Both Democrats and Republicans, along with the mainstream press, treat U.S. campaign-finance laws as sacred and sacrosanct, even superseding the Constitution. They act as if such laws are now a permanent part of America’s governmental system and should never be questioned or challenged.
Actually, U.S. campaign-finance laws are the epitome of inanity. They also violate fundamental principles of liberty.
The Trump impeachment inquiry
The utter inanity of these laws is being perfectly reflected in the Trump impeachment inquiry.
With one exception, it is legal for every American to call on Ukraine (or China or any other foreign regime) to investigate the possibility of official corruption in Ukraine by Joe Biden when he was serving as vice-president of the United States.
Businessmen, lawyers, doctors, plumbers, and janitors can openly call for such an investigation and not be subject to being fined or jailed by the authorities. Newspapers and websites are also free to publish editorials, op-eds, blog posts, and other commentaries calling on Ukraine to investigate Biden.
What’s the one exception?
President Trump and all other presidential opponents, both Republican and Democrat, of Joe Biden! That’s because U.S. campaign-finance laws supposedly require Biden’s presidential opponents to seal their lips and refrain from calling for Ukraine to conduct such an investigation.
Moreover, it doesn’t matter how much evidence there might be that Biden really did engage in official corruption as part of his meddling in Ukrainian affairs when he was vice-president. Under U.S. campaign-finance laws, that’s supposedly irrelevant. All that matters is that once Biden announced that he was running for president, that automatically meant that Trump and everyone else running against Biden for president was then required to immediately stop calling for such an investigation.
Mind you, it was okay for Trump to call for such an investigation when Biden was vice-president and continue to do so all the way up to the point that he announced his candidacy for president. But the minute he did announce his candidacy, Trump and every other person running for president was immediately required to stop calling for such an investigation.
If that isn’t inane, I don’t know what is.
Millionaire candidates and million-dollar donations
But there is even more inanity. Under U.S. campaign-finance laws, candidates for Congress and president are limited to receiving a maximum of $2,800 from individuals. Yet, a millionaire candidate is free to spend whatever amount of money he wishes on his campaign.
Is that inane or what?
Why doesn’t the law limit millionaire candidates to spending only $2,800 of their own money on their campaigns? Apparently the argument is that that would violate their First Amendment rights (even though the criminalization of Trump’s call for an investigation into Biden’s conduct supposedly doesn’t violate the First Amendment).
Okay, I believe millionaires should be free to spend whatever amount of money they want on their campaigns. I would add the rights of private property and economic liberty to the free-speech argument to justify that.
But why shouldn’t millionaires be free to donate whatever they want to candidates whose philosophy and principles mirror their own? What’s the difference between a candidate who spends a million dollars of his own money on his campaign and a candidate who spends a million dollars of someone else’s money that has been voluntarily donated to him?
A protection racket for Democrats and Republicans
Actually, U.S. campaign-finance laws are nothing more than a protection racket for Republicans and Democrats, a racket that protects them from the competition of independent candidates and third-party candidates.
Suppose there is an inner-city African American libertarian who wishes to run for Congress. He plans to make the drug war his signature issue. He has seen it close up. He wants to show people what an evil, immoral, corrupt, failed, destructive, and racially bigoted government program it is. He wants to make repeal of drug laws the centerpiece of his campaign.
Democrats and Republicans, both of whom support drug laws, have a huge base of support that enables them to raise lots of money, even with the $2,000 limit on contributions. Their candidates for Congress are able to raise the one million dollars needed to run their campaigns.
Not so, however, with the African-American libertarian. All his friends are poor. However, there is a millionaire libertarian who is willing to donate one million dollars to his campaign because he wants people to learn about the horrors of the drug war and why it should be ended, not reformed.
But the campaign-finance law says no. That millionaire can only donate $2,800 to the African American, a paltry sum that he has to use to just get on the ballot, given onerous ballot-access petitioning requirements whose real purpose is to suppress competition against the major party candidates.
U.S. campaign-finance laws are an inane and anti-freedom protection racket for Democrats and Republicans. Such laws should be repealed entirely.