Changing the Debate

Three weeks ago, the debate raging in campaign finance community was whether or not rich citizens and corporations would buy elections.  Largely missing from this debate was the acknowledgement that elections are won by obtaining the greatest number of votes.

By Friday’s GW Law Review Symposium titled: “Law and Democracy: A Symposium on the Law of Governing Our Democratic Process” (link here), this had changed.

Gone were the charges that “dark money” had subverted democracy.  Instead, the talks focused more on how potential voters were desensitized by media saturation, and how mobilizing voters is significantly more important in winning than running flashy TV advertisements on the six o’clock news.

So what will the future of campaign finance look like?  If the panels were any indication, the pro-speech regulation crowd will continue pushing for new disclosure regulation and renew support for public funding.  CCP Chairman Brad Smith, participating in the panel “Future of Campaign Finance,” had this to say:

There was one notable change in the dialogue: many pro-regulation panelists came out in favor of raising contribution limits.  Although their goal is to blunt the impact of outside spending, which we do not agree with, it signals that the regulatory community may begin addressing the problem of excessively low federal contribution limits.

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