(Paul Jacob/Common Sense) – Early reports and predictions about political spending in this election cycle claim there’s a 30 percent increase over the last mid-term election. One figure hazards that this campaign will total out to around $3.7 billion. Spending on ads is said to be up 75 percent. Traditional spending via parties and party committees shows Democrats to have an edge over Republicans by about $20 million. Republicans are making up for it, we’re told, by newly re-legalized “outside” spending.
A CBS News report relates the conventional wisdom about this. Watchdog groups “say more ads and information can be good — but voters can’t judge their credibility when donors are secret.” One expert decries this, saying “We just cannot know and we’ll never know who is ponying up the money.”
I say, “so what?”
Information cannot be judged good or bad, nor facts or argument dismissed, depending on where the money comes from to distribute the information and argumentation. The classic fallacy of the argumentum ad hominem judges conclusions by the character of the speaker rather than the truth of the facts or the validity of arguments.
Its dominance in politics is a curse, not a blessing.
Demands for full transparency of citizen activism bolster the nasty politics of a logical fallacy. When we don’t know the economic provenance of an ad or a slogan or an argument, we’ll just have to decide the issue on its own merits.