CPU Debate: Resolved: Citizens United vs. FEC Should Be OverturnedThe final CUCR/CU Dems debate of the year is upon us. If you were too held up in Butler (boo) to not treat yourself to a study break (yay), then the Cub Pub has got you covered. The debate was entertaining as always (the Cub Pub wouldn’t expect any less). Jump into the discussion below.
The Debaters: From the Dems we have Brit Byrd CC’14, and Eric Wimer (CC’16) and representing CUCR are Kate Christensen (BC’14) and Nashoba Santhanam (CC’12).
8:13: Dems won the toss up so they go first. The opening statements were nothing out of the ordinary (don’t worry, they were just warming up). Both sides thanked those who attended and then launched into supporting their own sides. Dems argued against Citizens United and Kate Christensen from the CUCR argued for it, saying that it allows for collective action by citizens.
8:19: The first question goes to the Dems. CPU moderator Ming Ming Feng asks if the Supreme Court decision simply allows corporations to act like as if they were citizens? The Dems argue that it isn’t the case. Individuals are capped at $2,500 but corporations are allowed to far surpass this. That means that cooperations are allowed to speak louder.
8:24: The Republicans retort, pointing out that Citizens United applies to unions too. It also solves a collective action problem among citizens who would want to effectively pool their resources. CUCR continues by saying that the $2,500 limit is to candidates and that if the supreme court decision set such a dangerous precedent, why didn’t we see it in the 2012 election? The amount of this most recent election agrees with currant projections of upward campaign expediter trends (as it has been since the 70′s). The Dems rebuttal, saying the sample size is too small to say conclusively.
8:29: The next question is for the Republicans: does citizens united turn politics into a rich man’s game. Of course, since the Magna Carta politics has always been a rich man’s game, but the republicans are nice enough to answer the question best they can. CUCR argues that their whole point is that Citizen’s United is not meant to empower the rich in politics. Dems argue that the system allowed Newt Gingrich’s campaign to exist far past it’s expiration date via campaign donations from Sheldon Adelson.
8:33: Kate mentions the term “trickle down” and everyone laughs. At least we’re being honest.
8:36: Now everyone is arguing about Newt Gingrich. The panel takes a break from bashing Newt to talk about the worth of speech. Nashoba Santhanam has a moving moment were he argues that some people are allowed more speech without possessing more money (newspaper columnists, etc). No one’s speech should be seen as inherently superior to anyone else’s, and everyone should have the ability to have their speech be heard.
8:41: Dems go on to argue that Citizen’s United equates free speech with money, which means that the haves have more free speech than the have nots. The conservation breaks down into arguing over political books and movies (such as the Hilary movie, etc). The arguement reaches a crescendo when Nashoba argues that “it’s hard to write a book” where one of the Dems responds “my friend’s writing a book, do you want to meet him?”
8:48: Final question for the republicans: What would republicans do if Citizen’s United was overturned? What if shareholders or workers, etc, didn’t approve of the way that a company used it’s money for political campaigns. Nashoba argues that someone will always disagree with these sorts of decisions. If they disliked the company’s donation decisions so much they would just sell their shares.
8:52: Nashoba has quickly become the MVP of this debate. In a discussion about Superpacs he argues that they don’t actually skew elections or “buy votes” instead bring up important/interesting points to the forefront. He brings up fracking, where the lobbying for hydrofracking brought the issue up to the public, who reacted negatively. The Dems try to argue but run out of time as we head towards questions from the audience.
8:55: An audience member asks the republicans who would support this legislation other than affluent white men. Kate responds, pointing to herself and Nashoba: “Not a man, and not white!” Zing.
8:58: An audience member asks if the amount of money put down for the candidates is shown to not effect elections,would the supreme court decision be changed? . Unfortunately the panel doesn’t really know how to this. Nashoba eventually settles on arguing that the Federalist papers lays down a philosophy that the majority view in this nation would not always be the one expressed.
9:06: The final remarks are being made, with the Republicans going first. Nashoba goes out strong, arguing that over the course of the debate CUCR has made several points over the democrats. Ashowba argues that Americans are smart enough not to be swayed by political ads, and Super Pacs and the like only bring up issues to the American public. “In the end the Michael Bloombergs will still be Billionaires, and they’ll still probably win”.
9:11: The Dems retort in their closing, saying that they’re pleased that they agreed on the value of speech. However they believe the the CUCR point of view starts contradicting itself when it says that Americans can ignore these ads but the Pacs empower individuals acting collectively.
9:15: And another debate is done. Yay! Go out and study (boo)!