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Do Third Party Political Ads Distort Political Races? [audio]

Senator Jon Tester recently invited Congressman Denny Rehberg in a ban on third-party ads. You can hear the details of the offer from the Communications Director of the Tester Campaign, Aaron Murphy.

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I understand why any campaign would want to get negative ads out of the race, but I have difficulty seeing the harm in positive ads. The whole issue has me a bit conflicted. Here are the two reasons why the issue is so troublesome to me.

1. I believe that money and misinformation have the possibility of swinging an election unjustly to one side of the equation. Especially when the message changes close to the election date and there is little time for response.

2. I believe people, including people that incorporate, unionize, or band together through partnerships, should have the right to free speech just as much when they are grouped as when they are individuals.

In response to the problem that arises from believing both of these points, I think the only answer to the problem of point 1 (bad speech) is more of point 2 (free speech). Technology is making media cheaper and more accessible than ever before. We also have access to wilder and more inflammatory opinions than ever before. And yet, the majority of people still look to a few outlets to get information that they “trust.” There’s no easy solution to the problem, but I think people are smart enough to ignore unreasonable slurs and to lean on sources of information that they have verified already. More importantly though, I think everyone should have the ability to influence the election by speaking out . . . when we clamp down on that I feel we are clamping down on our own liberty.

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