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ISSUE 117 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/19/2004

Money talks in ads

By Megan Sutherland
Contributing Writer


Friday, March 19, 2004

Recently, the Republican National Committee (RNC) sent notices to many of the nations television stations and informed them that airing anti-Bush ads funded by the Moveon.org Voter Fund was illegal. The stations were instructed to refrain from any further infractions of the law. Moveon.org is a liberal website, self-described as a catalyst for a new kind of grassroots involvement, supporting busy but concerned citizens in finding their political voice. The RNC claims that the use of such funds in ads intended to promote or oppose a candidate are in violation of campaign finance reform laws. Moveon.org has refuted these claims, insisting that money raised by the group comes from individual donors, not corporations. Move on states that this money is specifically allowed, by law, to be used to persuade the political process through advertisements. The campaign finance laws concerning soft money exist to prevent corporations or unions from [taking] political action without the consent of their members or shareholders, so that the influence of these groups on elections does not necessarily comport with the actual views of the individuals who comprise these organizations, according to President Bush. Moveon.org says that the $10 million they plan on spending on the campaign was raised specifically for advertisements, and that there were approximately 160,000 donors (about $60 per person). It is true that American politics have become a monetary contest. If you have money, you can afford to place ads in newspapers, on the radio, and on television, thus wielding more influence than a candidate who cannot afford to pay for such ads. Large corporations with billions of dollars to their credit can push their issues to politicians, while the less wealthy have little or no say.

No one likes the idea of money enabling someone to attain office or have their special interests protected. With a capitalistic market, our political system is already invested in such means, which can result in heavy corruption. It is an appropriate use of the law to prevent the corruption of the political process. The entire point of democracy is that your vote is your power. The vote of a McDonalds employee counts just as much as the CEO of Nikes does. That aside, in the case of Moveon.org and President Bush, the circumstances are different. Why should it be wrong for individual citizens to choose to spend their money in the manner they see fit? Shouldnt people, independent of specific political parties, who wish to create their own groups and pool their resources to put ads on the air, be able to do so? There is a major difference between bribing politicians to get them to push particular issues and running ads to influence voters. Television is a separate realm: it is a medium that operates according to how much youre willing to spend to convey your message. It is a freedom of expression, and as long as all participants are willing and there is no attempt at slander, there should be no problem with people using their money as they see fit.


Staff Writer Megan Sutherland is a sophomore from The Woodlands, Tex. She majors in English and history.


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