Keep Out

Whether it is the civil rights movement of the 1960s or today’s Tea Party movement, outsiders in American politics have always played a crucial role in challenging the status quo by pushing new ideas to the fore and inspiring newcomers to run for public office.

Such political entrepreneurs bring vibrancy to American democracy and keep the political establishment on its toes, much as economic entrepreneurs drive innovation and change in the marketplace.

Yet campaign finance laws in all 50 states erect barriers to entry for political entrepreneurs, just as occupational licensing laws keep upstarts from competing with established interests.

Milyo shows how contribution limits and campaign finance red tape make it harder for political entrepreneurs to form new groups and bring new voices to political debate, as well as reduce the resources available for political advocacy. The message from political insiders to upstart citizen groups could not be clearer: Keep out!

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