Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform

Princeton University Press
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At a time when campaign finance reform is widely viewed as synonymous with cleaning up Washington and promoting political equality, Bradley Smith, a nationally recognized expert on campaign finance reform, argues that all restriction on campaign giving should be eliminated. In Unfree Speech, he presents a bold, convincing argument for the repeal of laws that regulate political spending and contributions, contending that they violate the right to free speech and ultimately diminish citizens' power.

Smith demonstrates that these laws, which often force ordinary people making modest contributions of cash or labor to register with the Federal Election Commission or various state agencies, fail to accomplish their stated objectives. In fact, they have worked to entrench incumbents in office, deaden campaign discourse, burden grassroots political activity with needless regulation, and distance Americans from an increasingly professional, detached political class. Rather than attempting to plug "loopholes" in campaign finance law or instituting taxpayer-financed campaigns, Smith proposes a return to core First Amendment values of free speech and an unfettered right to engage in political activity.

Smith finds that campaign contributions have little corrupting effect on the legislature and shows that an unrestrained system of contributions and spending actually enhances equality. More money, not less, is needed in the political system, Smith concludes. Unfree Speech draws upon constitutional law and historical research to explain why campaign finance regulation is doomed and to illustrate the potentially drastic costs of efforts to make it succeed. Whatever one thinks about the impact of money on electoral politics, no one should take a final stand without reading Smith's controversial and important arguments.

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About the author

Bradley A. Smith is Professor of Law at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio. As of May 2000, he has been serving a six-year term on the Federal Election Commission.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Feb 9, 2009
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781400824717
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Political Process / Campaigns & Elections
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The phenomenon of multimodality has, as Jewitt observes, generated interest "across many disciplines...against the backdrop of considerable social change." Contemporary societies are grappling with the social implications of the rapid increase in sophistication and range of multimodal practices, particularly within interactive digital media, so that the study of multimodality also becomes essential within an increasing range of practical domains. As a result of this increasing interest in multimodality, scholars, teachers and practitioners are on the one hand uncovering many different issues arising from its study, such as those of theory and methodology, while also exploring multimodality within an increasing range of domains.

Such an increase and range of interest in multimodality heralds the emergence of a distinct multimodal studies field: as both the mapping of a domain of enquiry, and as the site of the development of theories, descriptions and methodologies specific to and adapted for the study of multimodality. The present volume presents a range of works by an impressive international roster of contributors who both explore issues arising from the study of multimodality and explore the scope of this emerging field within specific domains of multimodal phenomena. Contributors aim to show that each individual work and works in general within multimodal studies represent a dialectic or complementarity between the exploration of issues of general significance to multimodal studies and the exploration of specific domains of multimodality; while characterizing specific works as tending to some degree towards one or other of these main areas of focus. Such a characterization is seen as part of a move towards the identification and thus development of a distinct field of multimodal studies.

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