Democrats losing elections and argument against Citizens United

Jon Ossoff loses George House race despite far outspending his Republican opponent. (Getty Images)

Not only are Democrats wrong on principle in their unified effort to legislatively repeal the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC ruling, they are wrong in their rationale.

The 5-4 Citizens opinion stated it is unconstitutional on First Amendment free speech grounds to limit spending on political speech by corporations and unions.

At one point Sen. Harry Reid, in arguing for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens, stated:

But the flood of special interest money into our American democracy is one of the greatest threats our system of government has ever faced. Let’s keep our elections from becoming speculative ventures for the wealthy and put a stop to the hostile takeover of our democratic system by a couple of billionaire oil barons. It is time that we revive our constituents’ faith in the electoral system, and let them know that their voices are being heard.

His heir in the Senate, Catherine Cortez Masto, has taken up the cudgel, saying in a press release in support of another attempt February to amend the constitution:

The U.S. Constitution puts democratic power in the hands of the American people — not corporations or private companies. Since the Citizens United decision, big corporations have gained unprecedented influence over elections and our country’s political process. I am proud to be a cosponsor of this legislation; it’s critical that we end unlimited corporate contributions if we are going to have a democratic process and government that will truly work for all Americans.

The Democrats in the Nevada Legislature waded in with a resolution urging Congress to amend the First Amendment and overturn Citizens. It passed without a single Republican vote.

This week their bleating about elections being bought and paid for by the wealthy was proven dead wrong, again.

Not only was President Trump outspent by loser Hillary Clinton by two-to-one, but now in a race for a Georgia House seat the Democratic candidate outspent his Republican opponent by seven-to-one and still lost.

And talk about special interest money. The Democrat Jon Ossoff, between March 29 and May 31, reported receiving 7,218 donations from California, but only 808 donations from Georgia. Overall, he got $456,296.03 from Californians, compared to $228,474.44 from Georgians.

The Democrats are not only losing elections, but are losing the argument about the effectiveness of the influence of outside money. Being able to spend your own money on political speech is tantamount to free speech, but not to convincing speech.

In Citizens, the late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote:

The (First) Amendment is written in terms of “speech,” not speakers. Its text offers no foothold for excluding any category of speaker, from single individuals to partnerships of individuals, to unincorporated associations of individuals, to incorporated associations of individuals — and the dissent offers no evidence about the original meaning of the text to support any such exclusion. We are therefore simply left with the question whether the speech at issue in this case is “speech” covered by the First Amendment. No one says otherwise.

 

Advertisements

35 comments on “Democrats losing elections and argument against Citizens United

  1. Bill says:

    How ironic. California uber liberal, rich, donors poured millions into a Georgia Congressional race. Is that interference with an election when out of state interests try to influence a Congressional race? If California succeeds in seceding from the Union, as some have advocated, would this be an act of war? Democrats, while bemoaning Citizen’s United have no problem at all with crony Capitalism. Hypocrisy is one of the less endearing traits in politicians.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Did you read Dark Money yet Thomas?

    Because whatever “the records” show being spent on these races, dramatically misstates the amounts that were spent.

    Oh, and if Texas seceded from the Union, as the former governor advocate, and many republicans agreed, would that have been an act of war?

  3. It was when the South did it, though there is nothing in the Constitution to prohibit it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Lots of things the Constitution doesn’t prohibit that aren’t legal.

  5. Athos says:

    It’s a shame Joe Heck bailed on Trump. He may have still lost ( illegal alien vote being what it is), but this Harry Greid puppy is a joke!
    California East!

  6. Rincon says:

    So if lots of money has no effect on election outcomes, what are you worried about? Make it illegal to contribute large amounts and you accomplish two things: 1) You save these rich people a whole slew of money that they can spend it on something productive. 2) Eliminate any perception of pay to play among the voters. That would renew our faith in government and minimize favors by politicians to big donors..

    Doing that won’t affect election results in the least according to your beliefs, so what’s not to like?

  7. Barbara says:

    Instead of limiting free speech, reform the tax code to restore the federal government to limited, enumerated powers contained in the Constitution. Take away the power of the federal bureaucracy to engage in crony capitalism and there is no need for “rich people” to buy influence. Solves a whole lot of problems. But of course, the goal of Democrats (and Republicans) is consolidating power in a central government and taking even more freedom from the individual.

