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Politics and CapitalAuctioning the American Dream$
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John Attanasio

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190847029

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190847029.001.0001

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Distributive Autonomy and the Foundational Problem of Campaign Finance

Distributive Autonomy and the Foundational Problem of Campaign Finance

(p.3) 1 Distributive Autonomy and the Foundational Problem of Campaign Finance
Politics and Capital

John Attanasio

Oxford University Press

This chapter sketches the long-standing collision between traditional philosophical conceptions of liberty and equality, how campaign finance jurisprudence exemplifies this collision, and how the new principle of distributive autonomy avoids this collision. Distributive autonomy aims to achieve some congruence, fusion—perhaps even some synthesis—between the core constitutional values of liberty and equality in the touchy realm of first-order rights. Elections comprehend and profoundly shape autonomy, democracy, and distribution of power and wealth. Political campaigns erect the government, and government passes laws that routinely infringe on the autonomy of some and enhance that of others. Laws affect such first-order rights as political influence, privacy, and freedom from imprisonment, and lower-order rights involving the distribution of wealth and other matters. By permitting individuals to spend vast sums to influence political campaigns, the campaign finance cases shifted the entire paradigm of American democracy from decision-making based on participatory democracy to decision-making driven by donations.

Keywords:   liberty, equality, democracy, property, autonomy, distribution, first-order rights, wealth, campaign, finance

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