[Editor’s Note: Whether or not one agrees with the political thought and activity Dinesh D’Souza is irrelevant to the following. D’Souza has some very anti-libertarian perspectives and has a very dangerous neo-conservative point-of-view. But this post is important, no matter who the subject regards. For even the disagreeable have rights. –C.Jay Engel]
When Dinesh D’Souza released his critically acclaimed documentary 2016: Obama’s America, it was a given that the president wasn’t going to like it. The film presented a view that Obama, due to his upbringing, has no real desire to see prosperity in America. And indeed wishes to weaken America in every conceivable way. Regardless of whether or not you agree with D’Souza’s thesis, he has a right to state his opinion. And Obama has a right to disagree with it. So do you. The most frightening result of the entire affair would be if any of these parties sought to use the power of law to silence or punish their opponent. And of course, inevitably this happened.
Not long after the film came out; and (conveniently after Obama was safely re-elected), D’Souza was “investigated” for charges that he broke campaign finance laws by contributing more money to a candidate than the law allowed. According to the charge, he encouraged two friends to give to a political campaign, then later reimbursed them for their donation. The money trail, would thus ultimately lead back to D’Souza implicating him in this “illegal” transaction.
The political right, not surprisingly, cried foul citing this as an example of Obama’s government singling out political opponents for investigation. Given the Obama administration’s rotten (and proven) history of using entities like the IRS to go after his opponents; one would have to have an epic level of naivete to not smell a rat. But there is a much more foundational question that should be asked. Rather than focusing on D’Souza being targeted by his political enemies, the defense counsel should have questioned why on earth his actions should have ever been considered illegal to begin with. Instead, they eventually plead guilty, releasing a statement that said: “We are hopeful that Judge Berman will recognize Mr. D’Souza to be a fundamentally honorable man who should not be imprisoned for what was an isolated instance of wrongdoing in an otherwise productive and responsible life.” It’s disturbing that he would admit to “wrongdoing” for something that shouldn’t be considered wrong. Here’s why.
What business is it of the government’s what you do with your money? Theoretically, if D’Souza wanted to give $10,000 to a political campaign, or $10 million – why should the government or anyone else tell him that he can’t? Of course the argument for asinine (and unconstitutional) campaign finance laws is that the money corrupts the system. But can money, or a restriction of it, really improve a system that is so corruptible by it’s very nature? Even if private donations are limited, or even banned; does that really eliminate a politician from promising something immoral to a supporter in order to get elected? And do these would-be supporters not expect the politician to use his might to make good on the promises? The ultimate problem is not an individual financial exchange between politician and supporter; the ultimate problem is a system that is inherently corrupt by giving massive amounts of power to one group over and against another group. The group that has the power to make and enforce laws will naturally use this power to punish those who oppose them. Not just by targeting opponents; but by making laws that give their targeting the aura of legitimacy. Campaign finance laws such as these, merely give the group in power another club with which to bludgeon the American people. And regardless of which political party does the swinging the nation as a whole suffers.
There’s a deeper question to ask regarding the trial of Dinesh D’Souza. Was he targeted? Of course he was. But the deeper question is why would his actions be deemed illegal to begin with? What kind of idiotic law would we embrace that tells a free man what he can and cannot financially contribute to? The charge of money corrupting the system is a proverbial “red herring” and a joke. The system is already corrupt. Campaign finance laws merely mask the corruption and attack a person’s right to freely exchange their own finances with whomever they see fit. In the end, D’Souza plead guilty to a non-crime. And what’s even scarier is the possible punishment for this non-crime. He faces a possible two year prison sentence, $250,000 fine; plus by pleading guilty he forfeits his right to vote, sit on a jury, hold public office, or even own a firearm. That’s a pretty steep penalty for spending his money as he sees fit.
D’Souza’s supporters and detractors all seem to miss this obvious point. His detractors say he broke the law. His supporters say he was targeted. But both groups should ask the deeper question of why this is against the law in the first place. When the majority of Americans begin to question why such laws exist, perhaps we’ll be on our way to true freedom. And the political spitting matches between elephants and donkeys will be a thing of the past.