If you question this administration or the progressive world view, you are the enemy, and the power of the government or the mob may be set upon you.
The debate over campaign contributions is never-ending for a simple reason: Both sides of the argument have merit.
On the one hand, of course money is speech. For most citizens, contributing to politicians or causes is the most effective way to augment and amplify speech with which they agree. The most disdainful dismissers of this argument are editorialists and incumbent politicians who — surprise! — already enjoy access to vast audiences and don’t particularly like their monopoly being invaded by the unwashed masses or the self-made plutocrat.
On the other hand, of course money is corrupting. The nation’s jails are well stocked with mayors, legislators, judges and the occasional governor who have exchanged favors for cash. However, there are lesser — and legal — forms of influence-peddling short of the outright quid pro quo. Campaign contributions are carefully calibrated to approach that line without crossing it. But money distorts. There is no denying the unfairness of big contributors buying access unavailable to the everyday citizen.
Hence the endless law-writing to restrict political contributions, invariably followed by multiple fixes to correct the inevitable loopholes. The result is a baffling mass of legislation administered by one cadre of experts and dodged by another.
For a long time, a simple finesse offered a rather elegant solution: no limits on giving — but with full disclosure.
Open the floodgates, and let the monies, big and small, check and balance each other. And let transparency be the safeguard against corruption. As long as you know who is giving what to whom, you can look for, find and, if necessary, prosecute corrupt connections between donor and receiver.
This used to be my position. No longer. I had not foreseen how donor lists would be used not to ferret out corruption but to pursue and persecute citizens with contrary views. Which corrupts the very idea of full disclosure.
It is now an invitation to the creation of enemies lists. Containing, for example, Brendan Eich, forced to resign as Mozilla CEO when it was disclosed that six years earlier he’d given $1,000 to support a referendum banning gay marriage. He was hardly the first. Activists compiled blacklists of donors to Proposition 8 and went after them. Indeed, shortly after the referendum passed, both the artistic director of the California Musical Theatre in Sacramento and the president of the Los Angeles Film Festival were hounded out of office.