Karl Rove (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
Updated: May 9, 2014 6:16AM
Democrats and their left-wing, government-knows-best allies are up in arms over the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last week weakening Washington’s control over political speech. The hysterical roar of their outrage is a gauge of how badly they fear their ideas will do under the rigorous examination that full and unfettered debate allows.
The court ruled unconstitutional limits on how many candidates and political committees to whom an individual could contribute money.
Various Democrats and liberals whipped themselves into a frenzy, shrieking that the super rich would henceforth buy our elections.
Perhaps it’s time to let a little dispassionate history intrude into their delirium. For example, Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson threw nearly $100 million into the 2012 campaign behind Republican presidential candidates. President Barack Obama won re-election handily.
Organizations associated with GOP strategist Karl Rove poured even more money into 2012 races, by one estimate up to $390 million. That binge yielded such poor results that the liberal Center for Media and Democracy said the money was “largely wasted” and called Rove the “biggest loser” in the elections. The Sunlight Foundation calculated that 1.29 percent of the $104 million spent by one Rove group, American Crossroads, backed a winning candidate.
Liberals attacking the court forget that the country once had a public financing system for presidential elections. It was killed in 2008 by: Obama. He had a big message of hope and change and concluded he needed the big bucks he could get from unrestricted fundraising, not the relatively small change of government funding, to get that message to the voters. Yes, he got help from a lot of small contributors but also plenty of dollars from the rich — like nearly $1 million from the investment bankers and political action committee of Goldman Sachs. By the logic of the supreme court’s critics, Obama bought the 2008 election. Nonsense. He was the better candidate and had a message that resonated with the voters, but he needed the resources to make sure the voters learned about him and his agenda.
Liberals resort to demonizing success and the money that comes with it, that is, provided it’s conservative or GOP cash. They are silent when billionaires George Soros, Michael Bloomberg or Tom Steyer channel millions to left-wing causes or candidates. But character assassination is the order of the day when conservatives like David and Charles Koch join in the political arena.
The Koch brothers support an organization that funds ads attacking Democratic senators in several states running for re-election and away from their past support for Obamacare. The Koch millions would come to naught if the health care law were popular in those states, but it’s not.
If Democrats can’t win the battle of ideas, they smear the messenger, squealing that the Koch brothers want to end all regulation of corporations and cut taxes to virtually nothing. That’s the usual, slimy, left-wing slander for people advocating limited government — as the Founders did.
The truth about the court’s ruling is that it will redirect some funding to candidates and political parties. Campaign finance laws restricting contributions to politicians and parties only force the money to outside groups that don’t, and shouldn’t, have the full transparency required of parties and candidates. In its ruling last week, the high court reasonably concluded, “The government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.”