Super PACs, bullies and Citizens United
Since 2010, the political left has been strongly opposed to the Supreme Court decision of Citizens United.
Admittedly, the content of
the decision has put the left into a complex dilemma. On one hand there is the value of preserving the First Amendment liberty of free speech. On the other hand there is the value of promoting democratic unity and preventing abusive behavior. Both these values were pitted against each other in Citizens United.
One of the most notable results of Citizens United is the emergence of Super PACs. Super PACs not only allowed unlimited contributions to political speech but also provided shelter for individuals to make offensive speech. Super PACs are not required to disclose their donors, providing a shelter for individuals to make political speech without having to take personal credit for the speech.
Personally, I believe unlimited contributions are a much smaller issue than the issue of sheltering. Unlimited contributions are indicative of a person's motives for contributing, but sheltering prevents the public from analyzing the motives of the person making the contribution.
Through sheltering, individuals are permitted to make political speech free of the burden of responsibility. With personal reputation being protected from scrutiny there is an increase in offensive, destructive, and fear based speech. It is legally protected bullying. For an example, look at comments posted to online news articles by individuals writing under aliases.
Lack of decorum is the biggest threat to American democracy as we know it. Democracy is government by every citizen of the nation, united to govern as a whole. However, democracy is lost when individuals become alienated from participating in government. As individuals take a smaller role in governance, we become weaker as a nation. We no longer operate at our maximum potential as individuals are no longer willing to contribute their ideas to resolve the problems of the nation. Thus we see the detriment caused from acts of bullying. Bullying alienates people from participating.
For this reason, many on the political left have found the results of Citizens United morally objectionable. There is nothing preventing the left from organizing Super PACs and utilizing the negative benefits. However, the Super PACs started for left leaning purposes continuously fail to raise sufficient funds because the left refuses to contribute on moral grounds. The left believes that it is morally wrong to bully and that we should not protect bullies by letting them hide behind straw men. If offensive speech must be tolerated, then those utilizing offensive speech should take credit.
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