Thursday, October 4, 2012

Campaign Finance is More Complicated Than I Thought

The new season of Intelligence Squared US kicks off with a fantastic debate on the merits of campaign finance restrictions. I listened to the audio on itunes, but YouTube has the full video also. These debates are always incredibly substantive and professional, and this year's roster of speakers and topics is just killer.

Before the debate I was completely supportive of stringent rules to limit the influence of money in politics. After the debate, I'm still largely supportive of most restrictions, but I have a much better sense of the issue's complexity and basically see it as a pragmatic/technocratic policy thing. The side arguing against the  regulation of money in politics convinced me that their free speech position is legitimate and is the best place to begin the conversation. Meaning restrictions ought to be defended in terms of their practical benefits outweighing the status quo of unfettered free speech (and the capacity to broadcast it (read money)). This is a big shift in my previous attitude that viewed campaign finance restrictions as having some a priori justification.

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