  8. deleted says:

    The Federal Government was never intended to be limited to any specifically enumberated powers no matter how many times far right wing types repeat it.

  9. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

  10. deleted says:

    At the risk of having a copy and paste day:

    “The Congress shall have Power … To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

  11. “the foregoing Powers …” Those enumerated powers.

  12. Deleted says:

    Well…that’s part of what it says. “And all other powers..,”. And the “foregoing powers” include the power to provide for the general welfare.

    In your eyes Thomas does the fact that the Constituion doesn’t provide the federal government with the power to but pencils (or paper or pens or phones or computers…) means that they don’t have that “power”?

  13. Athos says:

    The Constitution was written by moral men who understood responsibilities. But now it is being interpreted by little babies that need their butts wiped by Uncle Sam.
    Fortunately there are still moral people in this country that understand their responsibilities. The whiny babies have woken us up, and we’re beating your butts at the polling booths! ( no matter how much money you spend)

  14. Anonymous says:

    I say congratulations to the Tenth Amendment Center. But, what has that got to do with the price of tea in China?

    The Federal Government was never intended to be limited to the enumerated powers and no matter how many times….”conservative” groups, or people say it, doesn’t make it so.

    It might be important to remember the reasons why they wrote the Constitution to begin with; the Articles of Confederacy, far more limited than the Constitution ever was, didn’t work. The states understood that, which is why they decided a new, far more expansive, governing document was necessary.

    “We” had a “limited government” structure in place, the governed understood that the limited structure was going to get this “country” killed (as it were) and that to survive the Federal Government was going to need to be much stronger that that envisioned by the authors of the Articles of Confederacy.

  15. Barbara says:

    Revisionist history. Progressives love to characterize the Federalist as early advocates of big government. They conveniently disregard the truth that nearly every Founder shared a healthy skepticism of a large federal bureaucracy. Alexander Hamilton, probably the most fervent advocate of a stronger national government, scoffed at and ridiculed the idea that the federal government could be anything other than the modest, divided, and tightly constrained. This was a view also shared by the writer of the Constitution, James Madison. Both Founders believed that the States would always be more powerful than the central government as they argued in the Federalist Papers – apparently documents Anonymous and Deleted have never read.

    I would also suggest reading Senator Mike Lee’s new book, Written Out of History – the forgotten Founders Who Fought Big Government.

  16. Anonymous says:

    If the Founders believed the states would always be more powerful, why did include a “Supremacy Clause” in the Constitution?

    The power of the federal government was intentional; it was intended to insure that the union lasted. The wisdom of the founders, in creating such a government, was demonstrated only a few years later when a weak “government” was “created” by southern states that had no ability, and an actual refusal, to grant greater powers to the central government, was met by the union.

    The fact is that the founders, and most interested observers from the times, recognized how weak the earlier Articles of Confederation were, and therefore a MUCH “less limited” structure was created.

    A “limited” federal government existed when the Articles were signed, the point of the Constitution was to greatly enhance the power of the federal government so as to ensure the survival of the country.

    The results demonstrate how wise those guys were; lots of longevity, lots of strength, all as a result of a much stronger central government than some on the far right seem to want to suggest the founders wanted all along.

  17. Rincon says:

    Whatever we think the Founding Fathers wanted is speculation and almost always arguable. If it isn’t in print, it doesn’t exist. The pity is that the Conservatives’ reverence for the Founding Fathers borders on religion – as if no one since them has had a brain. The Constitution is a living document which was meant to be amended. We hesitate far too much to do so when needed.

    It’s all too easy to rail about our federal government being too large and powerful and it’s fine to specify portions that need to be reduced, but I am astonished at how educated people so easily forget history and take our societal advances for granted.

