On Campaign Finance: A Response

We learn early on in life that it is not what we know that puts us at risk, but what we do not know. It is what Steven Kay doesn't tell about campaign spending limits that threatens every citizen of Fayette County.

The half-page of newsprint the Herald-Leader made available to Mr. Kay to espouse his ideas about campaign finance would, if purchased, have cost some Four-Thousand-Five-Hundred Dollars [$4500.00]. It is an expensive proposition to disseminate ideas. Campaign contributions and spending is the required response to this truth. The more money spent in this endeavor the wider the dissemination of knowledge and the more cogent the knowledge distributed. It is puzzling that anyone in this "The Information Age" would wish to restrict the transport of ideas, particularly those ideas which affect our governance.

Mr. Kay, however, and those within the circles he travels, would do just that; through the vehicle of laws restricting the amount of money a candidate may spend for this necessary and exemplary purpose. Such legislation, if adopted, will bring with it two primary consequences Mr.Kay has failed to either consider or disclose. Restricting the quantity and quality of information provided voters in an election cycle, information about the candidate's person, philosophy, and vision must by normal operation of the restriction, produce a less informed voter base. Our Founders presciently understood an informed, educated population to be a necessary prerequisite for the proper operation of a republic.

The First Amendment, so jealousy guarded by the news media, is about the people's right and need to know, as well as the right of free expression. A less obvious, but even more disturbing consequence of campaign spending restrictions is the increased power it unavoidably places in the partisan press, a press that cannot be limited or restricted and that buys ink by the barrel and paper by the roll.

Does Mr. Kay really believe an information rationed population subject to inordinate influence by a partisan press , will produce good government? If so he is childishly naive. I suspect Mr. Kay believes no such thing; but rather considers the citizens of Fayette County unable to sift information from varied and diverse sources and make wise judgments and need be protected from the influence of anyone at all; save the elite journalists and their big brothers and nannies in the academy and chattering classes.

In the 21st Century, the control of information is the penultimate power. He who controls the information controls the agenda, he who controls the agenda controls the reality. Do we really want to place ourselves at the mercy of The Herald-Leader - or any other newspaper - to provide a divers and balanced quantity of information, untainted by partisanship? Limit campaign spending, and that is exactly what what we will get, to our enormous regret.