from employers and clients.

      So we have a vague and dubious concern about furriners decaying us from within by running attack ads, versus clear and obvious concern about squelching speech.

      1. My goodness, is the libertarian going to invoke non-force “repercussions from employers and clients” (i.e., deciding not to do business with someone)?

        1. I suppose you’d have no problem with a law requiring the publication of names and addresses of abortion recipients, then.

          1. Trying to change public policy is a bit different than deciding to have a medical procedure, so different I might think different rules apply.

            1. Perhaps, but how do you justify the particular difference you’re pushing?

              (and no one ever died because of a political TV commercial)

              1. That there is a public interest in knowing who is trying to influence public policy but not in who gets a medical procedure?

                1. So, I’ve been thinking about that. Why is it so important to know who is trying to influence public policy?

                  You know what policy or candidate or ballot initiative the ad is promoting. These things can be judged on its own merits.

                  I’ve seen so many people skip using that kind of judgement, and, instead, use the lazier method of deciding whether they are for or against something by looking at who is promoting the idea instead of the idea itself.

                2. Abortion can be used to cover up the rape or incest of a minor, so there is a public interest there.

                  What’s your public interest, beyond your party’s sudden embrace of xenophobia?

                  1. That’s just goofy. Even given the interest you mention why would that be an interest in the public knowing where the patient resides? At most you might have an argument for “the authorities” knowing that kind of thing.

                    On the other hand, since the entire public is to weight proposed public policy there is an interest in the entire public knowing who is pushing what (largely because this allows the public to better weigh if proposed policy might be self-serving to some supporter rather than truly in the public interest, in other words it helps identify rent-seeking [this is my answer to Mike Laursen above]).

                    1. But you can tell just by reading the language of a ballot initiative who is likely doing the rent seeking. You can even think about who is likely to do rent seeking that hasn’t even thought of doing it yet.

                    2. Would agree with you what I’m saying is goofy, if there were no privacy concern. The need to guard against retaliation from whoever holds government power, especially in today’s rule-of-man not rule-of-law atmosphere, is more important than the marginally useful info of knowing who’s backing what.

                3. Given the Liberal definition of the Commerce Clause, I’m pretty sure we could justify a law requiring disclosure of all abortions.

        2. Pretty sure his problem was with the disclosure laws (which ARE forced), and not with the people that might choose not to do business with you based on what’s being disclosed.

          1. You don’t get to try yell privacy as you try to change public policy.

            1. Yeah, stupid “Publius”. TELL US YOUR NAME!

            2. So you’d be OK with requiring anyone who ever makes a political statement to anyone using any medium to register with the state before doing so, under penalty of law?

            3. Also, the most direct way to change public policy is by voting. So you oppose the secret ballot? (in political elections, that is — we already know you oppose it in labor battles)

              1. There is not the same concern with voting that there is giving money, that is, people each have one vote but different amounts of money to give. Therefore I don’t think the public interest in voting disclosure is as important as in campaign donations/electioneering.

                1. Why is the amount the person contributed important. Would you be for protecting small donor’s privacy? Where would you draw the line between a small donor and large donor? Can’t big donors, no matter how big they are, be harassed by, say, the current state or Presidential Administration.

                  1. Who supports what and how much they put towards that helps identify potential rent-seeking to the public.

                    1. That’s an extremely weak reason to restrict political speech. I note you still haven’t answered whether you think everyone who makes political statements on the street or takes part in a protest can be forced to register with the government.

              2. There would be the one advantage that it would take care of that nasty voter fraud issue. Your vote would be right there for everyone to see and recount.

                1. You wouldn’t get much more protection than you do now by simply requiring the person to vote in one place, requiring id, and then noting they voted or not. Knowing who they voted for adds little or nothing to the determination of whether they voted too much or improperly.

                  On the other hand, the identity and amount of support for proposed public policy changes can be important for identifying potential rent-seeking, and for that information to be useful it must be available to the public.

                  1. Rent-seeking can easily be identified by a politician’s behavior in office.

            4. “You don’t get to try yell privacy as you try to change public policy.”

              Why not? Does your anonymity or lack thereof alter the content of policy prescription?

