Response Essay: Hollowed-Out Democracy
89 N.Y.U. L. Rev. Online 48 (2014)
4 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2014
Date Written: October 2014
Professors Joseph Fishkin and Heather Gerken argue, in The Two Trends That Matter for Party Politics, that the Supreme Court’s recent deregulation of the campaign-finance system is fueling a troubling shift toward "shadow parties," away from formal parties populated by party activists. This response essay commends Fishkin’s and Gerken’s focus on the relationship between campaign finance law and the structure of political parties but raises two concerns about their argument. First, the formal parties, at least on the national level, departed from the "party faithful" model well before the Court’s most recent campaign finance decisions, raising the need to think more broadly about the causes for the shift. Second, while Fishkin and Gerken are correct to worry about the dominance of the elite in our democratic organizations, for that conversation to have real impact on the vitality of our democracy, it must be expanded beyond political parties to civil society more generally. This essay was written for the 2014 Brennan Center Convening, Money in Politics 2030: Toward a New Jurisprudence.
Keywords: democracy, campaign finance, right to participate, political parties
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