The Instigator
Con (against)
2 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
3 Points

Use of Money is a form of Free Speech, therefore no Campaign Finance Reform

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Started: 1/28/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,030 times Debate No: 20718
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




I am Pro for Campaign Finance Reform. Plus, use of money is not a form of free speech. Round 1 is acceptance, Round 2 main arguments, and Round 3 rebuttals and closing.


I accept this debate challenge, and also feel a slight need to give a sponser plug to let the readers know this debate is part of DDO member Ron-Paul's 8 person debate tournament.
Debate Round No. 1


This is a subject I haven't debated on before, but I'll try it.

C1: Money is a medium of exchange

Money is not a form of speech. Money is an object. Therefore, it is a form of property, as a medium of exchange. Spending this money is utilizing your purchasing power. Therefore, a limit of purchasing power in Campaign Finance Reform would be limiting donations to political candidates. A example of a limit of free speech in Campaigning would be limiting the amount of airtime a candidate can voice with political advertisements on.

C2: Corporations Should Have Limited Role in Campaigns

Our nations should not be effectively guided by the interests of corporations. Many large companies that rake in billions of dollars could pour their funds into a politician's campaign, which would have numerous implications, including:

  • Making fringe candidates less likely to succeed
  • Making grassroots funding insignificant
  • Making national policy become corporate interest
  • Making the America become Corporate America

Fringe Candidates

Fringe candidates are considered candidates that are not mainstream, or not widely known. With no corporate donations, fringe candidates can act as catalysts of change that can possibly allow them to win. However, with corporate donations, fringe candidates have a lower chance of succeeding, since they would (fringe candidates) be even more outspent.

Corporations with no limits is Corrupt

Since currently there are no limits with spending with campaign finance laws, [1] corporations are allowed to donate unlimited amounts of funds to a politician's campaign. These actions do not even have to hurt corporation's profits by a wide margin.

Consider this example: In 2008 Barack Obama raised roughly $750 million dollars. Compare this to the profits of a single company, for example ExxonMobil in 2008, had $45 billion dollars in profit. [2] This is very dangerous to a political system of a nation.

Consider this example. Obama raises about the same in 2012 as he did in 2008, about $750 million dollars, about 1/2 of it from internet donations, which is a truly democratic way to run a campaign. [3] Then, let's say that Newt Gingrich is selected as the GOP nominee. Since he has a few positions that are popular among the rich, notably the 0% Capital Gains and Dividends taxes and signifantly lowering the corporate tax rate, Corporate America would of found their guy. With corporate profits at record highs at over $1.6 TRILLION dollars, [4] corporations would be able to fund Newt Gingrich's campaign by a large amount. If just 1% of corporate profits were donated, this is a total of $16 billion given to Gingrich's campaign. Obama's, which is funded by more grassroot approaches, is outspent by over 21 times. This is not democracy. That is plutocracy. Then, if Gingrich was elected president, many "free market, small government" policies would be implemented. That would be mostly at the expense of the public. So, corporate interests would be ahead of national policies. This is unjust and corrupt to the highest extent of the word.

Money is not speech

Corporations are property, not persons. Money is a medium of exchange, not
speech. Speech is not an item, but an individualized human expression of
ideas or information not dependent on any exchange. [5]

With much money in a politician's campaign, a campaign has much
purchasing power, not speech itself. With much more money, this equates into much more power to communicate ideas. With the interent or other forms of media such as the radio or television, the media takes the role as messenger. The media replicates the politician's message in a commercial manner. Then, the media gets money in return with payments. However, they are getting paid for repeating the politician's original idea, not added speech.

If one sells spoken or printed words as a product in exchange for money or
favor, only the time used to prepare, the organization and delivery of the
communication has become a
commodity, not speech itself. How could
commercial “speech” be anything other than a product? [all 5]


It is legal to talk to a politician in order to try to persuade a politician. However, some are saying that money is equatable to speech. If that was so, a corporation should be fully allowed to persuade a politician by speaking to them with money. This is an example of bribery. However, if spending is truly a form of speech, then this bribery should be allowed. This is absurd.