            5. “You don’t get to try yell privacy as you try to change public policy.”

              Why not? Does your anonymity or lack thereof alter the content of policy prescription?

            6. So you support the new Australian law requiring your name and postal code whenever you make a comment online about political issues?

  21. As to corporate money, the solution is easy. Congress just passes a law requiring a publicized 2/3 vote of shareholders to spend money for political purposes and justifies it as a shareholder protection measure and defends it under the Commerce Clause (or they could do it indirectly by requiring states make this change in corporate law or witholding some federal funds under the Spending Power). Corporations would still be able to speak all they want as long as they had their holders permission and were willing to stand by their spending to the public.

    1. Would you suggest similar restraints on union political spending? What about political spending by other types of organizations?
      I’m not trying to be cute here, I’m truly curious…..

      1. Sure, you can apply it to unions and call it a member protection thing. In fact conservatives have talked about the evils of forcing union members to pay for election speech of the union for a long time. Same should apply for shareholders.

    2. Do you have your bosses’ permission to post this political advocacy?

    3. So, a 2/3 majority must agree to run a TV commercial, but 51% is sufficient to turn our health care system upside down and require everyone to buy health insurance for the privilege of being alive.

      defends it under the Commerce Clause (or they could do it indirectly by requiring states make this change in corporate law or witholding some federal funds under the Spending Power)

      Both avenues are incompatible with the Constitution, of course. Not that we should be surprised coming from you, KFC.

      1. and require everyone to buy health insurance for the privilege of being alive.

        In other words – your money or your life. Hmm, where have I heard that before?

    4. Why? None of that is necessary.

      If you don’t like the political positions a corporation supports, don’t buy stock in it or sell what you own.

      Simple as that.

      1. If you don’t like the political position that a union takes, don’t join or, in a union shop state, work in that field. Do you agree with that?

        Turn this around, why shouldn’t a corporation have the consent of the shareholder before they spend the holders money? What is the harm of making it truly voluntary, of empowering the shareholders in this way?

        1. If they need the consent of the shareholders, why are you limiting it to 2/3rds? Do the other 1/3rd not matter to you?

          1. Well, we have to weigh protection of the shareholder with the adverse effect of possibly paralyzing the corporation.

            Heck, we don’t even have to have a 2/3 vote, we could really just say there must be a public notification of all shareholders before such an expenditure is made. That way holders can decide to withdraw their stocks or such.

            1. Yes, that would in no way encumber the freedom to provide commentary on relevant and new political discussions.

              Corporations already disclose their political activities in their financial statements, and a monkey with a computer could find out that information.

              1. Corporations are often required to notify holders before certain decisions are made. Why the reluctance here? Why not make their actions more transparent to the people who are, after all, the owners of the company rather than less? What’s your motive here?

            2. MNG|10.14.10 @ 9:08PM|#
              “Well, we have to weigh protection of the shareholder with the adverse effect of possibly paralyzing the corporation.”

              “We?” Got something stinky in your pocket?
              How about “we” let stockholders decide by the simple process of either buying stock or not?

              1. I specifically addressed this in the very post you responded to Ronnie. Try to keep up!

                1. MNG|10.14.10 @ 10:13PM|#
                  “I specifically addressed this in the very post you responded to Ronnie.”

                  It’s always enlightening to see a brain-dead ignoramus asshole offering an infantile diminutive rather than facts or an argument.
                  Right, brain-dead ignoramus MNGie asshole?

                2. MNG|10.14.10 @ 10:13PM|#
                  “I specifically addressed this in the very post you responded to Ronnie. Try to keep up!”
                  BTW, MNGie, you did nothing of the sort

                  1. What’s hilarious is that in your post immediately above you engage in EXACTLY what you accuse me of, as you demonstrate by coming back and “BTW” making your point! Ronnie, you are always good for a laugh.

                    Oh, and “btw” here is where I answered your question-before you asked it: “That way holders can decide to withdraw their stocks or such.”

        2. “If you don’t like the political position that a union takes, don’t join or, in a union shop state, work in that field. Do you agree with that?”