    Antitrust laws were made in response to the abuses of giant corporations such as the Rockefeller monopoly. Do we really want to back to that? Social security was formed in response to societal changes. Due to a host of factors, old people were routinely destitute. Do we want to go back to that? Medicare was formed in response to insurance companies’ refusal to cover old people for a reasonable premium. Do we really think private insurance is practical for a 90 year old with little money? Was the rural electrification program worth it? The EPA was formed shortly after the Cuyahoga River caught fire and burned for 2 days. Do we really want to go back to that? There was a day when cars were built without such minimal protections as padded dashboards, safety glass windows and seat belts. The automakers were dragged into safety kicking and screaming. Do we really want them to be in charge of that again? And do we want to starve the government of the money to make safe roads? In 1950, there were 7.4 deaths per hundred million vehicle miles. Today, it’s 1.12. Although technology is certainly better, the government’s role in making our roads safer is indisputable except by ideologues wearing their blinders. Workplace deaths and injuries have taken a similar path. The Securities and Exchange Commission was created in response to endemic fraudulent behavior towards investors by the financial industry. Do you really want to go back to the honor system? The worth of building codes is obvious every time there’s an earthquake in a 3rd world country. Get rid of them too? How about the threat of a massive solar flare? Let the electric companies sort it out? Should we let private enterprise search for killer asteroids? How strong would our space industry be if NASA hadn’t paved the way? Smallpox killed over 300 million people worldwide in the century prior to its eradication. I’m sure private enterprise would have licked that problem much faster if government hadn’t gotten in the way (yeah, right). Smallpox is only one of a host of diseases that we no longer fear. Only in the dream world of a Conservative mind does government deserve no credit for disease reduction. We take for granted so much of the knowledge gained by government sponsored research. Not only are there huge societal benefits (Most of our ability to prevent heart attacks came from government research for instance) from government research that can be listed (https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/reports/2012/12/10/47481/the-high-return-on-investment-for-publicly-funded-research/), but only the majority of Americans who are ignorant of the workings of research fail to understand that it took thousands of pieces of knowledge gained by basic research to bring us almost any of the modern devices that we take for granted today. The widespread famines that seemed to be a future certainty in the ’60’s never happened due primarily to the green revolution funded primarily by, you guessed it, those awful feds. The FDA was created in response to the proliferation of quack remedies, including those containing such goodies as radium. Should we just get rid of them? Government paved the way for satellite technology, the benefits of which are mostly unseen by the average grunt.

    Shall I go on? Conservatives often take for granted the myriad benefits government has provided over the years and instead focus mostly on the occasional boondoggles and the theoretical paradise provided by imaginary corporate benevolence. Most government agencies were created in response to things that were clearly broken. We get so used to a smoothly functioning society that we forget some of the tragedies of the past.

  18. deleted says:

    Tragically Rincon, the answer from the conservative leaders is yes to most if not all of the questions you asked.

    Sickening but true.

  19. Athos says:

    Rinny, would it be fair to say that you feel the Moral and God-fearing strength our founding fathers embodied, approaches any of our leaders today? Or even our society as a whole?
    You claim we can’t know the minds of our founding fathers but what would those men say if they saw the society we live in today?
    Care to hazard a guess?

    I realize that you new breed of liberals don’t handle logical thinking very well but do you really think our founding fathers would approve of the government we now have?

  20. Barbara says:

    “Whatever we think the Founding Fathers wanted is speculation and almost always arguable. If it isn’t in print, it doesn’t exist.”

    The written record does exist and couldn’t be more clear. You just choose to ignore it because it doesn’t fit your narrative.

  21. deleted says:

    Fascinating reading. From a “liberty” organization. Long, uses lots of big words, but very interesting. Meticulously footnoted.

    “Despite the prodigious efforts of biographers, analysts, and commentators over the decades, James Madison still remains an enigma. While he is widely hailed as the “father” of the Philadelphia Constitution, we find that he was, almost from the outset of its operations, schizophrenic about the nature of the political union it fashioned. To be more exact, his views or positions relating to the proper relationship between the state and national governments and their respective spheres of authority—that is, his posture towards issues that are subsumed today under the rubric “federalism” —shifted markedly during the course of his political career.1

    It is of course ignorant, in the truest meaning of the word, to pretend that any man, much less an intelligent one, maintains perfect rigidity in his views about most subjects such that any review of those well documented opinions can, over a lifetime, be “clear”.

    http://oll.libertyfund.org/pages/madison-and-federalism

  22. Athos says:

    One thing is crystal clear petey, you hate the idea of a self-governing people in a free America, prefering “Statism” or elitism.
    And of course there can be no Judeo Christian morality, because then you have to acknowledge there is a true God.
    So of course our founding fathers can’t have true principles according to you! It goes against your playbook, doesn’t it?

