Silence of the Peasants

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One of the most severe restrictions of political speech since the Sedition Act has passed the House of Representatives and is now on its way to the Senate. The bill, H.R. 2356, places caps on “soft money” – money donated to candidates by private parties who believe in them – and limits campaign advertisements during a period immediately preceding an election. In a recent committee meeting, Sen. Ernest Hollings of South Carolina repeated his oft-stated desire to see a constitutional amendment to empower Congress to control all spending on congressional campaigns. This extraordinarily dangerous idea reminds me of John Locke’s explanation that “A parliament, for instance, consisting of a body of representatives, chosen for a limited period to make laws and to grant money for public services, would forfeit its authority by making itself perpetual, or even prolonging its own duration; by nominating its own members; by accepting bribes; or subjecting itself to any kind of foreign influence. This would convert a parliament into a conclave or junto of self-created tools; and a state that has lost its regard to its own rights, so far as to submit to such a breach of trust in its rulers, is enslaved.”

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