Many trends in American politics and government today make me worry about the health of our representative democracy. These include the decline of Congress as a powerful, co-equal branch of government, the accumulation of power in the presidency and the impact of money on the overall political process.
Recently, the Supreme Court’s five-member majority declared that it’s unconstitutional to limit the aggregate amount an individual can give to candidates, political parties and political action committees. Campaign contributions amplify free speech, these justices maintain, and campaign finance laws violate the First Amendment: Any limit on the ability of individuals to contribute to candidates is a restraint of free speech. The only legitimate cause for the government to step in is to fight blatant, obvious corruption; it should not act to limit access and influence by well-to-do donors.
The result of this decision will almost certainly increase the impact of money on the political system.