  23. deleted says:

    What’s clear is that you didn’t read the article.

    And conversate a little instead of rhetoricaling.

    Can’t you agree that peoples positions change on subjects? Which is really all I said.

    I don’t know anyone that maintains the same position on nearly any subject throughout the entirety of their lives unless they just don’t have any sense at all.

    So anyone claiming that Madison was consistent about his ideas is not only ignorant in the truest sense of the word (because he wasn’t and the article very thoroughly explained how and where) but their own ideas are inconsistent with human nature.

  24. Rincon says:

    “The written record does exist and couldn’t be more clear.” Sorry, Barbara. I didn’t make myself very clear. It’s a saying borrowed from contract law where the intentions of the people signing are normally far subordinate to the wording of the actual contract. A little arcane, I suppose.

  25. Bill says:

    Rincon, in interpreting law, the plain language is supposed to control. Only when the law is ambiguous is it proper for the judiciary to look at legislative intent. That is where the problem lies. Judges too often read things into law that require some pretty hard stretches. For instance, stating that while a specific “right” cannot be found, one would be judicially manufactured to exist rom the “penumbra” of other rights.

  26. Rincon says:

    I agree. A good case in point though, to illustrate the difficulties. This should look familiar: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    The words themselves state no limitation of any kind. Does that mean it is our right to posess any armament in existence? If so, then people should be allowed to possess shoulder fired missiles and to install machine gun nests and howitzers in their back yards. If not, then how far down should we take it? Are repeating pistols OK, but not machine guns? If we decide that say, shoulder fired missiles aren’t included in the right to bear arms, then how about machine guns? rifles? Pistols? Slingshots? Pea shooters? In theory, passing a more specific amendment would solve the problem, but getting 2/3 of our people or reps to vote against shoulder fired missiles may be problematical. Slippery slope and all of that.

  27. Bill says:

    I thought the opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), was an interesting opinion that discusses the history of the 2nd amendment and the points you raised.

  28. Rincon says:

    Thank you for the enlightening reference. The courts have sensibly determined that my howitzer is more than what is necessary to allow a “citizen’s militia”. More problematic are rapid fire rifles with large magazines and of course, cheap handguns readily available to any criminal or psychiatric case, as Conservatives advocate. It is disappointing that Conservative paranoia regarding governmental authority should trump these concerns. Even more disappointing is their head in the sand attitude regarding our murder rate, which is 3-10 times that of advanced nations. If controlling guns isn’t the answer, then what is? Its obviously not jail, since we incarcerate more people than just about any advanced country.

    I was thinking about whether to say advanced countries or other advanced countries. Since our murder rate, income equality, incarceration rate, infant mortality, and longevity is below the advanced nations, we might have to consider being included with the BRICS for some purposes. Maybe BRICUS.

  29. […] successor, Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, has taken up the cudgel, also calling for a constitutional amendment. “The U.S. Constitution puts democratic power in the […]

  30. deleted says:

    There isn’t much doubt that cities and states across the country are testing the ideas of restricting the power of government and reducing it.

    Two recent examples where Kansas’ governor has attempted to turn Kansas into a state the Koch Brothers would be right at home (oh wait, that is where they are from….what a coincidence) and Colorado Springs where the city was turned over to man not unlike the man that won an electoral victory in the last election.

    The story about the failure in Kansas is pretty well known, but I didn’t know the story about the failure of turning the lights off on the city government in Colorado Springs until I read this:

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/30/colorado-springs-libertarian-experiment-america-215313

  31. Steve says:

    Wow, Patrick, just wow.
    That article isn’t about reducing government power or even going in a Libertarian direction at all.

    It IS all about dictatorship VS collaborative discussion. Something you have a real problem understanding.

