Halsey Frank noted that speech is essential to democracy because people need information. I completely agree. However, when he asserts that money is essential to speech he seems to be equating speech with advertising. Unfortunately, the advertising of corporations, unions, and the wealthy is so loud that it is drowning out the voices of those with less money and preventing us from hearing the speech of individuals.

There is yet another reason why our democracy requires the regulation of campaign financing. Without regulation, representatives must spend more time listening to those with money than to the voices of their own constituents. The speech of corporations and the wealthy is not “free.” It is purchased at the price of favors that are often not in the public interest.

Corporations are legal fictions to which we grant charters. Although many corporations are owned by people, and these people may, theoretically, vote to influence a corporation’s communication policy, this does not give corporations the rights meant for individuals.

Yes, people are different and some are more wealthy than others. When there are no restrictions on the amount of money that can be spent to influence an election it not only “may seem undemocratic,” it is undemocratic. Just as we need to regulate financial markets to enable a free market for goods, we need to be able to regulate the advertising market so that all ideas may be heard. At the moment, the only way to do this is to amend the Constitution.

Joseph de Rivera

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