          Absolutely I do. Put your fucking money where your mouth is or stop whining.

          “Turn this around, why shouldn’t a corporation have the consent of the shareholder before they spend the holders money? What is the harm of making it truly voluntary, of empowering the shareholders in this way?”

          Uh, shareholders don’t need any government “empowerment”. They vote for the executives. You want that clause, get support and put it in the by-laws.

          Absolutely no reason to involve the military, I mean, the government.

          1. But if management does not share information with the shareholders then they have their control weakened. The management of corporations is divorced from ownership, you know?

            It’s amazing how ignorant some libertarians who claim to be so pro-corporation are of how corporations work…

    5. “Congress just passes a law requiring a publicized 2/3 vote of shareholders to spend money for political purposes and justifies it as a shareholder protection measure and defends it under the Commerce Clause (or they could do it indirectly by requiring states make this change in corporate law or witholding some federal funds under the Spending Power).”

      Again, there’s this weird idea I keep seeing pop up in various places, that corporations are somehow less democratic than democracy…

      Despite all evidence to the contrary.

      Why should corporate decisions about the use of their funds be subject to the force of government?

      Why should should politicians who have no connection to most shareholders have any power over shareholders?

      Why?

      Really, any shareholder out there who doesn’t like management’s campaign contributions can feel free to bring it up at the next shareholders meeting.

      There are very few institutions in this country more democratic than your standard issue corporation–and I don’t know of any shareholder groups who are urging the government to step in and protect them from management’s campaign contributions…

      Anywhere.

      You make it pretty clear that you’re just interested in silencing the corporations–that’s a solution in search of a problem in other words.

      Can’t wait ’til November.

      1. “Why should corporate decisions about the use of their funds be subject to the force of government?

        Because the unique characteristics of the corporate form (perpetual existence, limited liability, management divorced from ownership, etc.) may not be compatible with promotion of the public good? Heck, corporations are strange Frankenstein monsters created by governments as wealth making entities (that’s not a bad thing btw), they are government made entities. For a long time they had the permission to only do very specific things the charter the legislature granted allowed for…

        “Why should should politicians who have no connection to most shareholders have any power over shareholders?”

        Why should they not enact measures to empower and protect shareholders? That’s what I’m advocating.

        “Really, any shareholder out there who doesn’t like management’s campaign contributions can feel free to bring it up at the next shareholders meeting.”

        So why be opposed to any measure that would better inform them of such use of their money?

        “Why?”

        1. “Because the unique characteristics of the corporate form (perpetual existence, limited liability, management divorced from ownership, etc.) may not be compatible with promotion of the public good?”

          Because the biggest problem in our democracy is corporations who spend too much of the taxpayer’s future earnings?

          That’s laughable.

          Do you have any idea how much I’d have to forget to even find what you’re saying interesting?

          1. You want to argue about who’s got the interest of the public at heart–the government and the government employees unions or McDonalds and Wal*Mart–the corporations still win hands down!

            But noooOOOOOOOOooooooooo…

            You’re actually trying to argue that the government has good will of corporate shareholders at heart–more so than corporate management?!

            That’s so ridiculous, you should go see a doctor.

            1. What’s truly laughable is the idea that corporate management has the public interest at heart. The rightful interest of the management of corporations is maximization of shareholder value, it is their legal duty.

              It’s not exactly a strange, novel idea though that such a myopic viewpoint might not be a valued one from a civics perspective.

              1. “What’s truly laughable is the idea that corporate management has the public interest at heart.”

                Wal*Mart’s done more for lower income people than any federal program can.

                And responsive to their customers? Compared to the federal government?! Wal*Mart hires some of the sharpest minds this world has to offer and keeps them up late every night trying to think up new and better ways to serve the interests of their customers.

                You seem to have painted yourself into a corner, and I feel for you, but I can’t quite reach you. Arguing that the federal government is more responsive than retail corporations are to their customers is a sorry, sad argument to try to justify…

                Really, I feel for you, but you’ve been steeped in something that’s coloring your whole outlook–so bad that you’re leaving common sense behind. It’s a little like talkin’ to an Objectivist or a Moonie–if you can’t even smell common sense after you’ve had your face smeared in it, then what’s the point?

