Just as inflation can destroy a nation’s currency, so too inflation of another kind can destroy a nation’s citizenry.
I’m talking about the Democrat plot to vastly expand the voter base by first importing illegal aliens and then making it as easy as possible for them to vote — sometimes up to and including giving them legal access to state and local elections.
This, coupled with the Democrat effort to diminish trust in our elections by constantly inventing ever-more ludicrous claims of voter suppression, has resulted in a deadly attack on our national sovereignty. If people no longer believe they can trust our elections, then they will feel justified in rejecting the legitimacy of the government itself.
Sound familiar? That’s the faux justification of the resistance in rejecting loyalty to the duly elected president. Remember, according to the Democratic left, President Trump is only in office as a result of foreign interference and voter suppression. Reality doesn’t matter. In the eyes of the far left, Stacey Abrams is the governor of Georgia even though she lost the election by 50,000 votes.
Now, Democrats rarely talk about allowing illegal immigrants to vote in elections, but that is not always the case. Following the Cass Sunstein strategy of effecting transformational change in society through small incremental “nudges,” some Democrats currently call for allowing illegal aliens to vote in school and other local elections on the theory that all residents have a stake in the operation of schools and city services. Sure they do, and all illegal immigrants also have a stake in federal immigration policy, which will eventually be the argument why they should be allowed to vote in federal elections as well.
Nor can we discount the possibility of non-eligible voters participating in federal elections as long as voter ID is not mandatory. Progressives typically label as “voter suppression” any policy that requires voters to present a legal ID before voting. The claim is that Democrat voters are less likely to be able to obtain such an ID, though there is never any realistic explanation of why that is the case. Nor can they explain why they think cashing a check at a grocery store should have a higher bar than exercising your sacred trust of participating as a sovereign voice in the government of the United States.
Since many illegal immigrants now have access to a driver’s license in “sanctuary states” such as California, it is difficult if not impossible to tell a legal citizen from an interloper. The only thing that prevents illegal immigrants from voting is an unwillingness to break the law, and they have already proven that they think the law doesn’t apply to them.
Mark Hemingway wrote exhaustively at RealClearInvestigations earlier this month that it’s not only illegal aliens who present a threat to the sanctity of our elections. According to his report, Los Angeles by itself has 1.6 million more people registered to vote than eligible voters. But it’s not just Los Angeles or California that present a risk. According to Hemingway:
“Eight states, as well as the District of Columbia, have total voter registration tallies exceeding 100%, and in total, 38 states have counties where voter registration rates exceed 100%. Another state that stands out is Kentucky, where the voter registration rate in 48 of its 120 counties exceeded 100% last year. About 15% of America’s counties where there is reliable voter data – that is, over 400 counties out of 2,800 – have voter registration rates over 100%.”
If you think it is absurd that Democrats might want to take advantage of the large illegal immigration population to increase their vote totals, consider this: When passing their first piece of legislation in the Nancy Pelosi-led House of Representatives in 2019, Democrats rejected a GOP amendment stating that “allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens.”
There’s that idea of inflation again, which brings us back to the question of the value of citizenship. This is no longer a merely academic exercise, as we learned in the first round of Democratic presidential debates. Many of the candidates confirmed they want to decriminalize illegal immigration and even offer government benefits to those who are in the country without permission. Moreover, we’ve been told by the Supreme Court that we can’t ask about citizenship on the census unless our “motive” is politically correct. This raises the question of whether citizenship even matters in the world that Marx built.
What, for instance, makes an American an American? If citizenship rights are fungible — if, for instance, you can exchange your Guatemalan citizenship for quasi U.S. citizenship merely by stepping across a border — then what obligations does government have to its own citizens? Don’t we at some point surrender our own rights to the claims of sovereignty if borders are not barriers but merely props for a social-justice docudrama? At least in the realm of rhetoric, citizenship should no longer be considered a once-and-for-all privilege. Easy come, easy go.
I wonder if that’s what President Trump had in mind when he made the supposedly outrageous comments about “the Squad” of four socialist Democrats who want to demolish our borders. He has been attacked for asking, “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the four congresswomen were born in the United States, so Trump was technically wrong to say the “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen … originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe,” but under the new rules of fluid citizenship, he may have been even closer to the target than even he knew.
If citizenship no longer protects us, if we are obligated to shelter anyone who crosses our borders, then the value of that citizenship has been deflated just as the voter rolls have been inflated. Will the Squad really be “sent back” to some ancestral homeland? No, obviously not, but their advocacy of a country without borders makes them an apt target for those who want to defend our sovereignty.
