USA Today‘s story (4/3/14) on the Supreme Court’s eliminating cumulative campaign contribution limits in the McCutcheon decision began with this:
The way the Supreme Court sees it, Americans’ free speech rights are more important than stopping US elections from becoming ever more expensive.
Well, no–the point of contribution limits isn’t to make elections cheaper; it’s to limit the ability of the very wealthy to dominate politics. Framing the issue as a choice between the First Amendment and frugality is a good way to put a thumb on the scale. (To be fair, the article goes on to acknowledge that the decision will “boost the influence of money in politics and the power of wealthy donors and party leaders.”)
Likewise, the Chicago Tribune (4/3/14) distorted the concerns of advocates of limits on contributions when it editorialized:
Election years might be less noisy or irritating if less money were spent by people who want to spread a message.
The worry is not that elections will be more “noisy” or “irritating”–it’s that our society will be more oligarchic.