                I’ve been wrong about stuff before–really wrong. At some point, you decide whether to alter your ideology so it’s consistent with reality or you decide to be a Moonie.

                I’ll never be a Moonie. That’s the choice I make. I guess the ball’s in your court now–but what you’re saying?

                It doesn’t make any sense.

                1. Wal*Mart’s done more for lower income people than any federal program can.

                  Yeah it’s done a good job keeping their incomes lower.

              2. “What’s truly laughable is the idea that corporate management has the public interest at heart.”

                No, who the fuck thinks that? What serves the public interest is the creativeness of profit-seeking entities in competitive conflict with one another.

                1. “No, who the fuck thinks that?”

                  Guess you missed Shulz’s post directly above yours…

                2. “What serves the public interest is the creativeness of profit-seeking entities in competitive conflict with one another.”

                  Semantics.

                  How is that different from “public interest”?

              3. What’s truly laughable is the idea that corporate management has the public interest at heart.

                Actually, whats truly laughable is the idea that ANYONE does. Are we really to believe that every voter sheds his or her self-interest when they enter the booth? Or that every politician and beauracrat is making policy with no calculation of how such acts will best perpetuate their careers?

                And how does one determine what is the “public interest”? Do you believe that your interests are the same as libertarians? That Baptist’s interests are the same as atheists?

          2. Something doesn’t have to be the biggest problem facing the nation in order for it to be a problem that should be addressed.

            I don’t think it’s irrational or unreasonable to think that the unique characteristics of corporations may make their involvement in politics a bad thing. I think former Chief Justice Rehnquist best argued this in his dissent in Bellotti…

            1. There isn’t a problem–that’s the whole point!

              I think I see your problem now. You can’t tell the difference between federal tax money–that the government receives as revenue–and money that belongs to corporations and their shareholders.

              That’s your problem. Not A problem.

              Corporations (and their investors) get to do what they want with their own money! That’s what makes it their money.

              Ha!

              You think the federal government should be able to make decisions about how corporations spend their own money?!

              Again, seek medical attention.

              1. “You think the federal government should be able to make decisions about how corporations spend their own money?!”

                Corporations are run according to rules created by the federal government (and supplemental rules the holders may make), they are government creations, so complaining about corporations having to go by government rules is like complaining that your NFL team has to go by the rules of the NFL. The question is, what will the rules be? I think the rules should favor empowering the actual owners of the corporation (not government as you keep repeating bizarrely).

            2. What about unions, should they be able to use their resources to influence election politics?

              1. As much as I despise them, I would have to say yes, unions should be able to spend their own money to say all manner of evil.

                That’s the way free speech and freedom of association works. People I don’t like get to say stuff I don’t like–that’s what it’s all about.

                …and I get to point out that government employee unions are destroying this country in a way that no greedy Gordon Gekko could ever hope to–and no one should call the government in to put a stop to me saying it.

                1. I agree, my question was aimed at minge.

                  *shakes fist at sky, damns the end of nesting to hell*

                  My stance on public employees unions is that they should be able to organize and bargain, but that politicians should not be able to cut deals that will have major repercussions after they have left office.

              2. Unions are far more dangerous than corporations in campaign funding, as they have fewer checks on their ability to dump money into campaigns.

                If Wal-Mart came out with a bunch of ads opposing Democrats, they would lose a ton of customers.

                If the SEIU comes out with ads opposing Republicans, anyone who doesn’t like it can take their business elsewhere by…moving to Costa Rica, I guess.

                1. “If Wal-Mart came out with a bunch of ads opposing Democrats, they would lose a ton of customers.”

                  Not if there isn’t disclosure, which you interestingly oppose…

                  Besides, it’s just as easy to boycott union enterpises. People here talk about doing it all the time.

                  1. The vast majority of union workers are in public-sector jobs, dumbass. You can’t boycott the govt.

            3. MNG|10.14.10 @ 10:30PM|#
              “Something doesn’t have to be the biggest problem facing the nation in order for it to be a problem that should be addressed.”

