People argue earnestly, for instance, that unlimited donations are necessary as an instance of free speech, citing the Constitution. But this is faulty reasoning, and it is obviously counter to what the founders intended when they protected an equal right to free speech for all Americans. Constitutionally protected free speech is a universal natural right. We each have this right equally, because of our basic humanity. This is a foundational principle of natural law doctrine, invoked in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence with the words:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…"
Notice that the founders did not say that all are created equally in proportion to their disposable income. That would have been absurd then, and it is absurd now. Campaign finance restrictions are necessary to create some, albeit imperfect, basis for the fundamental equality of each of us in the eyes of our law.
In the absence of appropriate restrictions, we find members of Congress with contributions from medical device and medical services companies comprising fully one third of total dollars from their top twenty contributors. Such lawmakers are in the box with regard to health care. They are quick to broadcast how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will increase the costs of Medicare and Medicaid, but they fail to report that the Congressional Budget Office reported the ACA, as passed in December 2009, would reduce federal deficits by $118B from 2010 through 2019. They can recite their donors' arguments about how the ACA will increase taxes and hurt corporate profit margins, but they fail to mention that the middle class has subsidized those profit margins by bearing the hidden, distributed costs of 50 million uninsured Americans for decades. They cry about the insurance mandate as an unprecedented infringement on individual liberty, with no mention of the financial responsibility mandates that have been part of automobile liability law in all 50 states for decades. Lawmakers who are in the box represent donors, and cannot represent individual citizens the way they should. All of this may happen quite innocently as a result of the self-betrayal, self-deception cycle described by the Arbinger Institute in Leadership and Self Deception. Our members of Congress and other career politicians don't have to be bad people in order to be victims of self deception.
Earnest journalists will tell us that money has always played a role in politics, and that it has always been the responsibility of citizens to bring their reason to the voting booth. But never before in the history of our republic has there been such a virulent combination of information technology and unbridled spending on political messaging. De-regulated television and radio combined with the information technology revolution have exponentially increased the power of every marketing dollar at a time when we have removed virtually all restrictions on political marketing dollars. It is no wonder more and more Americans accept the self-betraying premise that those on the other side of the political spectrum are evil or stupid, putting us in a vicious cycle where more and more voters are polarized by self-deception. The solution is clear: we must replace career politicians with career citizenspeople who are not "in the box"this November, and we must re-enact campaign finance restrictions as soon as possible.
Steve is an unaffiliated candidate running in Utah's third Congressional district. He believes we have to change the culture of Congress so members once again put the good of the country in front of their political party. Steve has had extensive leadership experience in business and government, having served as an executive at internet retailer Overstock.com from 2004-2014, a Soldier in the United States Army from 1983-2004, and as a senate fellow and legislative liaison for the Army's Senior General. He holds degrees from the United States Military Academy and Stanford University, and he is the author of Accountability Citizenship (2013). Find Steve at http://www.tryonforcongress.com/ or follow him on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/StephenPTryonforCongress
This article is paid for by Stephen P Tryon for Congress.