George Will, of all people, plants a couple of barbs in the leviathan in this column.
On May 24, 1945, just 16 days after V-E Day, Britain’s socialists were sanguine. A Labour Party firebrand, Aneurin Bevan, anticipating the Labour victory that occurred five weeks later, said privation would be a thing of the past because essentials would soon be abundant: “This island is made mainly of coal and surrounded by fish. Only an organizing genius could produce a shortage of coal and fish at the same time.”
But socialism rose to the challenge. Two years later, the coal industry having been nationalized and food still rationed, coal and fish were scarce. There are indeed some things that only government can do.
The segue into campaign finance reform is well done:
The government, by its restrictions on the amounts and conduits of political giving, has turned something that exists in wild abundance in America — money — into a scarcity. As the postwar Labour government did with coal and fish.
Speaking of fish, as in barrels, shooting in, the punchline is of course the hypocrisy of candidates bleating against the exercise of free speech and free association, via campaign contributions, of their opponents, while doing exactly what they decry.
So now [Dean] says that unless he abandons public financing, his money will be gone when the primaries are over. Then Bush could spend to speak to the nation all summer, while he, Dean, would fall silent until after the Democratic convention, when he would get a fresh infusion of public money.
But notice that Dean’s argument concedes what campaign finance regulators deny — that money is tantamount to speech, and therefore limits on political money limit political speech.
The fact that political speech, the very adamantine core of the First Amendment guarantees of free speech and association, is very highly regulated, with the blessing (to date) of the Supreme Court, is perhaps the single most damning indictment of the utility of written Constitutions as a protector of individual rights.