President Trump, as usual, is ahead of the curve. He has pushed the open-borders argument to its natural conclusion. Citizenship and the responsibilities of citizenship either mean something specific or they don’t. Since Democrats in Congress refuse to acknowledge that U.S. citizenship has a real and permanent and impermeable meaning in law, then they need to live with the consequences of their globalist agenda. Sure, they are citizens of our great country, but if they are right in their defense of illegal immigrants, then that citizenship has no lasting value and offers no guarantees to those who possess it. In the brave new world without borders, the four congresswomen — and the rest of us — will have no certainty where we belong nor whether our citizenship rights can be taken away from us as easily as our protections.
Last week, at the invitation of Sen. Ted Cruz, I spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee about Google’s having placed more than 60 Prager University videos on its restricted list. Any family that filters out pornography and violence cannot see those particular videos on YouTube (which is owned by Google); nor can any school or library.
This statement is as much about what I and PragerU stand for as it is about Google. Those interested in viewing the presentation can do so here:
It is an honor to be invited to speak in the United States Senate. But I wish I were not so honored. Because the subject of this hearing — Google and YouTube’s (and for that matter, Twitter and Facebook’s) suppression of internet content on ideological grounds — threatens the future of America more than any external enemy.
In fact, never in American history has there been as strong a threat to freedom of speech as there is today.
Before addressing this, however, I think it important that you know a bit about me and the organization I co-founded, Prager University — PragerU, as it often referred to.
I was born in Brooklyn, New York. My late father, Max Prager, was a CPA and an Orthodox Jew who volunteered to serve in the U.S. Navy at the start of World War II. My father’s senior class thesis at the City College of New York was on anti-Semitism in America. Yet, despite his keen awareness of the subject, he believed that Jews living in America were the luckiest Jews to have ever lived.
He was right. Having taught Jewish history at Brooklyn College, written a book on antisemitism and fought Jew-hatred my whole life, I thank God for living in America.
It breaks my heart that a vast number of young Americans have not only not been taught how lucky they are to be Americans but have been taught either how unlucky they are or how ashamed they should be.
It breaks my heart for them because contempt for one’s country leaves a terrible hole in one’s soul and because ungrateful people always become unhappy and angry people.
And it breaks my heart for America because no good country can survive when its people have contempt for it.
I have been communicating this appreciation of America for 35 years as a radio talk show host, the last 20 in national syndication with the Salem Radio Network — an organization that is a blessing in American life. One reason I started PragerU was to communicate America’s moral purpose and moral achievements, both to young Americans and to young people around the world. With a billion views a year, and with more than half of the viewers under age 35, PragerU has achieved some success.
My philosophy of life is easily summarized: God wants us to be good. Period. God without goodness is fanaticism and goodness without God will not long endure. Everything I and PragerU do emanates from belief in the importance of being a good person. That some label us extreme or “haters” only reflects on the character and the broken moral compass of those making such accusations. They are the haters and extremists.
PragerU releases a five-minute video every week. Our presenters include three former prime ministers, four Pulitzer Prize winners, liberals, conservatives, gays, blacks, Latinos, atheists, believers, Jews, Christians, Muslims and professors and scientists from MIT, Harvard, Stanford and a dozen other universities.
Do you think the secretary-general of NATO; or the former prime ministers of Norway, Canada or Spain; or the late Charles Krauthammer; or Philip Hamburger, distinguished professor of law at Columbia Law School, would make a video for an extreme or hate-filled site? The idea is not only preposterous; it is a smear.
Yet, Google, which owns YouTube, has restricted access to 56 of our 320 five-minute videos and to other videos we produce. “Restricted” means families that have a filter to avoid pornography and violence cannot see that video. It also means that no school or library can show that video.
Google has even restricted access to a video on the Ten Commandments … Yes, the Ten Commandments!
We have repeatedly asked Google why our videos are restricted. No explanation is ever given.
But of course, we know why: because they come from a conservative perspective.
Liberals and conservatives differ on many issues. But they have always agreed that free speech must be preserved. While the left has never supported free speech, liberals always have. I therefore appeal to liberals to join us in fighting on behalf of America’s crowning glory — free speech. Otherwise, I promise you, one day you will say, “First they came after conservatives, and I said nothing. And then they came after me. And there was no one left to speak up for me.”
The savage beating of journalist Andy Ngo in Portland by far-left antifa rioters last Saturday shocked everyone. Well, conservatives anyway, plus a few honorable liberals. As the police stood by watching at a distance, masked thugs hit him, stole his camera and threw milkshake, rocks and eggs at him. He ended up in the hospital with a brain hemorrhage.
Criminal laws are supposed to deter criminal behavior. But that only works when the criminal gets caught and punished, and when people are permitted to hide their identities behind a mask, as antifa thugs are, no one gets caught.
Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, has vowed to hold the offenders accountable. Let us know who the perpetrators are, he asked, and the city would hold them accountable — a supremely useless plea when dealing with a largely masked and anonymous group.
