Opinion: “First, they came for the donor lists…”
Emboldened by the response to my piece last week, I put on my political theorist hat this weekend and penned another editorial that has now been published in The Daily Caller. Here’s an excerpt:
“Don’t we all have a right to know,” asks Obama campaign manager Jim Messina in a recent fundraising email, “exactly which corporations and individuals are spending millions in attack ads to influence elections – and what their agendas are?” While we should expect this type of rhetoric from bullies who think that the government should force workers to give up their right to a secret ballot in unionization proceedings, making it easier for Democratic supporters to rake new campaign funds from their peers’ paychecks, this is one of those times when “No” is a complete, forceful, and declarative sentence.
But in fairness to Messina, to whom I wish a swift and humiliating trip to the unemployment line this November, we should (for a moment) take his claim at face value. We should ask, “Upon what moral principle” – we’re talking about rights, after all – “is this ‘right to know’ predicated?”
Madison also wrote that the only two ways to deal with factions are to either destroy “the liberty which is essential to [their] existence” or to foist upon “every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.” Are Messina and the president prepared to openly commit to the former in an election year? In a way, yes: David Axelrod recently promised Obama supporters that, in a second term, the president would move to effectively repeal First Amendment rights affirmed by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC. The casual, shallow use of moral language in fundraising appeals suggests the campaign is at least committed to the latter of Madison’s alternatives. But our question is still unanswered: Upon what moral principle is this ‘right to know’ predicated?
I yearn for a full-throated defense of this position, yet my liberal friends routinely fail to provide me with one.
You can read the rest here.
I would very much appreciate your help sharing this piece on your social networks and blogs (critiques welcome!), with your colleagues and other interested parties — but ultimately, I just hope you read it and find it useful!