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Editorial: Great unequalizer

Posted on Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 12:44 pm

America’s favorite power broker will now have a new role in the way that candidates get elected to federal office.

Following the precedent they had already set in eroding our nation’s election laws, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday lifted the limit on total federal campaign donations an individual can make over a two-year period to candidates or political party committees.

National news outlets like the New York Times reported that the decision did not affect the $2,600 base limit in place for donations from individuals to candidates, but targeted instead the $48,600 two-year cap for total contributions to candidates and the $74,600 limit to political parties. Limiting donations on that scale violated the First Amendment, a majority of the Supreme Court’s more conservative justices concluded when ruling in favor of Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee.

In other words, when you spend money you are expressing free speech, therefore election laws shouldn’t curtail your ability to buy, or rather, support a federal candidate for office.

When paired with the previous decision that corporations are people and should be allowed to express free speech, the Supreme Court has now, essentially, ensured that wealthy individuals and special interests will now control our national elections, if that wasn’t the case already. We’re trying not to sound jaded here.

Reader, you may be asking yourself, “Isn’t the Herald-Progress a local newspaper? Why does it care about federal election law?”

The answer is simple. Elections will now grow louder, last longer, and become more vile, rabid and in-your-face than ever before. With unfettered funding, the attack ad machine will grow stronger. And we, the “voters,” will grow more polarized.

Writing in favor of striking down the limits, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. said, “There is no right in our democracy more basic than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.” They have ensured that we “commoners” no longer have that right.