It is hard to imagine in the “land of the free” that Americans are forced to register and report with the government just to criticize it. But that’s what today’s campaign finance laws do—smother and inhibit individuals from speaking.
Sadly, many groups promote campaign finance reform as a means to provide clean elections or clear corruption from the political process. There is no shortage of money and individuals lining up creating new rules, new reform, and tougher penalties in this arena. But time and time again, strict approaches to campaign finance laws have failed to pass judicial review. Strict campaign finance simply means fewer people speaking and contributing their ideas to our national debate.
Others view campaign finance reform as a means to silence their opponents and promote their agenda. Gara LaMarche, president of the Democracy Alliance, noted that “If we can’t succeed in turning [campaign finance] around, and it will take some years to do it, we will never make the progress we need to make on critical issues facing the country and the world like climate change and gun violence.” Further, “In that crucial sense, dealing with the distorting effect of money on our politics is a prerequisite to every other advance we seek.” For some, imposing stricter campaign finance laws is an effective way to shut down the opposition and ramrod their policies into American politics.
We have another vision.
We envision an America where grassroots groups don’t have to fill out dizzying paperwork to hold those in power accountable. We believe Americans are smart enough to decide which speakers to listen to and which they’d prefer to discredit—whether those speakers disclose themselves or not. We think that more ideas, more competition, and more opportunities for information to be exchanged re a net positive.
At the Pillar of Law Institute, we fight for an open marketplace of ideas where Republicans, Democrats, and every voice in-between can freely discuss their ideals without fear of government retaliation. We welcome the Steyers, Kochs, and Soros of the world to compete for our attention and shake up the public mind. We aren’t afraid of new ideas. We welcome unions, corporations, trial attorneys, and coal producers to share their thoughts, even when they use odd names. We believe that in the land of the free, citizens must be trusted with, and are capable of, self-government.