Citizen’s United and the End of Gridlock

Countering those who link the recent IRS scandal to the Citizen’s United ruling (because it allows for donor anonymity), Glenn Hubbard and Tim Kane see the scandal as just another chapter in a 40 year saga of the federal government’s “two-party duopoly.“ 

Imagine if the anonymous authors of the Federalist Papers had been similarly harassed when ratification of the Constitution was being debated.

One might question whether Publius be strained in the analogy. Be that as it may, Hubbard & Kane believe that ending this duopoly will end partisan gridlock.  And in fact the Citizen’s United Case offers the key to releasing the lock o' the grid: 

The public sector, like the private sector, needs entrepreneurs to challenge incumbent monopolists and thereby advance innovation…The Citizens United decision ended the duopoly control of campaign money by allowing new groups to make unlimited independent expenditures, a restoration of 1st Amendment rights.

Of course some will say that if key this be these sums that will come amount to picking the gridlock.

The authors summarize:

Those who think the lesson here is that America needs more campaign finance reform should check their history. When the National Committee for Impeachment was punished for running an anti-Nixon newspaper ad in 1972, monopoly politics won. For the next four decades, politics became increasingly partisan and polarized…Reducing political polarization is essential for a way forward on the policy gridlock that hampers economic growth. Harassment of political entrepreneurs discourages progress as much as it abuses power and trust. A free people should never require a government license for free speech.

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