Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shut up! I'm talking here! Fair Elections and the First Amendment

With all the ideological racket in play over the Supreme Court's consideration of Arizona election law, currently under a publicly funded system, the LA Times editorial staff parse through some of the arguments in opposition to the publicly funded elections system, and explain why they are fallacious.

The main argument against the publicly funded system is that it limits privately funded candidates first amendment rights to free speech because their voices will be diluted by matching public funds, which incentivize privately funded candidates not to speak for fear of their opponent being able to speak back. The entire political system, with parties and factions, and all, are intended to be an impetus to debate to determine what is best for the commonwealth of the country, which is a purpose of the government beholden to the people.

Supreme Court Justice Kagan said "There is no restriction at all. It's more speech all the way around." The proponents of the view that epitomize 'first amendment freedom of speech rights are limited through publicly funded elections' are perversely undermining their own claims; publicly funded elections are allowing for more use of these first amendment freedoms.

In a country as diverse as the U.S., it is important that government officials commensurate with that diversity are not presented with preemptory roadblocks in the opportunity to run for office. Publicly funded elections could allow the voices of marginalized or currently underrepresented groups to be heard.

The very assertion that matching public funds to private campaigns limits freedom of speech manifests the perverse marriage of money in politics, and it is important that this be mitigated to the extent possible in a nation that prides itself on its racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, political, ideological, social, and cultural diversity.

See the editorial here:

In the words of two former U.S leaders:

"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." ~George Washington

“It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.” Herbert Hoover

"Dictator" is admittedly hyperbolic, but the sentiment rings true.

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