David Preston Guest Post: Money in Politics

[Poof!] Greetings all. Satan’s attorney here. Satan’s tied up in a meeting, so he sent me . . .

Note that the memester is making an analogy, and as I’ve said about analogies, they’re neither true nor false, since they make no claim of absolute truth.

In attacking this meme, I would say that it’s a matter of perspective. You could take anything that’s perceived as silly or superficial that Americans spend a pile of money on each year and use it to trivialize campaign spending. For example, I just discovered that Americans spend $15 billion on Valentines Day – and that’s more than twice as much as $7 billion for campaign spending! So that means that campaign spending should be even LESS of a concern, right? Cuz’ hey, Valentines Day soaks up twice as much. (And approx. 2/3 of that amount is spent on just condoms.)

Meh. It’s all so damn subjective, isn’t it?


But Steve, here’s comfort to you:

You can neutralize the effectiveness of the analogy by first distilling out the core question, which is this: Is it wrong for wealthy people, corporations, and unions to spend millions, billions (or whatever) trying to influence elections?

–If the answer is “Yes, it’s wrong for them to spend money trying to influence elections!” then the heavy lifting is done. Because hey, if something’s wrong, it’s wrong. Right?

–But if the answer is “No, it’s not wrong for them to spend money trying to influence elections!” then you’ve got to take a different tack with your campaign finance reform argument, because the $7 billion number is probably not going to magically change anyone’s mind about the matter, even if you compare it with a number that makes it look huge and wasteful by comparison. (E.g., We spend only $3 billion on veterans care.)


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