18 May 2007

Clean Elections

I really like the idea of Clean Elections and am glad to see it gets play in the ADN today:

With Clean Elections, corporations and special interests can't buy their way into the halls of government with large campaign contributions. Special interest money is simply taken out of the equation. This puts people back in charge of the electoral process and their democracy. Candidates are no longer beholden to a small number or large donors, but are free to serve the actual voters that elected them.
The objection that I always hear about government-financing of elections is something like this: free speech is constitutionally-guaranteed and donating money is an example of free speech and so can not be regulated. (In fact, I believe the Supreme Court has ruled that way.)

I believe in free speech as much as the next person but I even more believe in free AND EQUAL speech. And money makes speech unequal because - and this is undeniable - it privileges some speech over others. The only reason Bill Allen was able to get people to vote his way was not because of the inherent virtue of his beliefs but because he was able to buy access and votes with his cash.

Free speech works just like pure economic competition - a free marketplace in which each idea (or business) competes equally and the best one wins. But when one of those ideas is given undue prominence because of the access money buys we no longer have free speech.

That's why I think Clean Elections at the very least deserve to be discussed.

UPDATE: There's bi-partisan sponsorship (including Lesil "My Husband is Indicted for Bribery" McGuire) for the two clean elections bills introduced late in the session. That should at least make the issue viable next session.

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