The anatomy of debate about campaign finance

Ryan Pevnick

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The goal of this article is to provide a conceptual overview that highlights the key questions of democratic theory at stake in the debate about campaign finance. It does so in two main steps. First, against the common view that the debate is a one-front confrontation between egalitarians and their opponents, the article outlines three distinct reform positions. These positions aim to eliminate the dependence of public officials on wealthy supporters, equalize citizens' opportunity for political influence, or ensure that advocates of competing positions have equal resources with which to contest elections. Second, the article articulates a challenge faced by advocates of all of the main reform positions: they must show that the ideal for which they advocate can be meaningfully pursued without undermining broader commitments to individual liberty in the background culture. This generates deeper difficulties for the reform movement than ordinarily recognized.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1184-1195
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Politics
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Oct 2016

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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