The antifa slogan in Portland is “we own the streets.” And they do. The city has let it happen. Last October, they blocked a street and threatened drivers and passers-by who wanted to get through. A few months before that, they beat up a Bernie Sanders supporter who was carrying an American flag.
And it isn’t just Portland. We saw similar brutality in Washington, during President Trump’s Inauguration. Hundreds of rioting antifa members took over downtown DC. They marched in black bloc fashion, five abreast, their faces wholly covered, smashing windows and pushing people off the sidewalk. The police arrested 234 people, but not one of them was found guilty.
It’s the masks that save them. They’re a get-out-of-jail-free card. Deterrence doesn’t work when you can hide your identity. That’s a lesson we should have learned from the Ku Klux Klan.
Thanks to the masks, antifa won’t pay a cost. Instead, they will luxuriate in their sense of justified political hatred. They will also have the backing of prominent apologists in the liberal establishment, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who endorsed the antifa handbook, and CNN’s Don Lemon, who said in defense of the group that “no organization is perfect.”
Best of all for antifa, their actions have an effect. They are letting conservatives and even dissident liberals like Ngo know that they aren’t safe in Portland.
Mind you, that only works if the state is complicit. And when the city abandons its duty to protect its citizens, its inaction amounts to permission.
Mayor Wheeler is picky about the people he will protect. When a federal immigration building was surrounded by protesters last summer, its workers feared for their safety. But the mayor supported the protesters, and, following his orders, the local police refused to take sides.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement workers were effectively imprisoned in their building until federal forces from Homeland Security arrived to rescue them. When it was over, Homeland Security installed a “no-climb” fence to protect the ICE workers, to which the city objected because it was too high.
Wheeler says he is against violence. But the hooded antifa riots are still tolerated. The Portland police chief wants to ban masks, but fat chance the state will pass such a law, against protests by civil libertarians. And an anti-mask law isn’t necessary. The state already has a perfectly suitable remedy, in its anti-riot law. A person commits the crime of riot if, while participating with at least five other people, he engages in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly creates a grave risk of causing public alarm.
I can’t think of a better definition of the antifa method of operation.
After Ngo was beaten, the police declared a riot. Next time, the riot should be declared the moment hooded antifa protesters show up. But Wheeler won’t let that happen. That would get in the way of antifa’s free-speech rights, he thinks.
Evidently, it’s time for the federal government to step in — and crack down. It has had to do so in the past, especially during the civil rights era in the South.
There’s a federal law against conspiring to injure or intimidate a person in the free exercise of enjoyment of his rights or privileges, and I should think the elements of the offense are complete the moment the antifa goons show up in Portland.
What’s missing is the will to protect ordinary citizens, and since the city of Portland won’t do so, it’s time for federal marshals or the FBI to step in.
The left's new extremism condones assaulting conservatives in public. Antifa's attack on a journalist is yet another example that our norms have changed.
Over the weekend, the Washington Post published an opinion article written by Stephanie Wilkinson, the owner of Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia. Wilkinson famously kicked out White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family last June over what Wilkinson felt was a moral obligation to stand up to the Trump administration. The restaurant owner not only ejected Sanders, but followed her into another restaurant to continue the harassment.
Wilkinson doubled down on her actions in her Washington Post article, claiming that all restaurants and businesses have a moral obligation to prevent dissenters from participating in public life because, as she said, “this isn’t about politics. It’s about values, and accountability to values, in business.”
Her position, like many others, is that President Trump is akin to a murderous dictator, that he is an unabashed anti-LGBT racist, despite no evidence to support this. She has subscribed to the rules and followed them to the letter, so naturally, anyone who shares any values with the conservative president is the enemy. In closing, she suggests:
When the day comes that the world feels returned to its normal axis, I expect we’ll see fewer highly charged encounters making headlines. In the meantime, the new rules apply. If you’re directly complicit in spreading hate or perpetuating suffering, maybe you should consider dining at home.
The New York Times ran a companion article this weekend in their opinion section that suggested civilians should expose those attempting to address the humanitarian crisis at the border. Author Katie Cronin-Furman, an “assistant professor for human rights,” didn’t mean the human smugglers and the scores of people exploiting children to gain access to the United States, but the government employees of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She cited the cash-starved agencies as being solely responsible for the deplorable conditions at the detention facilities.
The author further suggests that the best way to combat the crisis at the border, which was repeatedly denied by the left until very recently, was to obtain the names and identities of government agents and shame them publicly in their home towns and churches. She said, “Immigration lawyers have agent names; journalists reporting at the border have names, photos and even videos. These agents’ actions should be publicized, particularly in their home communities.”
