Victory for Free Speech and Call to Vigilance

This past week, in a 5 to 4 decision, the United States Supreme Court protected freedom of speech and overturned a portion of campaign finance laws that had made it illegal for groups of Americans to advertise for and endorse candidates by name.  Previously, if corporations, unions, or other organized groups of Americans wanted to campaign for a politician, they had to cut through the bureaucracy and create a special regulated 529 group to do it.  And even then, the best they could do is make vague comments about issues that candidates may have supported or opposed without mentioning the candidate by name.

In the government’s arguments in favor of campaign finance laws, lawyers told the Supreme Court that if someone wrote a 1,000 page book and finished it with “vote for so and so”, the book would not be allowed to be released within a certain time period  before the election.

What this ruling means is that Americans need to be vigilant.  We need to learn the issues.  A caller on this morning’s C-Span Washington Journal complained that he didn’t think corporations should be able to vote.  Fortunately for him, this ruling has absolutely nothing to do with allowing corporations to vote.  In fact, I would almost prefer a corporate vote to a vote from someone as ill-informed as this particular caller.  But it does demonstrate how easily many Americans will believe the absurd.  The fear is that many Americans will be overwhelmed with the billions of dollars in advertising unleashed by this ruling and will vote for whoever SEIU, Microsoft, and McDonalds tells them to.  That’s possible.  Have you tried the Subway diet because the TV said to?  Do you have a Shamwow and a Snuggy?  Did you get a Lexus for Christmas?

What I think is truly interesting is that the people making the loudest objections to this ruling are the Democrats.  Suddenly the gag rule is lifted.  Corporations can talk about what has been going on.  After the vilification of the banks, what do you think voters will do when AIG runs their side of the story in commercial form?  It will be interesting.

This could be especially damaging to Democrats who have recently all but conceded on their efforts to destroy our healthcare system and now are aiming to destroy our economy instead.  In fact, since the beginning of this week the DJIA has fallen from 2010 highs to nearly below 10,000 again.    It was down 552 points over Thursday and Friday.  Businesses are not excited about Obama’s plans to increase regulations and taxes under the pretense of creating economic recovery.

So why would I consider this ruling a victory for free speech?  If you remember, Obama decided to break his promise of taking public financing and the regulation that comes with it.  Instead, he raised a war chest of campaign funds and poured it into the 2008 election, filling the airwaves with future broken promises.  In the meantime, successful American businesses who would soon be struck by Obama’s policies were denied their freedom of speech.

As far as worried about corporate advertising, who would you have been more likely to believe in 2008?  Would you have believed the young, aspiring and promising Barack Obama?  That bright morning star?  Or the CEO of Freddie Mac trying to explain the Community Reinvestment Act in a billion dollar ad?  Nothing will change about your responsibility to find out the facts for yourself.

Now, as Obama has lost his Senate majority in what many consider a referendum on his healthcare plan in Massachusetts, he has returned to his populist attacks on banks and corporations.  What is Obama going to do when corporations begin running ads showing how many people they will have to layoff under a cap & trade system?  What is Obama going to do when AIG runs an ad showing how much they will need to raise rates to stay competitive when Obama hits them with penalty taxes?  How will Obama respond when insurance companies run commercials with charts showing how much Obamacare will cause their rates to rise?

I think that is why he preferred certain people and groups not having freedom of speech.


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