You may counter that spending doesn't promise a change in a politician's views. That is really naive though, because the spending is used to do just that by providing funds and support to a campaign. [6]
Even if money was accepted as a freedom of speech, this doesn't mean that it should be free of limits. Consider it to yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, when there really is not a fire. This is limited, and corporate funding should be too since it is serious harmful to the campaigning process.


In the case of unlimited spending by corporations, this does serious harm to the political process by increasing the influence of corporations far beyond the number of people who make them up and thus proportionally decreasing the influence of those who are not in control of corporations. To use an analogy, it is on par with having a public discussion in which the people controlling corporations are allowed to use sound systems up on the stage and individuals are expected to try to shout out their views from the crowd. [6]










Corporations are People/ People are Corporations:

My opponent has based some of his arguments on the idea that ‘Corporations are not people’. This issue has already been raised to the Supreme Court and they ruled otherwise, that Corporations do have the right to free speech as they are a kind of people.

Many on the left like rallying behind this phrase ‘Corporations are not people’, but if you truly think this then I ask you exactly what do you think makes up a cooperation? If you answer anything other than ‘people’ than you have lost your mind. People sometimes are shareholders to corporations; people sometimes are CEO’s of corporations.

Assembled people can speak out:

Along with our basic rights spelled out for us in the Bill of Rights there is not just free speech that is tied to this issue but right to assemble. People have a right to gather together and form the NAACP or NOW or NRA or many of the other lobbyist groups out there. There are basically assembled people for the pure purpose of speaking out for something, the excise of our individual right to free speech as a community/congregation/group. It is an assured thing to ask that the right to free speech be hindered just because we do it together. This groups form together to use freedom of speech as a whole unit and no fuss is made over it.

Corporations are a form of Assembled people:

Being a cooperation retains all the basic elements there are to lobbying organizations like the NRA or NOW or like other group interties like a church or the Boy Scouts of America. Recently in the media there’s been much coverage of ‘the 99%’ gathering together to use there free speech as a whole assembled body.

What makes Cooperation any different? Well it’s the idea that they have more cash on hand to contribute to what they speak out for and therefore…….they should not be able to do it?

This makes very little sense to me, the basic right of the body of people that make up the cooperation should still by all tracks of logic be present, but they have a serious amount of cash to be able to by tv ads so they cant be allowed to use as much as they want? Less blessed with cash groups get to throw money at there causes relatively unhindered from giving there best, raising the most money they can and using it the most efficient way they can. Why shouldn’t I as a shareholder if I agree with the other shareholders get to do the exact same thing?

Answering to the Voters:

Politicians will always first and foremost answer to the voting public here in America. The case may have been made that because they are being given significantly useful amounts of cash to run there campaign ads that would change who answer to but the people who actually have the power to put them into office is the voter. Take me for example, a registered voter in Virginia. With current Campaign Finance Laws as they are, and the elbow room cooperation’s have to support there favorite candidates, they money they have used doing so has not bought MY VOTE. I support Rick Santorum for this current election and actually have done so since before he went up in the polls and won Iowa. Santorum is a Candidate without a lot of cash to run his campaign like Romney and Gingrich and yet he gained my vote. Gingrich having access to much money to manipulate the media outlets will never ever have my vote in spite of that advantage he has over Santorum. Votes flat out can’t be bought, you could stand at the closest proximity you can to a voting site and offer every voter passing through 50 bucks if they promise to vote for your guy, and it would just be and incredibly stupid waist of money. Because votes are done privately you can’t watch anyone vote they way you want to ensure they do as you asked. “Sure I’ll go vote Gingrich if you give me that money” and then they take you money after lying and they vote for who they actual want because that candidate they found best REPRESENTS there views.

