Saturday, March 18, 2006

Say No To Public Campaign Finance

Had a nice exchange with old college acquaintance Charles, an occasional poster at Alas, regarding public funding of campaigns. Public campaign funding is one of those ideas which sound eminently reasonable and tempt even the purest of conservative hearts.

However, in the course of ruminating over our exchange, I hit upon the reason that public campaign finance isn't acceptable.

Political campaigns are speech. Paying for speech promotes the speech. Collecting tax revenue and then using it to support political speech which may be deeply repellent to the taxpayer is highly objectionable. Compelling support from the public for figures and views they may find offensive is an across-the-board issue: everyone has candidates who they would be profoundly unwilling to support. I don't want David Duke to get my money. Barry is an opponent of the Slade Gorton for President ticket. And so on.

I can think of few non-corporeal punishments more awful for many people. Give us $20 to pay for Pat Robertson's televised spot on why gay marriage causes global warming, or we'll throw you in jail. If a private citizen did it, it would be extortion.

I can see that there are some real merits to a publicly-funded system. But this objection seems to me insuperable.

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