Expression vs. equality: the politics of campaign finance reform
In Expression vs. Equality, J. Tobin Grant and Thomas J. Rudolph argue that although public opinion plays a vital role in judicial rulings on the legalities of various finance reform options, political scientists have yet to realize fully the complexities and nuances of public attitudes toward campaign financing. The issue of campaign finance reform exposes a real conflict between the core democratic values of equality and expression. Economic inequalities, reformers argue, allow certain groups and individuals to exert undue influence in the political process, thereby threatening the democratic value of political equality. Opponents tend to frame the issue as a question of free speech: restrictions on campaign contributions are viewed as a threat to the democratic value of political expression. In the context of campaign finance, how do committed Americans rank the importance of equality and expression? How do they resolve the conflict between these competing democratic values? The answers to these questions, say the authors, depend heavily on whose influence and whose rights are perceived to be at stake. Using a series of unique experiments embedded in a national survey of the American electorate, they find that citizens' commitment to the values of expression and equality in the campaign finance system is strongly influenced by their feelings or affect toward those whose rights and influence are perceived to be at stake. Freedom of speech is more highly valued in contexts where the respondent agrees with the issue in question; equity, on the other hand, is more highly valued when the respondent disagrees with the issue. These findings have implications not only for the continuingpublic debate over campaign finance reform, but also for our understanding of how citizens make tradeoffs between competing democratic values.
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amendment attitudes toward campaign attitudes toward group BCRA believe Buckley campaign finance attitudes Campaign Finance Knowledge campaign finance reform campaign finance system chapter coefficients concern for group deregulatory reform Determinants of Support disagree disliked groups elite equal voice frame experimental conditions Federal Election Commission gay rights groups group affect group influence group referent group rights group-centric effects individuals issue frames issue of campaign issue salience John McCain labor unions least-liked condition least-liked group least-liked interest group money in politics most-liked condition most-liked group National Rifle Association Nelson ordered probit Piereson Political Efficacy political equality political process political speech political tolerance pro-choice groups pro-life groups public opinion reform proposals Republicans respondents rights and group rights and influence role of money salience of campaign soft money subsidized reform support for campaign support for group support for reform support for regulatory tobacco lobby top priority trust in government types of reform