The call to take money out of politics at first blush seems good. It inspires visions of people serving the public unstained and it identifies an easy-to-hate villain. However, like many things we’ve heard all our lives, this too is a lie.
Why is money, an inanimate object, the bad actor? Money is a tool. You spend it; I spend it. We all use to purchase goods or services. We give it to people or organizations that reflect our values and concerns. We give it in charity to those we want to help. Are we doing something wrong because we use money to do it? Of course not. Greed is evil, and therein lies the problem. How do you know if anyone is a greedy person? You don’t, unless you know him or her personally, and sometimes even then you do not know. So many people accuse others of greed without any evidence, and with zero mercy, ignoring the warning that the measure you use will be the measure used to judge you. It’s easy and false to presume that someone else is greedy or not; we don’t know on the basis of USA Today or Fortune magazine. Even if we had perfect insight into the souls of other people and knew, without doubt, that they were greedy, we would still have to deal with ourselves. Even if we had the power to force everyone else not to be greedy, our own problems would remain. In short, changing other people is not the solution for our unhappiness, and if we wait until everyone else is changed, we will forever be miserable and discontent. Thus accusing people of greed or blaming money for societal woes is just another manifestation of self-righteousness and another path to self-caused misery, another set of impossible demands which will never be realized.
So who wants money out of politics? People who think that money itself is evil and that its presence corrupts individuals as though individuals had no wills of their own. The first we’ve shown to be laughable, but the second deserves more scrutiny. Why would anyone think that people couldn’t choose to accept or reject money? Don’t even beggars choose to receive or reject charity? And politicians are not in financial need for their next meal, so why this presumption that they can’t be responsible? Why is an object assumed to have power that only humanity or God possesses? If you know much of liberalism, you can see where this is headed. Politicians, like blacks, like hispanics, like women, are all powerless individuals in the liberal mindset. They cannot control themselves and so they must be controlled, all for the greater good. Society demands it, you see. Thus, contribution limits. Thus, restrictions on PACs. Thus, the drumbeat to get money out of politics. So all money should be removed from politics, right?
The Citizens United case demonstrated the kind of money that needed to be removed from politics, apparently. If you remember the case, it concerned a group of individuals forming a business to create a political film and engage in political ad spending. The issue went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled, yes, businesses do have the right to spend money on campaign ads. However, Citizens United is not IBM or Microsoft or Google; it is a company of less than fifty people. So the issue wasn’t really about businesses, but about those gauche` individuals who banged on the door of the establishment to get their voices heard. Even to this day, you’ll hear liberals foam at the mouth about this case, and that is because they do not want the common man to be heard. The government will take care of things for you, you stupid little peon. Sit down and do as you’re told and don’t speak up about it.
Other laws and the mis-enforcement of them demonstrate what money must be kept out of politics, for example in the IRS/Tea Party scandal, where the IRS delayed the approval of non-profit and non-partisan groups because they were interested in political activism. Some of these groups, the IRS harassed with invasive questionnaires, demanding to know even what they prayed about. Some groups’ applications they delayed for years, effectively silencing them in the ’12 presidential election and the ’10 and ’14 mid-terms. Again, like with Citizens United, money is not the issue, but what money buys is.
Consider also churches, who are forbidden, on the basis of a 1954 IRS addendum, from engaging in political speech. This would have been a cause for war among the colonists, who viewed the church (and any other collection of individuals) as having free reign to speak on any issue. Even non-partisan voter education guides have been attacked, and the reason for that is that money must be kept out of politics, right? The real goal is to prevent conservative Christians from getting their viewpoint heard, as only those groups are targeted. Minority churches are never sued. Think: Randy Alcorn and the Christian Coalition.
Finally, consider the biggest campaign contributors. Who tops the list? Unions and liberal organizations. Who is interested in taking their money out of politics? I have never heard of anyone who calls for removing money from politics mention unions or liberal organizations. The reason is obvious. The establishment liberals want to retain power and influence, and so their money in politics is not seen as a threat. Everyone else’s money is a threat, and so (other people’s) money must be removed from politics.
Money does not corrupt; if politicians are bought by money, then the failure lies in those individuals, not in some abstract inanimate object, and not really in those who attempt to buy the politician with money. Everyone is tempted about something or another, and if a politician can be corrupted, that is a sure sign he or she should not be a politician! Money is not the problem in politics; there are not too many voices; rather, we should get more money into politics and hear more voices. All those who talk about getting money out of politics have one aim – shutting down a certain spectrum of political spending, advocacy, and speech. In the end, the desire to “remove money” means to remove certain kinds of expression and is just a code word for censorship. More money in politics now!