Jun 17, 2012 4:32 PM GMT
I'd say it's odd that campaign finance reform tends to only be much more of an issue in years that Republicans have the funding advantage like this one, but really, it's not.
What's really interesting is that, if current projections are right, this will be the third election in a row in which the party holding the White House will be outspent by the opposition.
In 2004, incumbent Republican George W. Bush's side was outspent narrowly by those opposing him and favoring Democrat John Kerry. One reason is heavy spending by billionaire George Soros, about which we heard few complaints from those now decrying the billionaire Koch brothers' spending as a threat to democracy.
In 2008, Barack Obama broke his promise to rely on public financing and raised and spent about $750 million. About half as much was spent on behalf of John McCain, who accepted public financing.
Now, despite the clout any incumbent president has, Democrats are likely to be outspent by Republicans.
All of which tends to undermine the case made for campaign spending limits. In the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo case, the Supreme Court said limits on campaign contributions were constitutional. They didn't violate the First Amendment guarantee of free speech because they were intended to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption.
In effect the Court said that you can abridge First Amendment rights in order to limit "smart money" contributions. Smart money, by definition, goes only to incumbents and candidates with a good chance of winning.
But in our last two presidential elections and apparently in this one, the smart money going to the party in power has been outweighed by "angry money" going to the party out of power.
The billionaires and the many, many others fueling the anti-Bush coffers in 2004 believed that the 43rd president had lied America into an unjustified and probably unwinnable war. I didn't agree but, hey, it's a free country and people should be free to try to elect the candidate of their choice.
In 2008 Barack Obama raised a lot of "hope" money and, since it looked like a Democratic year, a lot of smart money. But angry money from Bush haters helped propel his total take to record levels.