Daily Caller: Fixing Politics By Force Won’t Work (In the News)

By Luke Wachob
The president is likely correct that more active and attentive voters would make it even harder than it currently is for politicians to betray their constituents’ interests in favor of the positions of financial supporters. Academic research shows that campaign contributions are less predictive of how politicians vote on bills than other factors (“Indicators of party, ideology, and district preferences account for most of the systematic variation in legislators’ roll call voting behavior”), and it stands to reason that more active voters would lead to politicians adhering more closely to voter preferences.
But must we address every issue in politics with more coercion? We are worried about candidates feeling indebted to supporters, so we force them to limit the size of the campaign contributions they can accept. We are worried about corrupt acts being hidden, so we force everyone who spends money speaking about candidates to report their activity to the government, even if all they do is mention a candidate’s name near an election. Now we are worried about slumping participation in politics (gee, I wonder what’s scaring them off), and the president has kind words for forcing everyone to vote.
It’s an awfully bleak worldview compared to the president’s own remarks in the State of the Union Address in January: “A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears. A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues and values, and principles and facts, rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives.”
If only. A politics where campaign contributions are restricted, political activity is surveilled, and voting is mandatory appeals quite a bit more to one’s basest fears than basic decency.

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.