To be sure, many Americans of good faith bemoan the amount of money spent on campaign contributions and political speech. But if you don’t like big money in politics, then you should oppose big government in our lives. Because the former is a necessary consequence of the latter. When government grows larger, when regulators pick more and more economic winners and losers, participation in the political process ceases to be merely a citizen’s prerogative—it becomes a human necessity. This is the inevitable result of a government that would be unrecognizable to our Founders. See, e.g., NFIB v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. 519 (2012).
So if there is too much money in politics, it’s because there’s too much government. The size and scope of government makes such spending essential. See, e.g., EMILY’s List v. FEC, 581 F.3d 1, 33 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (Brown, J., concurring) (“The more power is at stake, the more money will be used to shield, deflect, or co-opt it. So long as the government can take and redistribute a man’s livelihood, there will always be money in politics.”).
But whatever size government we choose, the Constitution requires that it comply with our cherished First Amendment right to speak and to participate in our own governance. If we’re going to ask taxpayers to devote a substantial percentage of their hard-earned income to fund the innumerable activities of federal, state, and local government, we should at the very least allow citizens to spend a fraction of that amount to speak out about how the government should spend their money.
H/T Josh Blackman via Twitter