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Senate Democrats recently tried to push through a constitutional amendment that would have repealed free speech protections in the First Amendment, making Congress the sole arbiter of what is and isn't political speech. Thankfully, this effort, backed by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) failed to get the two-thirds needed for a constitutional majority, killing the proposed amendment for the remainder of the 113th Congress.
Though this effort failed, there stands a good chance that Democrats will, at some point down the road, launch another attempt to repeal the First Amendment, and it will again come under the guise of the Orwellian phrase "campaign finance reform." This phrase may sound nice, but the consequence, as George Will explains in a new video, is the silencing of political speech.
"We Americans are disposed to think that the word 'reform' is a synonym for 'improvement.' But what is called 'campaign finance reform' is nothing less than a frontal assault on the first, the most fundamental of our freedoms -- the freedom to speak our mind and to participate in politics," says Will, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. "This assault is always conducted stealthily by people who pretend that they only want to regulate money, not speech. They say they are only concerned about the quantity of money in politics."
"You must remember this: People who say there is too much money in politics are necessarily saying three very sinister things. First, they're saying there is too much political speech. Second, they are saying that they know just the right amount of political speech. And third, they are saying that government should enforce the limits they want on the amount of political speech. That is, the government should regulate speech about the government," Will adds.
Despite the feel-good rhetoric Americans so frequently hear from so-called "campaign finance reformers," these efforts aren't about the presence of money in politics, but rather incumbent protection. Campaign finance laws are written by politicians to insulate themselves against criticism and accountability from constituents back home at the expense of one of our most cherished civil liberties.