This article appeared in the Independent Journal Review on August 1, 2017. Click here to view the original article.
By Dan Backer
August 1, 2017
For years, the Left has screamed that money and speech are not one and the same.
In 2010, President Obama claimed the Citizens United ruling—which protects your individual right of free speech when you exercise your right to associate as part of a membership group, corporation, or other entity—“strikes at democracy itself.” Not long after, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul declared: “While money is used to finance speech, money is not speech.”
Last year, Hillary Clinton promised a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and declared an anti-speech litmus test for Supreme Court appointments if she was elected. Thankfully, she wasn’t.
The Left isn’t wrong—money is not speech. It’s money. But you can’t have any meaningful speech without spending money. It is the oxygen fueling the fire of political speech. Regulating speech—and the money needed to convey ideas to the public—leaves America with less freedom, and worse off.
However, in a strange twist, the Left’s mind-numbing hatred of President Trump has led to a new, absurd position: Speech is money!
After Donald Trump Jr. met with Natalia Veselnitskaya—a Russian lawyer with connections to the Kremlin—to discuss potentially damaging information about Clinton, the Left lost their minds. The left-wing magazine Slate ranted “a crime has been committed” because Trump Jr. purportedly received a contribution “of value” from Veselnitskaya (e.g. gossip).
Vox suggested Trump Jr. broke campaign finance laws because “political campaigns regularly pay thousands of dollars to opposition researchers”—even though he personally did nothing of the kind. It’s a “criminal conspiracy,” claimed Cornell law professor Jens David Ohlin. Noah Bookbinder of the perennial campaign finance scold Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington also denounced Trump Jr.’s alleged solicitation of a “foreign campaign contribution.”
It’s all nonsense because Veselnitskaya’s act of speech—gossiping and sharing information—is simply not a contribution “of value.” No matter how far you torture the facts and the law, her speech is simply not the equivalent of money.
But the Left won’t let that stand in the way of a fundraising scam. Liberal “advocacy” groups Common Cause, Democracy 21, and the Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing Trump Jr. of soliciting and accepting a foreign contribution. Because he gossiped about Clinton.
The Left’s hypocrisy is stunning: Pre-Trump, “Money is not speech!” But now that it’s convenient, “Speech is money!” Because, well, Trump.
The Left’s solution is to regulate, regulate, regulate. By restricting what Trump Jr.—or any American—is allowed to hear and say, the Left strikes at the right of every American. It is a fundamental right of every American to speak with anyone they want about anything they want—including useless gossip about presidential politics. If only the Left can stop people from engaging in speech they don’t like, perhaps liberals can start winning elections again.