Social media as public pillory for campaign donations

“When public officials or those running for office call out the political donations of people they don’t like, what’s the goal? Is it merely to shame them?” I comment in this new Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown.

More on the controversy over Rep. Joaquin Castro’s (D-Tex.) tweet: Katie Rogers and Annie Karni, New York Times; Bradley Smith, National Review, Christian Britschgi, Reason; and earlier episodes, not exactly parallel but with some points of similarity, involving Sen. Marco Rubio (Maduro-cozying restaurant owner) and the then-campaigning Donald Trump (“They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!”).


  • My solution to this is a double-blind system. You can give as much as you want to any candidate but the candidate themselves (as well as their opponents) cannot see who gave what. Complete free speech, but it eliminates corruption. For example, we often see businesses give to both candidates–do they favor both? That would make no sense. No, they want to curry favor with both. The result of this method would be a huge decrease in crony capitalism, special favors, and outright (but sneaky) bribery.

  • In the law, people are presumed to intend the natural and logical consequences of their deliberate actions. Castro therefore can easily be considered morally culpable for the natural consequences here–harassment and reducing donations to Trump 2020 (talk about interference with our democracy).

    On a broader scale, this sort of activity presents a structural threat to our democracy. Where the power of government is married up to mob rule, the “division of labor” so to speak insulates members of the government from any sort of judicial accountability. If, for example, one of the children of these people is bullied at school, Castro can say, as he has, that the info was public etc. (He has already made his vice into a virtue by taking that exact thing.)