Author: Eddlem, Thomas R
Date published: November 8, 2010
The word has been handed down, from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow all the way up to President Barack Obama. Political speech that isn't reported to the federal government is a "threat to our democracy," in the words of President Obama. The Democratic National Committee has released a television ad accusing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of diverting foreign members' dues toward political ads in the United States.
Yet the history of the American Republic reveals that the Founding Fathers not only supported anonymous political writing and speech by enacting the First Amendment, they regularly engaged in anonymous political speech themselves. Anonymous political speech is as American as the anonymously written Federalist Papers, which convinced Americans to adopt our Constitution. Or1 for that matter, the Anti-Federalist Papers^ some of which were written by Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee.
Political "progressives" are engaging in a coordinated attack against this constitutionally protected form of free speech. MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow, interviewing the candidates for Oregon's 4th Congressional District, noted that Concerned Taxpayers of America funded $150,000 in television commercials supporting the Republican challenger in the race, Dr. Art Robinson. In advance of interviewing the incumbent Democrat Pete DeFazio, Maddow opined that anonymous television advertisements that express political opinions were:
Money-laundering, that's what it is, to take over the Congress of the United States of America. There is no ceiling on what you can spend. This is the way the elections are running right now.... And this, this is the context in which every individual American citizen of average, mediate, moderate or extreme means every American in the country is deciding whether or not it's a good idea to donate 25 bucks to their chosen candidate to try to make a humansized difference in this year's elections. What do you think your odds are of making a difference, a human-sized difference, as a regular human, a regular citizen if this is the landscape in which our elections get decided now? . . . You don't stand a chance.
What Maddow was describing is not elections but free political speech, the kind of speech the First Amendment was specifically written to protect. The First Amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech or of the press." Maddow assumes that the American people are mindless morons who will do the bidding of whatever the anonymous voices on the television tell them, and that an individual with a powerful message can never obtain a large authence through the Internet. Of course, the biggest of all money influences in the political campaign is working against Robinson: federal handouts. Federal transfer payments to farmers, the poor, retired, union highway workers, state workers, local school officiais, all are geared toward the age-old election strategy of "tax, spend, and elect" first perfected during Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal."
Maddow pressed Robinson: "Does the fact that the donations to this group are anonymous, does that bother you at all, just as an American? I mean, if you get elected in part, because this spending and then you find out it's from criminals or foreign interests or communists or something, wouldn't that bother you?"
The only wonder in Maddow's statement is why she left out that they could also be "baby-killers" and "wife-beaters." After all, the anonymous donors are backing a Republican, which in Maddow's worldview is a rough moral equivalent.
Days after the Maddow clash with Robinson, President Obama toid the authence at a Philadelphia rally:
Thanks to a Supreme Court decision called Citizens United, they are being helped along this year by special interest groups that are spending unlimited amounts of money on attack ads ... just attacking people without ever disclosing who's behind all diese attack ads. You don't know. It could be the oil industry. It could be the insurance industry. It could even be foreign-owned corporations. You don't know because they don't have to disclose. Now, that's not just a threat to Democrats - that's a threat to our democracy.
Of course, anonymous political speech is not a threat to our system of government. To the contrary, our political system is a direct by-product of anonymous political speech. Samuel Adams wrote anonymously almost constantly, and his anonymous writings as "Vtndex" were a prime cause of the American Revolution. America is an independent nation in large part due to anonymous political speech.