McCain/Feingold as Argument Against Democracy

Let me follow up on the above with a couple thoughts. Isn't the dim, manipulable nature of the voter a premise of McCain/Feingold-like legislation? It strikes me that it must be. One can only “buy” an election by running a ton of ads if the ads really work. But is this a problem that can really be allayed by banning certain means of manipulation? If people are dim and manipulable, then their opinions already likely reflect their dimness and history as victims of manipulation. How is it, then, that an opinion changed by an advertisement financed by “soft” money is somehow less authentic than an opinion changed because of social pressure or a sophistical argument from the mouth of one's sister at a family reunion? How do restrictions on well-financed mass speech do anything to change the picture about the legitimacy or democratic character of outcome?

12 thoughts on “McCain/Feingold as Argument Against Democracy”

  1. I was quite confused by your second-to-last sentence for a while, taking it to mean that you’d first move to Iowa city, where Kerry would work on and MFA, and then you’d also work on an MFA (exactly the same thing) but you’d do it from a different place (than Iowa City.) That seemed to not make any sense at all. After a minute I figured it out, though. Good luck w/ the move, though. I hope you get some cheap books at the liberty fund thing.

  2. Really enjoying your BHTV segments. But often you pause way too long — try to work on that. 😉
    P.S. Ditto on Matt’s comment.

  3. Kip, one thing you can do is just speed up the playback. Using itunes+ipod, for example, you can Convert To AAC, rename the files .m4b instead of .m4a, and then tell your ipod to play audiobooks Fast. I finally did this today after never having listened to podcasts because of a weird time-wasting phobia thing w.r.t. listening to spoken conversations; it’s great!
    See you in Michigan, Will! =)

  4. I’m not sure I agree with you regarding the T. Boone Pickens article. Even if his attempt to push through an energy policy change isn’t successful, a plan like it will almost certainly result. Specifically, energy policy is very likely to become greener over the next several years and wind energy producers will almost certainly benefit. I don’t like rent seeking and lobbyists any more than you do, but I don’t really feel like I can fault the man for having the financing to run a national public opinion campaign and the foresight to put his money this far ahead of the curve. So I guess what I’m wondering is: are you advocating a totally free market approach towards energy policy, or is there some other combination of subsidies, regulation and taxation that you’d prefer?
    Or to put it another way: maybe we should be thinking about investing in wind.

  5. “We will be so far from the Orange Line.”
    It’s obvious that the MFA is a front. You two are being sent as an advance team to supervise the building of the NAFTA Superhighway.

  6. I really enjoyed the interview with Prof. Prinz. I think one of the difficulties organized religion imposes on its believers is the requirement that they profess certain things to be immoral while simultaneously experiencing no emotional investment in the professed immorality.
    As Professor Prinz points out, without an emotional investment, a professed moral belief sounds hollow. As a result, religious followers come to interpret their own inability to really feel the Church’s proscriptions as a reflection of their own imperfections – something to work on, pray about, etc..
    By reversing the cause and effect of morality – first come the biblical proscriptions, then comes the duty to feel strongly about them – organized religion causes inarticulable feelings of guilt in those striving to be good adherents.

  7. I thought your discussion with Professor Prinz was fascinating. Listening to your Free Will podcasts and reading your blog has ignited an intense interest in philosophy and how it strives to interpret our beliefs, customs, and actions. Unfortunately I’m relatively unfamiliar with philosophy (major works, top thinkers, etc). Other then a 100 level survey course at my university I know nothing of the wider discipline. I have read Hayek, Mises, and a few other social philosophers extensively but I’m now looking to branch out further. Could you possible recommend a sort of starter kit of books and articles that would serve as a useful introduction? I would really appreciate it as your discussions have made learning these concepts appear all the more important. At least to me. Thanks!

    1. Ryan,
      The best place to start in moral philosophy, imho, is James Rachels’ “The Elements of Moral Philosophy.” It’s used as a textbook in many intro to ethics courses, for good reason.
      For slightly different (and more libertarian) takes in the same style, see Jan Narveson’s “Moral Matters” and David Shmidtz’ “Elements of Justice.”
      Also, the articles found in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy are both free and generally high quality (if a bit terse). Combined with Wikipedia, find a general topic or thinker who interests you and go from there.
      Also, if you like Hayek, read Ludwig Wittgenstein. They are like brothers from another mother (well, distant cousins), except Wittgenstein is a much better writer. Also: David Hume.

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