All Men Are Slightly More Equal

1176 Words 5 Pages
Slightly More Equal

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” These are some of

the famous words written by Thomas Jefferson for the Declaration of Independence. This quote

embodies one of the principals our nation was founded on. Some argue that this has changed

with the Supreme Court ruling of Buckley v. Valeo and the conformation in Citizens United v.

FEC, that political spending should not be restricted because it is form of free speech. Are all

men still equal? Those who have the largest bankroll now have the “loudest” political voice.

The Supreme Court first ruled that political spending should not be restricted because it

was a form of free speech in Buckley v. Valeo.
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Valeo on the first amendment stating “A restriction on the amount of money a person

or group can spend on political communication during a campaign necessarily reduces the

quantity of expression by restricting the number of issues discussed, the depth of their

exploration, and the size of the audience reached.” Those who agree that political spending is

free speech argue that this was the only outcome possible according to the first amendment.

The first amendment states “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech . .

.” Others argue that if free speech is viewed in this manner, the amount of free speech you

have is directly tied to the amount of money you have. In the area of politics at least. It is hard to

imagine that people are making multi million dollar donations to campaigns for selfless reasons.

Even if they are and the donation is simply because that candidate best represents the donors

views, that donor is going to get more attention from the candidate than someone who just

simply voted for the candidate. Lawrence Lessig, a legal scholar, states “Members of Congress

now spend between thirty and seventy percent of their time raising money rather
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If the donor feels his money was not utilized well, he or she is unlikely to donate

again.

The views of the most affluent individuals in our society will be the views that are given

the most attention. Wealthy individuals have the resources to make large donations to

independent expenditures, who in turn use the money to run political ads expressing the views of

the donor. The people who do not have the means to donate are left with a more grassroots

approach, which will possibly not reach as many people as an ad on a major national television

station would. Effectively, he more money you have to support your political views the more

people you can reach. This is in a sense “buying” an election. If an individual with less resources

has what could be the more popular views, the individuals views can be undermined by a

wealthier individual running ads about their views. The general public will be exposed more to

the wealthier individuals views.

One of the more pressing issues of political spending being considered free speech, is what that money is being spent on. The Washington Post has reported that seventy two percent of the

ads funded by independent expenditures were negative ads attacking the opponent of

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