Last primary election I supported and voted for Mike Huckabee who was also a much less funded candidate, time and time again there have been cases like these where message won out over money. And in this day and age having a ton of ads on there tv commercials people skip with the DVR function anyway or tune to a station that’s actually playing music isn’t going to have nearly so much of an impact nearly as much as having something people want to hear you say. There are numerous news channels slanted in all directions available to find with ease, constant debates uncontrolled to give advantage to anyone, common access to computers for even the lower income citizens in places like the library if not at your own home, free wi-fi connections at almost any public place you go (like Barns and Noble, McDonalds’, Pannera Bread, ect) with commonly known websites like or that allow even a layman to cut through the crap and know exactly what they are voting for. This very website we debate on is a beautiful testament to our freedom to have opposing ideas fairly clash and oppose, support, and explore each other.

Why am I even arguing against whether it has negative effects or not?:

Getting back to the heart of this debates resolution though, what does it matter if it opens gateways to bribery, corruption, ect….. So there is potential for bad, but does that change whether or not it is my right if I am a CEO? Or a shareholder of a company?

I expect my opponent to say something like ‘you might should be able to speak out all you want but just not spend out all you want…’

Do remember I am not arguing for a change in status quo, we have campaign finance laws as is and they are strict enough. Spending money on tv ads is not the same as yelling fire by a long shot, nor is the same as yelling fire by giving money to people who are ultimately controlled by voters, not your money.

Even my opponent must be aware that the status quo is not so horrible with our current level of financing laws as he speaks of the ‘possible’ dangers of our system ‘becoming’ corrupt. This by defaults admits its okay right now. Life is pretty good right now, I’m really not all that hindered from speaking out what I want and neither is my opponent, or the corporations out their

And with this is the end of my main case, as per requested in round one I will save my specific rebuttals for the 3rd round.

I await my opponents responses

Debate Round No. 2


"A example of a limit of free speech in Campaigning would be limiting the amount of airtime a candidate can voice with political advertisements on."

I said this in Round 2, but this was a misstype. I meant to say that an example of a limit of free speech in campaigning would be limiting what the content a candidate can voice.

C1: Corporations and Other Large Insitutions that are private should not get all the equal rights as people

In the legal since, corporations are people, because they have some of the same basic rights. However, in the COMMON SENSE terms, corporations are not people. Here are some things to consider:

1) Can Corporations Live Forever?
2) Can Corporations Be at multiple locations at once?
3) Would you let your daughter marry a corporation?

So, I will concede that corporations is an assembly, but not a person itself. However, that is not the resolution of this debate. We must keep in mind what a real corporation is though:

Corporations are vehicles for liquidity; they give an incorporator the ability to raise capital for business operations by selling shares of the corporation to a limited class of investors or to the public at large. A corporation’s sole goal is to enhance its profits, thereby inducing more investment and increasing its liquidity.

So, a corporation may spend money, but this needs to be limited in a true democratic election.

C2: Spending is Not Speech, Rights of Spending is unfair in some cases

Speech is not an item, but an individualized human expression of
ideas or information not dependent on any exchange. [2]

Spending and having money is purchasing power. Money is property and a medium of exchange. Talking is a form of speech.

"Why shouldn’t I as a shareholder if I agree with the other shareholders get to do the exact same thing?"

I agree, an assembly of people deserves that basic rights that people do

HOWERVER, we have to be prudent. It is unfair to give them full rights in some cases. With a large pool of money, assemblies become powerful. Then, in the case of corporations, are dangerous to the nation. Thus, corporations can become detrimental to the Democratic process by influencing elections grossly unfairly. You, a shareholder, can do the same thing as your interests, YOU can donate to political campaigns. Like my example of a man yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, a right has to be limited in some cases to promote the public interest. Different content, same concept.

C3: Spending by Corporations and Other Groups needs to be limited [3]

As I have already said in R2, Corporate Profits HUGELY outnumber the amounts that politicians fundraise. Therefore, the spending needs to be limited. If you can recall my ExxonMobil example, ExxonMobil made $45 billion in profits in 2008. The Corporation wants to make more money, see my definition in C1. Obama raised $750 million in the same year, a RECORD amount for a Presidential campaign. ExxonMobil, as well as other corporations can hugely influence the political process of a nation, a detrimental implication. ExxonMobil alone made 60 times more profits than the Obama team. With $1.6 trillion in Corporation's hands, they should not be allowed to detrimentally affect the nation through its government.

