WASHINGTON – On October 8, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky will speak before the Supreme Court in the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The suit claims that the law setting a limit to how much a single individual can donate in total to federal candidates, political parties and political action committees during an election cycle is an impediment to free speech and should be overturned. McConnell’s argument, however, is expected to go beyond the scope of the case, and to contend that not only should the limits be eliminated, but that a system should be constructed to allow money to be directly transferred into votes.
“This is about every American’s First Amendment rights of speech and association,” said McConnell in a statement. He claimed that a campaign contribution is “by far the most effective means of supporting a preferred candidate” and suggested that allowing campaign donations to be converted into actual votes would enable all Americans to better express their political will.
McConnell is also expected to argue that contribution limits restrict the rights of the candidates themselves because they have a right to associate with contributors “at varying levels of intensity.”
“As a successful political candidate myself, I can assure you that my life would be a lot simpler if I were allowed to simply wine and dine individuals who like me enough to give me a minimum of $100,000,” he explained. “It would save me so much time if I didn’t have to hang out among people who may only be willing to donate $50 or $100 to my campaign. They obvious don’t like me as much as the larger donors, and it makes me uncomfortable.”
Giving donors the ability to turn their contributions directly into votes, he argues, would go a long way towards leveling the playing field in National elections, which he believes is unfairly tilted towards poor people.
“Right now, the vote of someone who likes, say, a Democrat only enough to donate $25 is equal to the vote of someone who absolutely loves, say, a Republican to the point of donating upwards of $100,000,” he explained. “Does that sound fair to you? Shouldn’t the more enthusiastic Republican supporter’s vote count for more than the tepid Democratic supporter? If the Democrat really liked his guy, he’d donate more money!”
Not everyone, however, believes McConnell’s recommendation is sound. Some fear that combined with the recent rulings stating that corporations are people, allowing money to be converted into votes may lead to a system where large, autonomous, inhuman corporations pay to install candidates who will do their bidding. McConnell, however, sees this as a feature, not a bug, of his proposal.
“You don’t have to take a corporation to dinner,” he says. “You just have to vote the way their emails tell you to vote. It’s so much simpler. Personally, the less time I spend hanging out with actual people, the better I can serve my constituents.”