Cronin-Furman further suggested that attorneys should think twice about representing these government agents: “the American Bar Association should signal that anyone who defends the border patrol’s mistreatment of children will not be considered a member in good standing of the legal profession.” Mind you, even serial killers, rapists, terrorists, and pedophiles have the right to legal representation in this country. But apparently U.S. government employees attempting to deal with a crisis our Congress refuses to address do not.
These are the new rules of civility. Last week, a server at The Aviary, an upscale cocktail lounge in Chicago, spit in the face of the president’s son, Eric. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot condemned this, as did the owners of The Aviary, but public support for the server was astronomic. A fundraising page for the employee (later determined to be fake) raised more than $5,000 in less than two days.
Carlos Maza, an employee of liberal outlet Vox, made headlines in June for causing YouTube to yank ad revenue from conservative Steven Crowder. He claimed Crowder was guilty of “hate speech” and harassment. Crowder frequently poked fun at Maza and his extremely leftist views on his show, “Louder with Crowder.” Just a month earlier, however, Maza suggested attacking all conservatives by hurling drinks at them. In a tweet, he said, “Milkshake them all. Humiliate them at every turn. Make them dread public organizing.”
Vice published an article in May titled, “How to Make the Perfect Milkshake for Throwing at Fascists,” which encouraged readers to hurl the beverages at any conservative they recognize in public. Food blog Eater doubled down on Vice’s suggestion with a tongue-in-cheek piece about the best throwing food for “fighting fascism.”
The Boston Globe published an article in April that suggested food service workers should tamper with the food of conservatives, including of Bill Kristol, who has never supported the Trump administration in any way. The Boston Globe later removed their article after severe backlash. Throwing any object at a person is considered assault.
In the past year, nearly a dozen members of the Trump administration and conservative lawmakers have been chased out of restaurants and pelted with milkshakes, not for causing civil disruption, but simply for being in public. The new rules being touted so strongly by the media aren’t limited to lawmakers and cabinet members any longer, however. Milkshakes, harassment, and public shaming are now excused penalties for anyone who doesn’t fully subscribe to their ideology.
In that vein, any journalist critical of policies now considered by the left to be nothing short of moral imperatives would also be unwelcome in the public square and therefore a complicit “fascist.” After the shocking moment in Thursday night’s Democratic debate when all ten candidates raised their hands in favor of unlimited taxpayer-provided health care for illegal immigrants, noted Trump critic Andrew Sullivan suggested their extreme position could cost them the election. He was quickly labeled on social media as a Trump apologist and racist.
Then there was the attack on journalist Andy Ngo this weekend in Portland, Oregon, by Rose City Antifa. While the extreme left continues to tout their new rules of civility as being merely “peaceful protests,” Ngo was targeted and brutally attacked by black-mask-wearing members of an extremist organization. As Antifa pelted Ngo with fists, milkshakes, and other objects, stealing his camera and phone as he lay bleeding on the ground, police stood idly by under directives of a very liberal mayor in a very liberal city. Just three arrests were made. Ngo was hospitalized with a brain bleed.
Ngo, who is openly gay, is an editor for Quillette, a magazine that stays in the center politically but often publishes articles that fall outside of the “correct way” of thinking as laid out by extreme progressives. The new rules seem to ban any contradicting thought from public life, and if peaceful protesting doesn’t make people fall in line, then more forceful, violent methods now have received the green light.
The political line in the sand between the left and right has evolved into a fracture so deep and wide that the idea of crossing it in either direction has become almost unthinkable. Progressive liberals have set a far-left course that has been followed by most congressional Democrats, even those who once considered themselves to be moderate. They’ve laid out their rules for the “correct” way to think, to speak, and to vote.
“Correct” for the new left includes eliminating border enforcement, giving government benefits to illegal immigrants, socializing education from pre-K all the way through college, striking private health insurance in favor of Medicare, and using taxpayer revenue to pay for abortions without restriction. The stunning ascension of such extreme policy proposals from high-profile Democrats has further cast conservatives, moderates, and many in their own party as the villains in a battle between good and evil.
What has been made abundantly clear in recent days is that the new left has no intention of negotiating their terms. In addition to laying out the way they feel every man, woman, and child should think, the party of “decency” and “tolerance” has become totally intolerant of dissenting thought. Those who challenge their ideas are often branded as racists, misogynists, and even Nazis because to the new left, their extremism isn’t a political ideology, it’s the new national code for morals and values.
Americans are losing interest in the Civil War—or at least they are losing interest in learning about it and visiting historic battle sites. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that the country’s “five major Civil War battlefield parks—Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh, Chickamauga/Chattanooga, and Vicksburg—had a combined 3.1 million visitors in 2018, down from about 10.2 million in 1970.” Gettysburg, America’s most famous and hallowed battlefield, drew fewer than a million visitors last year, and just 14 percent of the visitor total in 1970.