This is why campaign finance reform is needed, to level the playing field, and make REAL individuals like you and me have an equal chance of communicating to politicians as well as corporations and other groups should, corporations should not get an edge. Level the election field! This is a Democracy, not a plutocracy!

Plus, there are currently no campaign finance laws, besides disclosure laws, which are ever more increasingly ignored. [4]

------------------------Money Spent Per Vote

It is very common for the candidates with more money become victorious. In 2008, Obama "spent" an average of $7.39 a vote. McCain "spent" $5.78 a vote. This is typical. [8]

"they are strict enough" (the laws)

There are no campaign finance limits on the national level anymore. [5]


We need Campaign Finance reform, the best idea is probably full public financing to ensure fair spending. With no limits on corporate spending, corporations have the ability to spend unlimited amounts on campaigns of politicians, which leaves open a very large gate to bribery. To maximize equality in elections, to minimize bribery, to give ALL INDIVIDUALS equal opportunities to communicate to politicians not just corporations, campaign finance reform is the most democratic method to work elections. The politicians work for US, not for CORPORATE AMERICA.

Comparing it to my last example;

In the case of unlimited spending by corporations, this does serious harm to the political process by increasing the influence of corporations far beyond the number of people who make them up and thus proportionally decreasing the influence of those who are not in control of corporations. To use an analogy, it is on par with having a public discussion in which the people controlling corporations are allowed to use sound systems up on the stage and individuals are expected to try to shout out their views from the crowd. [6]



To briefly address ‘cooperation’s are not people’ arguments (Con is right this debates focus is not if cooperation’s are people but if money is speech) Con admitted that corporations are assembled people. Yet still say’s they are not people. This goes to say he thinks people stop being people when they decide to get in groups and be people together. If this is considered true than there IS NO AMERICA for the WE ARE THE PEOPLE spoken of in the constitution are the people together, united as a group called the United States of America.


You say you miss-typed when you limiting airtime is an example of limiting free speech and men to say limiting content is a example of limiting free speech. True as that is you where also right the first time. Limiting airtime is like saying “well you can say what you want but you cant say it very much or very loud, you have to keep your views quite and too yourself.” By limiting how much money we can give to campaigns your limiting our ability to buy airtime and thus limiting our right to free speech.

They make billions!

You over-exaggerate the how big a deal the difference in what a cooperation makes and what candidates make by themselves raising funds. You have to remember what a Candidate raises is embarked to be purely spent on their campaign. Just because Exxon makes over a billion dollars does not mean they have the liberty to just blow a billion dollars on a campaign. Much of those profits have to spent on running their company and its day to day cost. And investing that kind of money in campaigns is akin to throwing it away gambling. And while you might gamble with a few million when you make a billion, you don’t go betting the whole farm on the chance outcome of a political race.

Obama spent 7 dollars on our votes!

This is a fallacy of hasty conclusions. Obama spent more money on campaigning than Mcain by 2 bucks per voter so ergo he won as a result of the cash spending. You have to completely blot out every other thing you know about that election to make that conclusion.

A) Obama won because he energized the youth vote

B) For the first time in a long time the big red state of Va. Was a purple state politically

C) Many people just wanted the first black president

D) He is an amazing speaker

E) He had a concise message of hope and change

F) By your logic Obama had my vote because he spent more money or Romney did that election in the primary. None of these are true, I voted for Huckabee, then Mcain Palin when Huckabee lost. Each time my vote was ‘bought’ by poorer candidate.

To be honest its kind of offensive that you even suggest my vote is decided by who spends more money in an election. This is utterly false and you ignored my point that already addressed this where I sited Huckabee’s and Santorums Victory in the Iowa Caucus early in the races showing message mattered more than money.

‘Real’ individuals should have more say….

