Relaxing spending limits won’t hurt our democracy

Following the recent McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision, the view on the left is that now only billionaires have the clout to participate in elections, and most of these are right-wing ideologues. However, their conclusion that democracy is dead, as Mark Twain would say, is greatly exaggerated.

If all this were remotely true, after the 2010 Citizens United decision Mitt Romney would be our president today and Harry Reid in blessed retirement. There is no empirical evidence that relaxing spending limits for donors has adversely impacted our democratic process.

Democrats or liberals accounted for 55 percent of the wealth of the top 20 billionaires on the 2012 Forbes list, including the top three. One can assume that any such imagined “McCutcheon” donors would follow the same pattern.

Campaign spending limits imposed on citizens by politicians are something the latter have devised to protect themselves from their own baser instincts. Congress imposes no similar restrictions on itself while enjoying the many hidden benefits of incumbency.

Now comes the plaintiff, Shaun McCutcheon, who became interested in politics after watching manufacturing jobs being shipped overseas, and decided to do something about it. He wanted to encourage more participation in elections than the nine candidates allowed him by his beneficent government.

The Sierra Club predictably calls McCutcheon a “coal executive” and “big polluter.” He is in fact an electrical engineer and small businessman who employs highly skilled blue-collar workers. His successful and growing industrial controls company is something Western New York would jump at, and the rest of the country needs more of.

Malcolm Vanderburgh