Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Theologians comment on "money in politics"
As part of the Auburn Applied Theology series, a new collection of short essays, called Losing Faith in our Democracy, is out. The report is billed as a "theological critique of the role of money in American politics," and the contributions come from Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish theologians. I have not read the essays, though I quickly skimmed the ones by William Cavanaugh and Charlie Camosy, which I recommend.
My own view is that, generally speaking, the "there's too much money in politics" claim is more often asserted than established -- how much, after all, is the right amount?; that the urge to regulate campaign speech, spending, and contributions usually reveals and implements a goal of securing an advantage for one's preferred political outcomes; that complaints about the role of "corporations" or about the "fiction" that "corporations are people" too often fail to deal with the reality that not only big businesses but also charities, unions, tribes, churches, political parties, and interest groups also use the corporate form; and that claims about the "distorting" effects of money on politics usually pay insufficient attention to the many other ways in which the content and quantity of political speech and activism are shaped, inflated, dampened, and distorted. But, like the man says, "that's just me, I could be wrong." (I should not, by the way, that the above observations do not apply to the Cavanaugh and Camosy essays in the report, which raises important issues.)