George Will nails campaign finance debate

Roberts asked the attorney general for an example to validate his assertion that campaign contributions from Vermont interest groups "often determine what positions candidates and officials take on issues." The attorney general answered that he could not offer an example, and said that "influence" would be more accurate than "determine." People trying to influence elections and government? Heaven forfend. In another clarification, sort of, the attorney general said the problem is "undue influence." So there.

Incessant allegations about the "appearance" of corruption are self-validating -- they create a public impression of corruption. Such allegations enable the reform movement to keep raising money and raising doubts about the sufficiency of government regulations, however numerous, of speech about government. Hence reformers have a powerful incentive to argue two propositions.

One is that corruption is so pervasive and subtle that it is invisible. They resemble the zealots who say proof of the vast sophistication of the conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy is the fact that no proof has been found.

Alternatively, reformers argue that corruption is entirely visible everywhere: It is called politics. If politician A votes in a way pleasing to contributor B -- particularly if B enjoyed "access" to A -- that shall be designated corruption. Never mind abundant research demonstrating that money usually moves toward politicians of particular behavior, rather than changing behavior. . . . .

One minor comment: as far as I know, my research is the only one that shows this last point, but I am glad that he made it.


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