First Amendment and Campaigns: More Campaign Speech Benefits Voters

January 1, 2018   •  By IFS Staff   •    •  

At the heart of the First Amendment is the assumption that Americans are best served by a full and free discussion of whom to elect. The American system of government sits atop the bedrock of the First Amendment. From the pamphleteering of the founding era to the Facebook ads of today, political campaigns have been premised upon free and open political speech. Without the freedom to speak to voters, talk about politics, associate with political parties, and publish political ideas and arguments, we would not have America as we know it.

Many see a fundamental tension between democracy and the First Amendment. They argue we must further regulate political campaigns and restrict their freedom of speech in order to promote a healthy and fair democracy. This argument is regularly employed in the name of ever greater campaign finance restrictions. This thinking is not just wrong, it is also backward. A robust First Amendment in campaigns leads to more participation, more candidates, and more speech. History and research have shown us that robust and full-throated campaigns lead to better government and a more vibrant democracy.

IFS Staff

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