Speech! Speech!

Public Campaign Action Fund is now Every Voice. Check out our new website: EveryVoice.org

According to Dmitri Vassilaros at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, campaign finance reform is a)"chilling"; b)a tool of The Man to keep citizens away from government; and c) waaay too popular among elected officials. First, thanks Dmitri for making the campaign finance crowd sound so fascinatingly evil -- I feel like I should be writing this from a mountaintop hideaway while petting a pit bull and twirling my gold pinkie ring. Second, public financing hardly limits speech, in fact it broadens it.

Public financing would allow candidates to swear off the fundraising chase that forces them to dial for dollars, host high-dollar fundraisers, and spend far more time hearing from a small group of big donors than from the much larger group of regular voters who can't afford to give big but who are counting on their representatives to stand up for their interests. To reduce the political speech worthy of protection to the ability of very wealthy individuals to donate unlimited sums to campaigns is to effectively dismiss the concerns of the vast majority of voters who want a government more responsive to their concerns.

 

Public financing promotes the involvement of the community in campaigns. You're free to support the candidate of your choice with a small qualifying contribution -- then exercise a little more free speech by lacing up your shoes and going to door-to-door in support of the candidate of your choice. If not being able to heap loads of cash on your candidate offends you, choose to support a candidate not participating in the publicly financed system.

 

Far from limiting public speech in politics, public financing amplifies the voices of those voters who are not often heard from. Mr. Vassilaros: that's hardly a "chilling" proposal, it's the essence of a democratic system -- one which has been straining for far too long to accommodate the narrow view of speech to which your column subscribes.