Reformers attempting to regulate free speech and bailout old media
The reformers are at it again with yet another attempt to criminalize political speech and campaign activity.
From the government’s Department of Perverse Acronyms comes the “DISCLOSE Act”, which stands for “Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections”. How clever. And how disingenuous.
It’s being championed by New York Democrat Chuck Schumer in an attempt to get around this year’s Supreme Court decision which threw out restrictions on freedom of speech for unions and corporations in political campaigns.
The claim is that large amounts of money spent by corporations on political speech somehow corrupts the system, but it should be noted that Schumer’s bill would reinstate no restrictions on unions, just corporations and average citizens. In other words, he only seems to want to cast light on “some” spending.
Of course, as Democrats attempt to limit political activity by corporations they want to bring to mind visions of BP or mega-sized drug companies, but it would also apply to the corporation that you set up to run your family business.
In a world increasingly run by Washington, corporations need the ability to protect their interests and speak out effectively when necessary – and, as experience has taught us, size doesn’t matter when it comes to being at risk from government.
Then there are the non-profit corporations on all sides of the political spectrum that exist specifically so that Americans of like mind can join together and have an impact on the things they care about. This latest version of reform would force the public disclosure of their membership lists, which means that Democrats now support a right of privacy for abortion, but not for membership in political organizations.
Increased regulations and disclosures put a greater burden on small organizations and average citizens, not on multi-million dollar corporations with an army of lawyers. The net effect is to hamstring political speech by the little guy. Hardly what our Founding Fathers had in mind.
But what the Democrats have in mind is squelching the effective speech of those tthat hey disagree with, which is why their bill doesn’t touch the unions.
So what’s the real agenda here? Why restrict some groups’ activities and require regular Americans to jump through more hoops to impact their own government? Because when you force some players to play with one hand tied behind their backs, or make the rules so complicated that you scare people from even playing the game, it’s easier to win.
Does that sound like what the First Amendment means when it says, “Congress shall make no law…abridging freedom of speech”?
The fact is that the larger and more expensive that our government becomes, the more critical it is that average citizens have the means to impact what it does with our money and our liberties. Unfortunately, the “reformers” are working to make that harder to do. They want to protect Leviathan from average Americans.
So often today lawmakers and judges are ready to defend anything as free speech – no matter how vulgar or perverse – unless it is political speech, which is the very type of speech the Founders where concerned about protecting from government.
But the reformers are trying to manufacture a crisis and use the fear of corporations and big money to generate support (or at least indifference) for their reforms. However, the claim on which the crisis is based is completely bogus. The simple fact is that the power and influence of money in politics is diminishing with each passing day thanks to the internet.
Speech is becoming more democratized in a world where anyone can create a website or social network and push their own agenda. The voices of individuals are collectively becoming louder and more effective.
That might explain why the government is also fighting to protect the mainstream media from the rise of the internet. The Federal Trade Commission is looking to promote regulations that will impose a new tax in order to fund a perpetual bailout of old (read: liberal) media outlets like the New York Times. The proposed tax targets? Cell phone bills, electronic gadgets and even websites themselves.
It’s a corrupt attempt by government to protect itself in the long run by protecting its friends in the liberal media from the free market.
In short, the reformers oppose a free market for journalism, as well as for political speech – which tells you all you need to know about their reforms.
What our country needs is more political speech, with fewer regulations. Not the other way around.
This is, after all, supposedly a free country; and free political speech is what keeps it that way.
Someone should tell Chuck Schumer.
Cross-posted at DrewMcKissick.com