In addition to fewer tourists, the number of Civil War re-enactors is also declining. Many are growing old, and younger men are not stepping in to replenish their ranks. As one 68-year-old re-enactor, who recently helped organize a recreation of the Battle of Resaca in Georgia, told the Journal, “The younger generations are not taught to respect history, and they lose interest in it.”
But it’s not just that young people are not taught to respect history. They are often not taught history at all. To the extent they are, they are told that American history is a parade of horribles: slavery, genocide, bigotry, greed—a story above all of injustice and oppression, perpetrated by the powerful against the weak.
No wonder then, that recent public interest in the Civil War has mostly taken the form of a push to remove Confederate monuments from public places and rename buildings and roads bearing the names of Confederate leaders. We hear much about removing and renaming these days, but almost nothing about building more and better monuments, or reinvigorating public interest and education about the war.
In a country where large numbers of college graduates do not even know the half-century in which the Civil War occurred, but are convinced that Confederate monuments should come down, we should expect genuine interest in the Civil War to wane if not to disappear entirely, except perhaps as an object for political activism.
This problem of course goes well beyond the Civil War; it encompasses all of history. Consider the case of the College Board’s Advanced Placement U.S. History examination. In 2014, the National Association of Scholars issued a report exposing the exam’s heavy progressive bias, systematic downplaying of American virtues, and outright omission of important periods in American history. The report sparked enough outrage and bad press that the College Board revised its exam—this time including previously omitted figures like James Madison—but according to the NAS the course materials for the test were unchanged and reflected the same progressive bias.
In 2016, the NAS decided to take a closer lookat another of the College Board’s offerings, the new AP European History examination, which, it turns out, reflected the same progressive bias as the American history exam. “The College Board’s persisting progressive distortion of history substantiates concerns that the 2015 APUSH revisions do not represent a genuine change of direction,” wrote the NAS’s David Randall, “but only a temporary detour in the College Board’s long march to impose leftist history on the half a million American high school students each year who prepare themselves for college by taking APUSH or APEH.”
(The exam, which purports to be about European history, omits all mention of Christopher Columbus, Michel de Montaigne, John Wesley, the Duke of Wellington, Florence Nightingale, and Václav Havel. It mentions Winston Churchill only “as a prompt for learning how to analyze primary sources.”)
Progressive bias in high school and college curricula is in part the long legacy of Howard Zinn, whose “A People’s History of the United States,” first published in 1980, presents a cartoonish, left-wing version of American history that pits “the people” against “the rulers” and casts the entire American experiment of democratic self-rule in a decidedly negative light. That approach is now common among professional historians, with the result that growing numbers of Americans don’t know much, or care to know much, about their own history.
As the historian Wilfred McClay said in a recent interview, the Zinn approach invites historical ignorance and indifference: “Why learn what the Wilmot Proviso was, or what exactly went into the Compromise of 1850, when you could just say we had this original sin of slavery?”
The danger here is not just that Civil War battlefields will eventually lie fallow for lack of visitors, but that we will unlearn the painful lessons of our past. To some extent, we’ve already started down that path.
Another recent NAS report, for example, examined the re-emergence of segregation on college campuses—what the authors call “neo-segregation.” In a survey of 173 schools, including small private colleges as well as major universities like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University, the study found“42 percent offer segregated residences, 46 percent offer segregated orientation programs, and 72 percent host segregated graduation ceremonies.”
These segregated graduation ceremonies are not mandatory, of course, and are offered in addition to regular graduation ceremonies. But the fact that they have become so prevalent on college campuses should disturb anyone familiar with the history of segregation in America. Whether it’s segregation by race, as at Columbia University’s “Raza Graduation Ceremony” and “Black Graduation,” or by sexual orientation, as at the University of Texas’s “Lavender graduation” for LGBT students, the trend of self-segregation among minority college students is a cause for worry, especially at a time when divisions in civil society are deepening.
There’s a ruthless logic to this, just as there’s a ruthless logic to reducing American history to a catalog of the worst things we’ve ever done. If history is just another tool in the pursuit of political power, there’s not much of an impetus to get it right.
I used to laugh every time I heard someone like Elon Musk say that we are living in a Matrix-like simulation. These days, not so much.
Don’t call the funny farm just yet. On the major question of the nature of sense experience, I remain with Aristotle and against Bishop Berkeley. Matter is real. But there is also the question of how we perceive “the news”; how established media institutions present and frame information; how we are supposed to respond to the “takes” purportedly expert and knowledgeable voices serve up to us by the second on social media. And here, I’m skeptical.