This here I also found kind of offensive. Your suggesting I quit counting as a ‘real’ person if through Franklin Templeton investments I become a small shareholder in numerous companies with my mutual fund.

Its ‘Unfair’ in some cases…

Whether things are ‘fair’ or not is the most completely pointless thing to chase after. I couldn’t even get another DDOer to accept a debate over weather things can be ‘unfair’ but still best. He would not take the debate cause he knew as long as things are different for two people you can call it ‘unfair’. One person ‘has’ while another ‘does not have’ but just because that’s ‘unfair’ does not by default make ‘unjust’.

If one day I should succeed in life so much that I have millions of dollars to just blow on presidential campaigns then it would be completely ‘just’ as my right to do that even if by that day you still can only spare 10 dollars on a political campaign.

The ‘just’ though ‘unfair’ reward of success is like Dave Ramsey is found of saying ‘once you have lived like no one else now, later you start living like no one else’. Beans and rice now while your in debt means later you can get out of debt build wealth and start dining on steak like all the time. You drive a cheap salvaged gas efficient car now while your broke and one day you can afford to drive Hummer without being in debt. That might be ‘unfair’ to the people who cant drive hummers but its still your right.

You start penalizing the success of assembled peoples now, you open the door to penalizing my success as an individual next.

Money is a medium of exchange, not speech, talking is speech

Yes money is a medium of exchange but that does not make it not a part of free speech because of that. And if talking was the only form of speech then I ask you try and convince my friend who speaks sign language of that.

What we use that medium of exchange for is in itself and act of speech. By donating to some of your cash to Ron Paul you making a statement you believe in what he stands for.

The loudest and greatest from of speech will always be tell the end of time our actions and how we live our lives. You want the world to do something about starving children in Africa, get with a program that will have you pay to feed a child out of your paycheck over there.

Held accountable by the voters

While I commend my opponent for doing an excellent job this debate, your arguments have been perhaps better formatted than my own, you have sourced liberally, and you have been very respectful, and passionate to a fault on the topic you have not debated before.

But while you have made good arguments its rather crippling to the core of your case this last issue you left un-refuted I brought up last round. Its flat out not possible to buy a vote. Not even if you stood at the ballet box to pass out money before people vote could you do it. People like me who can say we voted for Huckabee are proof of that.

No matter how you try to paint it, at the end of the day our political leaders job security rest with us the voter, not the financing source to their campaign, cause that’s all that part of careers is the campaign. Its just funding to get ads on the tv, but it will not be enough to make them appeal to us the voters. They have to appease us with their actions in congress, they have to appease us with the light of there good characters we can see now. The only thing that puts our democracy in danger is ignorant voters who do not take the responsible action of going to or or many other sites in an age where researching your vote has never been easier and spread of info has never been free-er through the internet.

I thank my opponent for this excellent debate!

Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by 16kadams 2 years ago
My vote would have been sources con args pro.

Sources: con had more

I believe the actual arguments by pro where stronger and his contention about assembled people can still speak stood in the end.he also proved people where corporations, like duh who else runs it.

So. 3-2 pro favor.
Posted by 16kadams 2 years ago
Aw I wanted to vote on this one. :(
Posted by Marauder 2 years ago
Posted by Ron-Paul 2 years ago
Marauder, why question at the man giving you the win? Who did have a lot less sources. Two of the three were just examples and not really back-up so I did not count those. Enjoy the second round (if there is one).
Posted by Contra 2 years ago
Okay, I will say this: Corporations are people. However, they are mostly cruel, inhumane, and power thirsty people.
Posted by Marauder 2 years ago
I had 3 sources. granted they wern't better sources so your still right to give Con that point but dont say I flat out did not use any.
Posted by Ron-Paul 2 years ago

Conduct: Tie.

S/G: Tie.

Convincing Arguments: Pro. Personally, I found pro's arguments more convincing. He proved that votes can not be bought, no matter the money spent. And sometimes, things are not fair, especially in politics. Especially.

Sources: Con. Pro used no sources, so con gets these points.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ron-Paul 2 years ago
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Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
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Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
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