              True enough MNGie, but there is no problem. MNGie.

            4. “I don’t think it’s irrational or unreasonable to think that the unique characteristics of corporations may make their involvement in politics a bad thing.”

              It’s not the “unique characteristics” (although I have some issues with the perverse corporate structure) that are the problem, it’s that they’re self-interested actors, and the same perversion exists for private voters as well. It’s the Tragedy of Commons, the defect of Democracy, and it’s the exact reason why the your guiding principle has to be small, limited government.

              1. KPres
                I sumbit those “perverse” characterstics you acknowledge may accentuate what concerns you about actual persons in the Tragedy. Corporations are structured to have a myopic focus on the maximization of their owner’s investment. That’s a good thing economically, but not so good in the realm of civics.

                1. I sumbit those “perverse” characterstics you acknowledge may accentuate what concerns you about actual persons in the Tragedy. Corporations are structured to have a myopic focus on the maximization of their owner’s investment. That’s a good thing economically, but not so good in the realm of civics.

                  How is this any different than the “myopic focus” that individuals collectively share? Don’t you perceive the collective beliefs of individual libertarian voters are “not so good in the realm of civics”? I would assume that most here share a similar belief towards individuals who share your own political concerns.

        2. MNG|10.14.10 @ 10:18PM|#
          “Why should corporate decisions about the use of their funds be subject to the force of government?
          Because the unique characteristics of the corporate form (perpetual existence, limited liability, management divorced from ownership, etc.) may not be compatible with promotion of the public good?”

          Hey, MNGie, sort of ignored, oh, say unions? Hey, MNGie, sort of ignored government in general?
          How “unique” is that MNGie?

          1. I’ve already said we can apply these rules to unions, and I’m in favor of transparency in government. Please, please lil’ Ronnie, pay attention. Turn Cartoon Network off if you are going to participate.

    6. See above. This whole issue about corporate donor disclosure is about non-profit corporations, not for-profit, investor-owned corporations.

    7. “As to corporate money, the solution is easy. Congress just passes a law requiring a publicized 2/3 vote of shareholders…”

      In other words, you want to change it from being outright restriction to limiting rights by setting a near impossible condition for publically held corporations while corporations with a small number of large shareholders can negotiate this easily.

      Get off the sanctimony that you want that condition to protect shareholders, you could give a rat’s nether regions about shareholders, you just want to restrict corporate speech by hook or by crook.

      Though it would be somewhat amusing for the NYT and WaPo having to hold shareholders meeting to approve every editorial.*

      *A corporation is a corporation. One does get more right because it runs newspapers. “Freedom of the press” is the freedom to us the instrumentality of a printing press, it is not a grant of special rights to journalism profession.

  22. “I’ve come put for public financing of campaigns.”

    Translation:
    “I want taxpayer money so I don’t have to work so hard”

  23. The guy is saying Constitution is wrong. That in and of itself is not bad. The document is not a holy book. I think everyone could find some part of it they think is wrong.

    Now, the part he found was the 1st Amendment. He just doesn’t like the idea of everyone having the ability to speak and form associations without limit. If that is how some of you people want to roll, I guess that is your right. But I will pass. I happen to like that part of the Constitution.

    1. The further question is how you’d qualify “Congress shall make no law…”
      The way the law was before the ruling was laughable; any company could publish a newsletter and gain the advantage of the NYT.

    2. It’s silly to say that was what meant. Are you saying that he thinks Citizen’s United was correctly decided? Cuz that’s what that means dude. Does anyone here think that? Really?

      I really think partisanship kills more brain cells than beer, at least when it comes to the ability to give a fair reading to the words of someone on the team you don’t like…

      1. Have you been drinking, minge?

      2. MNG|10.14.10 @ 10:21PM|#: “It’s silly to say that was what meant. Are you saying that he thinks Citizen’s United was correctly decided? Cuz that’s what that means dude. Does anyone here think that? Really?”

        Are you really that ignorant? Really?

      3. Yeah, I think it was correctly decided. And that wasn’t a knee-jerk agreement with the ruling. I’ve been thinking about it for a while.

