Judd Apatow thinks rich people influencing elections is bad

by Sonny Bunch on August 24, 2012

But only really, really rich people. Those who are simply really rich, like Apatow, should be free to donate what they please.

At least, that’s my takeaway from this conversation he and Jonah Goldberg had on Twitter last night. Here was Apatow:

And here was Jonah:

For what it’s worth, here was me:

All snark aside, to me this is a pretty clear-cut issue: The First Amendment clearly states that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” This is a foundational idea in our democracy, one that we should fight to protect at all costs—especially when it comes to political speech, the kind of speech our founders held most sacred. It’s not one that we should sell out bits and pieces at a time. The First Amendment doesn’t say “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, except when it’s 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election.” The First Amendment doesn’t say “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, except for billionaires who wish to opine on politics.” The First Amendment doesn’t say “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, except when unions wish to spend $4 billion influencing state, local, and federal elections.” The founding fathers may not have known TV, as Apatow states. But they certainly understood the danger of the government telling the people what they can and cannot say about our political system.

Would Apatow feel comfortable living in a world in which the government said The Campaign can’t be shown in theaters because it’s clearly a ridiculously expensive piece of issue advocacy? Would he feel comfortable living in a world in which the government threatened to fine or imprison anyone who had shown Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004 because it’s an obvious piece of partisan hackery designed to influence the presidential election? Corporations worth hundreds of millions of dollars should be banned from influencing elections…so we will forbid the New Yorker from running editorials in favor of one candidate or the other?

I think the whole conversation is kind of funny and kind of sad, insofar as Judd Apatow is a smart guy who really, truly believes that money is a corrupting influence in politics but can only talk about the subject in broad, talking-point-style platitudes and he has no compunction donating tons and tons of money to politicians he admires/supports. Since 2008, Judd Apatow has donated $63,100 to the Obama Victory Fund, the DCCC, and Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. His wife, Leslie Mann-Apatow, has given another $17,700 since 2010. In other words, between the two of them, they have donated more than $80,000 to Democrats—or 60 percent more than the United States median household income of $49,445. If you’re going to talk about the problem of big money influencing politics, you might want to have just a smidgen of self-awareness.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Evan August 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm

“If you’re going to talk about the problem of big money influencing politics, you might want to have just a smidgen of self-awareness.”

Therein lies the problem. Avoiding hypocrisy isn’t just a matter of having one’s heart in the right place. It’s a skill. It requires the integrity and discipline to constantly play devil’s advocate with oneself, ask difficult questions, and be willing to reevaluate principles if a contradiction is found. Too many people lack this internal feedback loop and that’s why we end up with so many inane debates like this.

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Bugg August 26, 2012 at 12:21 pm

With the internet and the FEC holding the bank accounts, you could easily limit giving to individuals who provide a verifiable Social Security number with immediate disclosure. Take a million from Mr. Lucifer Satan and it’s disclosed right then. Further nobody seems the least bit upset that The One took millions in contributions from foreigners in 2008. But nothing new for him; despite acknowledging getting half his home acreage for free from felon Ton Rezko being a mistake, Obama has done nothing to rectify that either.

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