It’s hard not to be. Think of the headlines we’ve encountered since the beginning of this year. We were told the Covington Catholic boys were smug racist Trump supporters on the basis of a snippet of video. A young man, a private citizen, whose only offense was traveling to Washington, D.C., to march for life, was transformed at light speed into a symbol of hate and systemic oppression. However, just as Nick Sandmann’s reputation as a villain was about to set in stone, additional videos revealed that the students’ encounter with a far-left American Indian activist and the Black Hebrew Israelites was far more complicated than initially reported. The Covington Catholic boys had been smeared. People who cast themselves as agents of professional knowledge, expertise, and moral authority had circulated and amplified a lie in the service of a political agenda. Not for the first nor last time.
We were told Jussie Smollett, a rising gay African-American actor and singer, had been the victim of a hate crime committed by MAGA-hat-wearing Trump supporters in the dead cold of a Chicago night. Journalists and bloggers who asked questions about Smollett’s story were decried as bigots, even as key details went missing and the shifting timeline became more and more curious. Then the city’s African-American police commissioner announced Smollett had been arrested for orchestrating a bizarre hoax. The state’s attorney filed charges—charges subsequently dropped after behind-the-scenes lobbying by Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff.
We were told that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin were in cahoots to hack the emails of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign; that Trump might have been a Russian agent since the late 1980s; that the key to the conspiracy might be a server in Trump Tower relaying information to a Russian bank; that the indictment of Donald Trump Jr. was imminent; that Trump Sr., according to the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, had committed “treason”; that Michael Cohen had met with Russian intelligence operatives in Prague; that Trump had directed Michael Flynn to speak to the Russians prior to Election Day 2016; that Trump had instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress; that Paul Manafort had met with Julian Assange in the Ecuadoran embassy in London during the campaign; that secret indictments in an Alexandria courthouse would be unsealed on the day Robert Mueller filed his report on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. None of it happened.
We were told that Michael Avenatti, a trial attorney who appeared seemingly out of nowhere to represent Stephanie Clifford, aka “Stormy Daniels,” in her (tossed-out) defamation suit against Donald Trump, was a defender of the rule of law and election integrity who posed, in the words of Stephen Colbert, an “existential threat” to the Trump presidency. Avenatti appeared incessantly on cable news, earning the equivalent of $175 million in media exposure between March and May 2018. Last September, an article in Politico Magazine carried the headline, “Michael Avenatti Is Winning the 2020 Democratic Primary.” When Avenatti said he represented a client who had been a victim of gang rapes and druggings at parties attended by Brett Kavanaugh during high school, NBC News interviewed the client despite being unable to verify her (ludicrous) accusation. By last November, when he was arrested for domestic assault in Los Angeles, Avenatti had appeared on television more than 200 times in the space of 8 months.
On the morning I wrote this column a federal grand jury indicted Avenatti on 36 counts, including fraud. “Defendant AVENATTI would embezzle and misappropriate settlement proceeds to which he was not entitled,” reads just one sentence of the mind-boggling 61-page indictment. What media authorities had presented as true—that Avenatti was a serious attorney whose evidence would destroy the Trump presidency—has been revealed, once again, as utterly fallacious, a con. It’s up to the jury to decide if Michael Avenatti is a criminal. What’s beyond dispute, has been for a while, is that he is an unserious person, out for attention, celebrity, the notoriety and status fame brings. In the months of his ascendance, however, cable anchors and journalists did their best to avoid or downplay the truth of Avenatti’s character, lest it distract from their attack on the president’s.
As the influence of establishment media outlets has waned, their attempts to control the narrative have intensified. The cable networks and major print outlets have become more politicized, not less, as social media and streaming video make it much easier to expose hoaxes and puncture holes in the received wisdom. The Sentinels who protect the liberal media matrix are vigilant against thoughtcrime, they anathematize dissent, but they are less interested in the canons of professional journalism, such as presenting both sides of a story and refraining from baseless speculation. Right now they are heralding Ilhan Omar for her courage, turning Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez into the flag-bearer of the Democratic Party, and confident that no matter the opposition Trump will be defeated. Best be skeptical. As with all the other bogus stories, reality will make itself felt in the end. It always does.
By Conrad Black • National Review
The crisis of the Democrats is becoming more evident each week. Those of us who have been loudly predicting for years that the Russian-collusion argument would be exposed as a defamatory farce, and that the authors of it would eventually pay for it, are bemused at the fallback position of the Trump-haters: that the distinguished attorney general has whitewashed the president in his summary and his decision that there was no obstruction of justice. One of the most entertaining moments of news-watching in many years came last week, when former national intelligence director James Clapper said it was “scary” and former FBI director Comey said it was “bizarre” to hear Attorney General William Barr say that the Trump campaign had been spied on. It has been obvious for a long time that both these men and former CIA director John Brennan lied under oath on a number of occasions, and Comey’s complaint last week that “court-ordered surveillance” wasn’t spying is going to get a full assessment when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) warrants that were the court authorization in this case, and were obtained on the basis of false campaign smears assembled and paid for by the Clinton campaign, are judicially considered.
