The County Board of Supervisors ruled against free speech today. Let me amend that; every Supervisor, except Board Chairman Bill Horn, limited your right to support candidates through a political party.
Horn registered his expected pro-freedom response. He started the conversation by saying that he opposes any limits to free speech. After public testimony (from five speakers and 16 non-speakers, against the contribution limit proposal, and exactly NO people supporting it), initiating Supervisor Ron Roberts amended his original proposal. He increased the contribution limit stating that his original number was too low.
Horn wasn’t buying it. He asked the incumbents to wait until the next election cycle so as to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Each County Supervisor answered Chairman Horn’s request with comments which were filled with logical fallacies: appeal to popularity, no true scotsman, bandwagon, and red herrings. Not one acknowledged that, by limiting campaign contributions in an election year where 3 of the 4 Supervisors are up for re-election, they look like they are trying to stifle dissenting speech.
The incumbents abused their positions, to codify into law, a limit to political parties’ involvement in their races. In other words, Supervisors Cox and Jacob made it harder for an endorsed Democrat to challenge them. Conversely, Supervisor Dave Roberts made it harder for an endorsed Republican to challenge him.
I love it when Republicans get re-elected but I love it because I think our ideas are better than the Democrats. I hate it when we act immorally to win those elections. Unfortunately, three Republicans and one Democrat did that today.
I hope every one of them is challenged by a popular, self-funding candidate with a brilliant consultant. Those will be ugly campaigns though–today’s Supervisors handed “dark” money, raised for attack ads, a big victory.
“I hate it when we act immorally to win those elections.”
Amen to that.
After reading commentary by Ron Nehring in the San Diego Union Tribune and by Brian Brady in SD Rostra regarding campaign spending limits, it appears that these individuals’ heads are in a place where the sun never shines. To try to correlate spending limits with the right to free speech is absurd. Yes, the first amendment grants us the right to free speech, however, it does not allow one to shout “fire” in a crowded theater, nor allow anti-racial or hate speech. Free speech is not allowed when it is at the detriment of the greater good of the people. Unlimited campaign spending and the lack of transparency is a detriment to the citizens and to democracy. Big Money in politics replaces the will of the people with the will of the wealthy and the will of special interests. Those who oppose spending limits and transparency are the ones who believe they can benefit by special interest money which allows their careers to move forward at the expense of citizens.
Transparency and spending limits are two different issues. When it comes to campaign contributions, I am in favor of the former and opposed to the latter. I am not however sure that the Republican Party agrees with me.
HQ– We agree. Transparency is imperative and limits are unconstitutional.
The two issues are mutually exclusive in my mind. I trust people to calibrate the message based upon the messenger.
You actually do have the right to yell fire in a crowded theater (especially if the theater is on fire) but you have to face the consequences of your action if there isn’t a fire. Incidentally, the Holmes quote you cited was used in a case which was overturned over 40 years ago. Even Holmes refuted that quote (used in the Schenk case) in the same term when he said (in the Abrams case): “The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.”
The First Amendment is quite clear about the government’s interference in your individual right of free speech. It isn’t allowed to do it. Justice Holmes realized that. Trotting out his “fire in theater” quote is just uniformed or lazy.
“Unlimited campaign spending and the lack of transparency is a detriment to the citizens and to democracy.”
I’d suggest that a politician passing a law against small donors pooling their donations to support her opponent is as detrimental to democracy as it gets.
“Those who oppose spending limits and transparency are the ones who believe they can benefit by special interest money which allows their careers to move forward at the expense of citizens.”
Well, not those who want to extend their career as a County Supervisor or those who want to re-invigorate their career as a campaign consultant. Those people would be in favor of using law to limit the ability of people to donate to their opponents.
I wish the elected members of your party, especially those residing in Washington, D.C. agreed with you that transparency is imperative. Ever since the Citizen’s United decision, the Republicans have done all they can to block every attempt at transparency when it comes to who is financing campaigns.
So have Democrats, HQ. It’s us v. them (grass roots v DC establishments) in both parties
“It’s us v. them (grass roots v DC establishments) in both parties.”
I agree with that sentiment on almost every issue, but not when it comes to campaign finance disclosures. The D’s in Washington have been pushing for transparency when it to comes to the myriad of PAC’s and who actually funds them. The Democrats have plenty of their own issues that they should be dealing with, but this one is strictly a Republican problem.