Friday, January 31, 2014

Bill Maher's Noble Attempt to 'Corrupt' Democracy

According to the New York Times, longtime comedian, talk show host, and Citizens United critic Bill Maher has decided he wants to enter “into the exciting world of outright meddling with the political process.” His plan, apparently, is to pick a ridiculous member of Congress who faces a competitive race in the coming November election…and make him or her lose.

Personally, I think this may be the noblest pursuit ever undertaken by a talking head—unseating incumbent politicians is something to which all Americans can and should aspire. Mr. Maher has the cachet, financial resources, and—it’s been said—humor to literally ridicule someone out of office. Ain’t democracy grand?

The project — which the show is calling the “flip the district” campaign — is intended to get real results, said Scott Carter, the show’s executive producer. Among the criteria for selecting a representative, other than some degree of outrageousness in statements or voting record, is that the member be in a truly competitive race. Those running unopposed will not be selected, no matter how egregious the show’s fans may claim them to be.

There is one small problem, however. Mr. Maher wants to unseat this unlucky representative of the people by using his television show and stand-up act as a platform to run his anti-whomever campaign. Even though he has pledged no money or direct coordination with the challenger-beneficiary of his actions, his independent expenditures—implicitly linked to the corporation he works for, Time Warner’s HBO, by the explicit participation of his show’s executive producer and the presumed use of the show’s budget—necessarily implicate corruption.