Turning money into speech: campaign finance, political advertising, and the civic sphere
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In this dissertation, I trace the history of campaign finance reform's influence on political advertising. I track the discourses held within Congress and court hearings to uncover what I call the money-speech paradigm, the ideological principles behind the construction of the marketplace of ideas. I then examine how the relationship between money and speech impacts the production of political advertisements to evaluate the strength of speech within presidential elections from 1976 to 2016. My findings show that campaign spending is being increasingly reregulated to serve interest groups rather than the public. While more opportunities to engage in independent speech emerged, the number of truly autonomous groups has seen little change. In contrast, the number of political advertisers coordinating with one another regularly grows. This came about through a view competition that assumes diversity will naturally occur, resulting in the deregulation of political speech by emphasizing that political advertisers be independent from the government and not each other while expanding who can produce advertisements. As a result, the U.S. government left the diversity of speech unprotected. I use this data to suggest the use of a new metaphor for campaign finance reform. Specifically, I suggest that viewing campaign finance reform as the creation of icebergs-large dense networks of political power that are only partially visible is more apt than the hydraulics used by some legal scholars in the past.