Pay To Play: The Constitution Under Siege

campaign finance illustration

I’d be well within my rights if I wanted to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars buying billboards, TV ads and mailers proclaiming so-called “global warming” to be the greatest threat to humanity since Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong battled for the genocide world title. In fact, I’d be well within my rights — and no less wildly off the mark — if I decided to blow a couple million dollars on a worldwide advertising campaign to warn people against the dangers of rabid Yetis.

It’s my money; who the hell are these so-called “progressives” to tell me how I should spend it? As far as I’m concerned, Senator Harry Reid’s opinion of my spending habits means as much to me as my opinion of his pathological mendacity, bid-rigging and nepotism means to him. And that’s as it should be. The Bill of Rights opens with the freedom of expression. And if I want to give millions — or even billions — of dollars to inexplicably tax-exempt, albeit un-audited, hate groups, then that’s my expressing myself. If I don’t have a pile of cash to throw at, then that’s my bad luck for not being George Soros.

According to the Democrats, they’ve had it with money in politics. In fact, they’re so tired of the undue influence wielded by the privileged few that they’ve taken to demanding a Constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon. In fact, the Democrat-dominated Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Wednesday on Senator Tom Udall’s (D-N.M.) proposed Constitutional amendment to give Congress control over campaign finance. Specifically, the Udall amendment states:

Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections, including through setting limits on–

(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; and

(2) the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates. …

The guys who live cozy and warm in the pockets of big-money special interests are going to end the undue influence of big-money special interests by giving more power to the guys who live cozy and warm in the pockets of big-money special interests. I feel better already. And how about that Udall, man of the people? He’s a dedicated servant of the poor huddled masses, who are yearning to live just half as well as Udall does, who has managed to accumulate a personal net worth of somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million without working outside the public sector for most of his adult life. And he’s mere pauper compared to some of his colleagues. The average personal net worth of a Democratic Senator is currently about $13 million.

Look, I’m as bothered as you are by the idea that our politicians are pretty much human motels whose “vacancy” signs are lit 24/7/365. But I’m just as bothered by the idea that I have to endure lectures on the topic of money in politics from people who have to lift their heads out of the trough to deliver the same. The only differences between common hookers and people like Reid are:

  • Reid spends more on his clothing.
  • You’re less likely to contract something itchy from a hooker.
  • Also hookers leave when it’s over.

Note that Reid’s personal net worth has jumped into 8 figures despite collecting government paychecks since before I was born.

Let’s pretend for a moment that Reid actually cares about John Q. Public. Reid is a senior member of the Senate. He’s so well-entrenched in his seat that he could probably get caught with both the proverbial live boy and dead girl and still get re-elected with 60 percent of the vote. The same is true for Udall and most of the rest of the Democratic leadership. And that begs the question: If they’re serious about looking out for the little guy, then what’s stopping them? But if Reid is so worried about the plight of regular schmoes, then why should it matter to him whether they have enough money to arrest his attention? And why should they trust a guy who has yet to dent the influence of big money in politics despite 45 years in politics? Why should anyone?

–Ben Crystal

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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