Given the proportions of the scam that has been perpetrated, the principal actors, including those just named, deserve commendation for the imperishability of their unctuousness. These people seem still to be oblivious to the fact that lying under oath and producing false FISA applications are serious offenses. And some of the congressional Democrats, such as Congressmen Nadler, Swallwill, and Schiff (the new-millennium version of “Martin, Barton, and Fish,” made infamous by FDR in 1940), seem to think they have a perfect constitutional right to keep the president in the pillory of their spurious investigations indefinitely. The whole edifice of the Trump moral crisis is coming down in shards around the ears of the Clinton and Obama Democrats.
By Harris Alic • Washington Free Beacon
Small business owners are pushing back against Democratic mischaracterizations of President Donald Trump’s signature Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
More than a year after the legislation went into effect—slashing personal and corporate tax rates across the board—the focus has shifted from worker bonuses and wage increases to shrinking tax refunds. The latter, resulting from a decrease in the level of taxes paid throughout the year and changes to the Internal Revenue Service’s withholding formula, has increasingly become fodder for Democrats eager to portray the cuts as a “scam” to benefit the wealthy.
In reality, the issue is more complicated, as Alfredo Ortiz, the president of the Jobs Creator Network (JCN), told the Washington Free Beacon. Ortiz’s group, which represents a diverse coalition of small businesses and bills itself “as the voice of Main Street,” has been working to educate voters on the benefits of the tax cuts ahead of the April 15 IRS filing deadline. JCN believes that if Democrats are allowed to win the debate over tax refunds, it will make it easier for the party to eventually push for a full repeal of the Trump tax cuts at a later date.
By Warren Henry • The Federalist
After almost two weeks of critical media coverage of Joe Biden’s handsy history, poll after poll indicates most Democrats do not care. The latest Quinnipiac poll—of California, no less—has the yet-to-announce Biden easily leading Bernie Sanders and favorite daughter Kamala Harris. This poll also has Harris performing better among white liberals than nonwhite voters.
These findings are mostly news to the progressive elites at the top of Democratic politics and the establishment media. The data suggesting the Democratic Party is an upstairs/downstairs coalition in which a small faction of disproportionately white progressives dominate a more diverse rank-and-file has been piling up in studies by More in Common, Pew, and Gallup. In recent days, some in the media have finally begun to notice.
At The New York Times, resident propellerheads Nate Cohn and Kevin Quealy find that “[t]oday’s Democratic Party is increasingly perceived as dominated by its ‘woke’ left wing. But the views of Democrats on social media often bear little resemblance to those of the wider Democratic electorate.” They add: “The outspoken group of Democratic-leaning voters on social media is outnumbered, roughly 2 to 1, by the more moderate, more diverse and less educated group of Democrats who typically don’t post political content online.”
Cohn and Quealy report that approximately a quarter of Democrats are progressive ideologues; only a tenth might identify as democratic socialists. “The rest of the party is easy to miss,” they write. “Not only is it less active on social media, but it is also under-represented in the well-educated, urban enclaves where journalists roam.” Continue reading
By Christopher Jacobs • The Federalist
In talking about his single-payer bill, which he reintroduced in the Senate on Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders often claims that “I want to end the international embarrassment of the United States of America being the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people as a right and not a privilege.”
But his legislation would do no such thing. Understanding why demonstrates the inherent drawbacks of his government-centered approach to health policy.
Section 201(a) illustrates the catch in Sanders’ bill, and his philosophy. That section states that “individuals enrolled for benefits under this Act are entitled to have payment made…to an eligible provider” for a list of covered services. Note the wording: Sanders’ bill doesn’t guarantee access to care. Instead, it merely guarantees that people will have their care covered—if they can access it. But in government-run systems, finding access to care often proves no easy feat.
In our own country, low reimbursement rates in many state Medicaid programs can make finding doctors difficult. One 2011 study found that two-thirds of specialist physicians would not accept Medicaid patients, whereas only 11 percent of patients with Continue reading
Elections,” the man once said, “have consequences.”
In 2016, the need to fill a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court was a consequence foremost in the minds of voters. That the pick ended up being made by Donald Trump’s and not Hillary Rodham Clinton helped stoke the partisan rancor that has the country divided and beleaguered.
A Clinton pick would have turned the court to the left for the first time in decades. Trump’s first nominee preserved the originalist wing of the court. His second appointment solidified it. And the voters apparently approve. Pollster Scott Rasmussen recently found 61 percent of voters approve of the way the court is doing its job. The high level of confidence, he says, tracks back at least as far as August 2018, and 59 percent of those surveyed think the court’s power is at about the right level.
