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Columns

Tennis’ Rebuttal

By
Opinions Columnist
Friday, November 30, 2012

Alex Drechsler ’15 writes that limiting monetary donations in political campaigns contradicts American principles. But keeping campaigns open to donor funding violates principles of democracy and equal opportunity, and actually manipulates the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

Drechsler writes that campaign finance reform limits a person’s right to influence another’s vote. But arguing against campaign funding is not a denial of this right. It is a rejection of the idea that a vote has a price tag. Removing money from politics is not contrary to free speech. In reality, removing money from politics ensures that speech remains free and equal.
Drechsler compares the constitutionally protected, influential power of the media and other bodies with that of donors. He argues that the influential power of donors must also be protected. Yet, as I wrote in my opening, we guard the media’s ability to influence elections because the media primarily uses its strong presence in this regard. Without money as a factor, celebrities can still use their visibility and star power, academics can still use research and writing skills and the Brown Democrats can still use the old standby of consistent presence and outreach to promote their parties and politicians. A donor writing a check is hardly comparable, requiring only the ability to sign a name. Oh yeah, and the ability to possess disposable income – something that many Americans simply do not have. Without restrictions on campaign financing, a whole portion of the American public is essentially disenfranchised.

The difference between Drechsler’s examples and the act of donating money to a campaign lies in how these proceedings affect politics. Actions taken by the Brown Democrats or Rush Limbaugh to promote their candidates do not directly determine how the candidate will behave in office if elected. But donors who give money to campaigns expect something substantial in return. They are speaking out for issues they believe in – and underlining that speech with a check. Such speech is a privilege that requires a great deal of money. Further, it can significantly impact the behavior of politicians, allowing them to work for the interests of a few. That doesn’t sound very democratic to me. 

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