    “In 2011, Bach was swept into City Hall with nearly 60 percent of the vote. Not only did he win, but he arrived in office with powers no mayor of Colorado Springs had ever wielded. A ballot amendment approved by voters a year earlier had taken power away from the City Council and given it to the mayor. Now that mayor happened to be someone who felt that political compromise was a dirty word. Shortly after the election, two top council members asked Bach to give them a detailed weekly report just as the previous city manager had done. He said no. The mayor wouldn’t answer to anyone. The council, he indicated, would answer to him. And he showed that by taking on a major deal, the council was negotiating to rid itself of the local hospital.”

    If that doesn’t describe a dictator, nothing does.

    “Suthers believed there was a fundamental difference between business and government—no matter how strong the mayor’s office is, there are still a bunch of other elected officials who need a say. So Suthers’ first goal after getting elected was, he says, to improve his relationship with the City Council. He did that by scheduling two monthly catered lunch meetings, acquiescing to many of their requests for staff and resources and, in the minds of many, treating them like partners rather than combatants. “My predecessor sent over a budget on the day it was due and said, ‘Take it or leave it,’” Suthers says. “I’ve been doing this for a long time. … I didn’t wait until [the last minute] to tell [the council] what I was thinking.””

    Perfectly describes the very idea of a republic. Not a democracy. You see, the leader informs and accepts the opinions and thoughts of those being led.
    This is another concept you simply don’t get.

    Contrary to your beliefs, conservatives aren’t averse to taxes. Conservative simply want to see real benefits for the money spent.
    Dictators don’t like answering to subjects. Conservatives will be ready with answers or they will find them and get back to you with substantive information.
    “The ballot items were enormous statements of confidence,” says Chamber of Commerce Director Dirk Draper. “They showed that while the community is fiscally conservative, it’s not radically so. If you can find someone to explain it to where it makes sense, voters will allow it.”

    You peeps want us to give all our money to you and let you dole us out an allowance.
    Where you see reducing government, I see a dictator. Your worldview is distorted by your own bias.

    And, again, it appears you didn’t read to the end. (or comprehend what you read)

    “Despite Bach’s sandpapery reputation, many who used to spar with him are willing to give the former mayor credit today. Suthers says Bach’s extreme focus on the budget helped right the city financially, and his efforts helped set the stage for a revival of the airport. But most of all, what the leaders of Colorado Springs seem most thankful for is that one man’s turmoil begat another man’s harmony.

    “Steve was the ultimate change agent, and they usually have a short shelf life,” Bennett says. “If it weren’t for the lights going out, we might not have had Steve. And if it weren’t for Steve, we might not have John.”

    Governing is about calm, open discussion. Not the bias, segregation and prejudice found in today’s liberal establishment.
    You should re-read the article Patrick, this time with an open mind.

  32. deleted says:

    Course, the libertarian experiment began sometime in 2010 when conservatives started winning the argument (which wasn’t tough in a town full of conservatives who were fortunate to be located near one of the largest federal military institutions in the country) about slashing the gov’ment. By 2015, when the trumpian major was elected demanding even lower taxes and more cuts, the results were obvious; bad times, fewer jobs, bad reputation, really unhappy population.

    “COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Like many American cities, this one is strapped for cash. Tax collections here have fallen so far that the city has turned off one-third of its 24,512 street lights.

    But unlike many cities, this one is full of people who are eager for more government cutbacks.

    The town council has been bombarded with emails telling it to close community centers. Letters to the local newspaper call for shrinking the government”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303411604575168030083419748
    “Small government conservatives in the city of Colorado Springs began slashing government services and taxes earlier this year and show no sign of slowing down. Everything from trash collection to streetlights to police coverage have been phased out in the quest to get closer to the free market model espoused by libertarians such as novelist Ayn Rand. The changes have turned Colorado Springs into something like a city-sized experiment in just how small government can get. So when pundits debate the Colorado Springs experiment, they’re also debating the hard-line libertarian philosophy behind that experiment. Does drastically cutting services and taxes really work?”

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/04/can-a-town-survive-with-nearly-no-government/345980/

  33. deleted says:

    It’s gettng very interesting around the country in lots of places where conservatives have unleashed widespread tax cuts on their wealthy benefactors and cut the government spending.

    I wonder what the ultimate result will be?

  34. Steve says:

    Good question, Patrick.

    Just spitballin here;
    Who knows, maybe not enough people will care….what then?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s