- Capitalism and Alternatives -

No, and here's why.

Posted by: MDG on October 28, 1999 at 00:52:40:

In Reply to: Campaign finance laws will prevent me from buying air time posted by DonS on October 27, 1999 at 19:01:33:

It's good to remind people that the airwaves are public property which were auctioned off to private interests (such as ABC, CBS, and NBC). However, they remain public property, akin to natural resources. Part of reforming our campaign financing would be to force (why mince words) the broadcasters who are benefitting enormously from the public airwaves to provide free or low-cost airtime to political advertising.
This is not a taking, as part of the broadcasters' charter including providing some service to the public interest; now, it's time to make them take that part of their lucrative contract seriously.

As for your assertion that the current system is not corrupt, I can't agree with you, but at a certain point, it has to be a matter of personal opinion, so we'll just leave our difference on this point as just that.

: :
: : The First Amendment guarantees the right to free expression, but giving money is not of itself an expressive activity, no more so than cleaning up your front yard expresses your belief in cleanliness. Furthermore, even if you consider political donations the equivalent of speech, the courts have long held that expression can be limited by the State. For example, you can't yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater. If the State has a substantial interest in limiting speech (as in the public safety interest attaced to the "Fire!" example), then the courts will allow the limitation. In the instant case, the State has a demonstrably substantial interest in promoting a flourishing democracy; the current campaign contribution is corrupting our democracy, and so it is entirely constitutional for our Congress to limit and/or regulate the system of campaign financing. Public financing of campaigns would put all candidates on a level playing field without limiting the content of their expression.

: Don: Campaign finance laws will prevent me from buying air time, preventing me from engaging in free speech. It is a direct violation of my First Amendment rights. Already, campaign finace laws have been used in attacks of free speech on Web sites! I do not agree that the current system is corrupting our democracy (or rather, our republic). Further, public funding would give additional power to the government to control elections. I say end all public funding of elections and end all campaign finace laws!

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