      4. I don’t think McGovern cares if it was correctly decided from a constitutional viewpoint. I believe what he thinks is if it was decided correctly, then the Constitution is wrong.

  24. No one has fought harder for campaign finance reform in the United States Congress [than] me.

    Excellent, then we know who to revile and put at the top of the ‘family tree’ when we look back in fifty years wondering what the fuck happened to this country.

  25. I don’t think money equals free speech.

    Then why do you want to limit in campaigns?

    1. We should not limit the amount of money one may contribute to any campaign.

      We should limit how much any candidate may accept for any campaign.

      If a candidate believes taking all he is allowed from a single donor, let him test that theory at the polls.

  26. “I think the Constitution is wrong. I don’t think that money is the same thing as human beings. I don’t think money equals free speech. I don’t think corporations should have the same equality as a regular voter in this district.”

    Is he proposing we amend?

    Corporations are not the same a human.
    A human has ballot access.
    A corporation can only vote with it’s dollars and “feet”.
    Be careful what you ask for.

  27. The Constitution IS wrong on alot of things. Probably not on the things most liberals complain about today though…

  28. It is amazing how people like MNG always come up with the brain dead arguments where they want to create a new government law, and then twist it by stating: “What is the harm of making it truly voluntary” (his words). MNG perhaps you should learn what the word voluntary means, last time I check it does not mean being forced to make a decision, it is my business what I do with my shares, not yours, that includes not giving a damn about what party the corporation is funding.

  29. McGovern is an incoherent moron, but one whose idiotic views on 1st Amendment protections are consistant with the leadership of the Democratic party including President Obama.

    “I don’t think that money is the same thing as human beings. I don’t think money equals free speech.”

    Money represents the resources available to human beings to engage in speech. Money represents ink, paper, videotape, internet access and all other physical plant necessary to use mass media. To say that you are not restricting human being free speech rights by limiting the money people can spend in pursuit of speech is ludicrous.

    “I don’t think corporations should have the same equality as a regular voter in this district.”

    Corporations are owned and run by regular voters. Restirctions on corporations ability to speak is a restirction on real human beings.

  30. As Penn would say “And then there’s this asshole”.

  31. I recall reading recently that Hewlett Packard (PAC) gave more to Democrats than Republicans. What is more, HP was only the tenth largest donor to the Dems. Eight unions and a trial lawyer group were ahead of them. Aren’t most unions corporations?
    This moron ought to watch out what he wishes for.

  32. Ah, the evergreen:

    I don’t think money equals free speech.

    Apparently, free speech should encompass only the right to converse with people in your immediate vicinity. Any communication that goes beyond that requires the use of resources (paper, ink, computers, bullhorns, etc.), which all cost money. Ergo . . . .

  33. I wonder: why shouldn’t foreigners be able to influence elections? Think on it: the U.S. government meddles in the affairs of damn near every human being on Earth, including killing them. And they openly declare that they have the rightful authority to do so. They call the president the “leader of the free world”, insist he can order the kidnapping or killing of anybody anywhere, etc. And of course the U.S. government can meddle in any election, anywhere, anytime, but it’s not meddling; it’s “geopolitical strategy”.

    If the U.S. government is going to keep trying to run the whole fucking world, it seems mighty hypocritical to say that 99% of the people affected have no say in how they’re governed but to continue to call the U.S. a “democracy”.

  34. On the other hand, since the entire public is to weight proposed public policy there is an interest in the entire public knowing who is pushing what (largely because this allows the public to better weigh if proposed policy might be self-serving to some supporter rather than truly in the public interest, in other words it helps identify rent-seeking [this is my answer to Mike Laursen above]).

    This argument fails because you cannot escape self-interest. Regardless of how “altruistic” it may appear to outsiders, one acts to satisfy one’s needs, desires and valuations. Even Mother Theresa’s work with the poor were manifestations of her own self-interest, i.e. personal valuations. Liberals don’t clamor for social programs because they love the beneficiaries of such programs over themselves, but because they derive satisfaction from the perception of aiding others.

    One does not have to know who is behind any policy to make a decision regarding it. The merits and faults are manifest in the details and logical consequences.

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