Yesterday, in a predictable 5-4 alignment, the Supreme Court essentially declared that big corporations and rich individuals and (throw a sop to the liberal left) labor unions can spend spend spend as much as they like to support the campaigns of friendly politicians. So McCain-Feingold is as dead as John McCain's presidential aspirations. (See, "Justices, 5-4, Reject Corporate Spending Limit").
The majority's underlying logic rests upon the proposition that, fundamentally, corporations and wealthy individuals--and the lobbyists who work for them--are, with apologies to F. Scott Fitzgerald, no different from us; they just have more money.
As much as we abhor the excessive influence of money on politics, we find it hard to argue with that logic. And while progressive stomachs churn at the thought of Philip Morris spending freely to elect its candidates of choice, we take comfort in the fact that for every Rupert Murdoch, there is a George Soros. (OK, maybe not for EVERY Rupert Murdoch, but for a few of them.)
The problem, it seems to us, is not so much that rich individuals spend lavishly to protect their political interests. The problem is that they--and, by extension, everybody else--HAVE TO spend lavishly to protect their own political interests. If campaigns were publicly funded, candidates wouldn't have to sell themselves to the highest bidder. If media companies were required to provide equal time for all political viewpoints, then high-rolling corporations would be less inclined to spend huge amounts on media buys.
It has long been said that censorship is not the appropriate remedy for hateful speech; that, in fact, the remedy for hateful speech is MORE speech. Similarly, the remedy for excessive spending is not to restrict people's ability to spend, but to ensure that all people have the ability to have their voices heard--regardless of their bank account balances.