Sunday, June 24, 2012

In Praise of Alida Messinger's Millions

The bored dilettante ex-wife of bored dilettante Gov. Mark Dayton recently wrote a $500,000 personal check to a political pac supporting democratic women in elected office, the usual litmus tests applying, of course. Much was made of this by those on the right, given the endless hypocrisy of the progressive left when it comes to money in politics. Mostly the local left was silent on Twitter and MC saw no blogging about what would otherwise appear to the sanctimonious set as an egregious example of why suffocating government regulation of speech is essential to what they conceive of as a fair and open political system. It remains an astonishing truth that the left never learns from experience or mistake; how else to explain their continued support for the failed Obama presidency?

At any rate, Alida Rockefeller Dayton Messinger's contribution is to be praised, not clucked about or worried over. The professional left,  to quote Robert Gibbs, will faint when MC claims that money in politics is not a problem. Post-Watergate the group think was that money indeed was very much a corrosive element in politics and the First Amendment could be compromised because of good intentions. It's ever thus on the left. And yet there is no empirical evidence that the cloying web of regulations (Minnesota, typically, is ridiculous in its micro-managing of political speech) has had any positive effect on our political discourse or system. Of course, Obama declined to accept public funding in 2008 and the usual do-gooders were of a piece in their silence. The right consistently critiques itself far more than the left, another indication of the strength of its ideas.

Liberalism is profoundly simple: a few axioms and off you go. Trim and adjust as needed but never actually modify your thinking. This brings to mind what Talleyrand is said to have remarked of the Bourbon restoration: "they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing."

Money in politics is, after abortion, the best example of this. Without intentionally trying to do much violence to their positions, liberals mindlessly believe that more money in politics is very bad (please ignore the lack of evidence on this point) and hence they are on the side of the good, the true and the beautiful in trying to limit it. Except they are not.

Money does not buy political office. Ask Governor Whitman or Senator Fiorina. Or does it? Someone check with Gov. Dayton. MC jests.

Those on the right, generally speaking, do not share the low opinion of the voter that, generally speaking, those on the left hold. They are not robots or idiots, swayed like so many consumers of products advertized on television. Again, speaking generally, people value their vote and make the best decision possible. Sometimes this works for republicans, other times for democrats. But kindly spare us the insufferable meddlers who insist they know best how to fashion the type of system in which the rest of us should exercise our political freedoms.  Alarmingly, and all too often unrealized by them, their approaches resemble an incumbent protection racket. Ranked choice voting, which allowed the loathsome Dave Thune to remain on the St. Paul City Council, is but one example of their misguided foolishness.

Naturally, a distinction has to be made: contributions to candidates are still limited in ways that donations to causes are not. Messinger could not have given half a million dollars to Mark Dayton's campaign outright. That's fine; unlimited campaign donations raise questions in ways that funding issue based causes simply do not.

MC, however, wants to hear nothing more from its friends on the left about ALEC, the Koch brothers or Citizens United.

The disclosure canard is another failed response to the mistaken idea that money in politics is a problem. People have a right to donate to the causes of their choice without forced disclosure designed to do nothing more than inhibit that right in the first instance. Who funds the deeply unrespected Common Cause Minnesota? No one knows because it does not have to disclose. Nor should it. Nor should any other group if it does not wish to if allowed by law. Those laws should not be changed by those who wish to silence others under the rubric of transparency.

The left has long since lost its moral bearing from years past. Not so long ago it would be repulsed at judging people by race. Now it insists on such as a matter of getting past race. It would support the defenseless; now it insists the humanity of such is but a personal choice. Not so long ago it would see government dependence as bondage, a form of prison. Now it sees such as the very role of government and is annoyed with the backlash from such indentured servitude. They know better, you see.

In 1958 the state of Alabama attempted to force the NAACP to disclose its members and donors. Is there any question where the left would have been then? Now, however, it would appear that they would take a different approach. Not out of principle but out of expediency. Expeditious but unprincipled is a handy summary of the current day left.

Senator Mitch McConnell recently wrote in the Washington Post about such matters. Click here to read it.

Alida Messinger's right to write a check of any amount to any cause she pleases should be supported by those in both parties who understand both the constitutional rights in play and the stakes involved. The reaction of silence and embarrassment on the left shows just how much work remains to be done.

Hat tip to Tony Sutton for having created, circa 2010, the eternal phrase "bored dilettante."

No comments: