Yup, I'm talking about campagin financing. While this time, his focus is on the Arizona state method of allowing candidates to voluntarily limit their contribution ceiling and campaign dollars by applying for public campaign funding.
Will uses the rhetorical device of false equivalency: because public funding of a campaign will increase the amount of money to a candidate based on the amount of money private funding candidates spend against them, Will claims that somehow "limits" someone's free speech in some way. Speaking of the 9th Circuit, who upheld Arizona's law, Will says
It upheld this abominable law that is obviously designed to coerce candidates into limiting their political speech by making the exercise of their First Amendment rights trigger government spending on behalf of their opponents.
Sorry, that's not true. No one is limiting what a privately funded candidate or polictical group can say, or how they can say it or how much money they can raise to say it (all different things, in descending order of civil-liberty-related importance). All this law does is allow for a publicly funded candidate to respond without going bankrupt; and I do not believe they recieve dollar-for-dollar matching funds, or funds in triplicate, as Will attempts to suggest. But they do get to tell the voters that they aren't raising money from interest groups, and are instead accepting limits on their own funding.
It isn't their fault that American voters tend to distrust those candidates who spend all their time hobnobbing with the richest and most well-connected contributors and then writing legislation or contracts that benefit those contributors. (Why would people equate smoke with fire, anyway?)
The other thing this law does is make campaigning accessible to more individuals, not just rich or well connected individuals, by removing the artificial but real limits on free political speech built into a system where running for office costs as much as it does. Those real limitations are, noticably, ignored by Will in this article.
Finally, no one's free political speech is limited by any campaign finance law, despite how many well-financed right-wing pundits continue to say it is. Limiting money to a candidate does not silence speech - they still have the right to say whatever they like, with only the other candidates, the media and the education of the voters to determine if what they say is true. All that campaign-finance rules affect is how the candidate publicizes their free speech.
There's a big difference between the two.