On Monday, my colleague
Obviously skeptical of our argument, at one point the judge asked Paul this question: If “[a] person from
Of course, just because a view is common does not necessarily make it correct.
In fact, as a recent column by David Brooks makes clear, the notion that campaign spending “buys” elections is obviously wrong. As Brooks points out, even though the Democrats have outspent the Republicans in a number of close races, they lag behind in the polls. The same thing has happened to the Republicans in the past. And Brooks lists a number of candidates—including Joe Miller, who beat Lisa Murkowski, and Christine O’Donnell, who beat Mike Castle—for whom money obviously was not the deciding factor. There are many more examples, including Jon Corzine, Michael Huffington and Ross Perot, all of whom spent huge sums of money and lost. The same applies to ballot issues. Last summer, for example, proponents of a
None of this is surprising. Campaign spending doesn’t buy elections any more than commercial advertising buys market share. If it did, we’d all be driving American cars. The movies and television shows with the biggest ad budgets would be the most popular.
Money buys speech. It buys exposure. But it can’t buy elections, because the voters are ultimately the ones making the decision. Yet that’s exactly what the money-buys-elections argument denies. That argument presumes that voters are empty vessels, waiting to be filled with whatever thoughts the candidates and “special interests” want to pour into their heads.
The First Amendment is based on the opposite premise. As the Supreme Court said in Citizens United, “The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.” That some people may spend lots of money trying to convince us to agree with them does not make us any less free to make up our own minds.