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  • Jay Kaufman

Free speech, expensive speech

Corporate campaign contributions have been blessed by the Supreme Court as free speech and justified as a legitimate expression of corporate values. But they're fundamentally different from the small contributions we make to candidates who reflect our values and aspirations. Big money is about a different set of values and aspirations - influence and control. To ignore this (as the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision did) is to give license to expensive speech in the name of free speech. In the wake of the January 6 insurrection, many corporations have announced their intention to withhold money from the elected officials who were part of or defended that assault on our democracy. If punishing some of those bad actions and actors is all that we do, shame on us. We need an examination of the role that money plays in politics, and that role is corrosive. Basic fact: To serve in Congress, you need to spend hours daily reaching out to potential donors. Both parties have call centers (just targeted for pipe bombs) near the Capitol so their members can take a break from being our voices in Washington to fuel campaigns and gain influence because of the size of their war chest. Elections require an end to the pay-to-play disenfranchisement of the many by the few. Elections are a public good worthy of protection from those who would bend it to their interests.

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