Free speech or corrupted democracy?

The blogosphere has exploded this morning over the decision by the Supreme Court to, in a simplistic-layman’s explanation, do away with limits on how much corporations, labor unions or advocacy organizations can spend in their support of an individual candidate for a federal office.

I do not have anything relevant to add to the reaction except this. Five years ago, there was a minor blog-related controversy about the Federal Election Commission applying the campaign finance law to bloggers. On this blog, I immediately dismissed it as a non-controversy, and it proved not to be.

Part of the suggested faux-controversy back then was the notion of bloggers endorsing candidates using company equipment. Let’s say, I as a small business owner, used my work computer to blog about my support for a candidate. Is that a corporate campaign “in-kind” support worth some specific dollar amount? My common-sense logic response did not hinge on the law — it hinged on the knowledge gained by my working in a congressional office for three years and on behalf of large and powerful advocacy associations for 20 years: No candidate from either side of the aisle is going to go after a small business owner or union organizer who wants to blog an endorsement for them.

I think the “Obama way” of collecting massive amounts of campaign support at the grassroots level is the best kind of finance reform I’ve seen in my life. However, I also recognize that if there are no limits on what people, companies, unions or organizations can spend in supporting a candidate, then, well, power corrupts and absolute power…