Chief Justice John Roberts, whom some conservatives regard as the weakest of the adherents to originalism currently on the court, has been accused of making compromises on legal points to protect the court’s reputation. The Rasmussen numbers suggest the strategy’s worked, at least to this point. Still, as Roberts’ deciding vote to uphold the constitutionality of the tax/penalty piece of Obamacare illuminates, the court’s power to decide legislative disputes is now firmly entrenched in the American system. This may not have been the founder’s intent, but the court now has the last word on controversial matters that many continue to argue should be settled in and by the legislature.
Right now, with the court stacked five to four against for the foreseeable future, the Left is up in arms. Seeking a fix, several candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination have embraced the idea of expanding the size of the Supreme Court, formerly an obscure idea emanating from the academy. “Plain and simple, the Democrats are seeking to get through legislation what they couldn’t achieve at the ballot box,” says Brad Blakeman, a former Bush White House staffer. “They are seeking to add judges, not fill vacancies, which is totally subverting the system.”
This is why the confirmation of new justices has been, since Reagan-appointee Robert Bork was defeated, so confrontational. Everything happens with outcomes in mind. Blakeman’s point is well taken. If the court really did need to be expanded, it could be done now. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who wants to follow Trump in the White House, could drop a bill doing that next week. But what she and others intend is pure politics: Win the election first, then pack the court with liberals, end critical debates once and for all, and leave the Left in power forever.
It’s a powerful temptation. Franklin Roosevelt famously proposed the addition of new associate justices to the court to assist its older members who, surprise, surprise, would probably also be voting to uphold the constitutionality of New Deal measures the court had been striking down.
That, says David Norcross, a former Republican National Committee general counsel and former head of the Republican National Lawyers’ Association, was a bad idea then and would be now.
“Presidents have suffered from this since Chief Justice Marshall declared the independence of the courts. Fortunately, Congress, including some Democrats, thought the better of FDR’s court-packing scheme and acknowledged the Constitution and the founders’ reasoning,” Norcross says.
To thousands of other legal and presidential scholars all over America, the point of the court is its independence – and always has been. Packing the court would upend that.
“Democrats keep criticizing the president for trampling all over political “norms” and call him a dictator. But here we see them so upset at losing the last election they want to trample all over the “norms” and completely change the rules of the game to favor themselves, says political strategist Mike Shields.
The irony is the cure is worse than alleged disease. Just as Democrats have continued to protest, to “resist” the outcome of the 2016 election even though Trump was, famously, the only candidate ever asked about it in televised debates. It is those who oppose him who have come with the idea of loading up the court with compliant liberal justice in order to produce desired outcomes in a way that demeans if not erodes the constitutional system.
“Once Congress decides to add justices the race to chaos commences. Add two new justices, then if not satisfied with the outcomes, add two more. It will get easier to do so each time until the Court resembles a third, albeit smaller, legislative body which has become entirely political,” says Norcross. “An independent Court is an indispensable ingredient of the system of checks and balances. A Supreme Court concerned that a politically unpopular decision or decisions will result in adding new justices isn’t independent anymore.”
By Kevin D. Williamson • National Review
The Senate. The Electoral College. The First Amendment. The Second Amendment. The Supreme Court. Is there a part of our constitutional order that the Democrats have not pledged to destroy?
There are some Democrats out there in the sticks — a lot of them, in fact — who simply don’t understand the constitutional order. They believe that the United States is a democracy, John Adams et al. be damned, and, in fact, they often are confused by the frankly anti-democratic features of the American order, because they have been taught (theirs is a pseudo-education consisting of buzzwords rather than an actual education) that “democratic” means “good” and “undemocratic” means “bad.”
But the Democrats in Washington are a different story. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris went to law school. They understand the American constitutional order just fine.
And they hate it.
The American order is complex — it is much more sophisticated than “democracy,” which assumes that nothing stands between the individual and the national state except aggregation, that might (defined as 50 percent + 1) makes right. The American order is based on the idea that the United States consists of many different kinds of people in many different kinds of communities, and that each of these has interests that are legitimate even when they conflict with the equally legitimate interests of other communities. The densely populous urban mode of life is not the only mode of life, and the people of the urban areas are not entitled by their greater numbers to dominate their fellow citizens in the less populous rural areas.
The basic units of the United States are, as the name suggests, the several states. The states created the federal government, not the other way around. The states are not administrative subdivisions of the federal government, which is their instrument, not their master. In this, the United States is fundamentally different from countries such as the United Kingdom and Japan, which have unitary national governments under which provincial distinctions are largely irrelevant.
In our system, the states matter. Under the Democrats’ vision, some states matter: California, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ohio, which, without the institutions of federalism, have among them the numbers and the power to effectively dominate the rest of the country.
At the time of the Founding, the people of the smaller states did not desire to enter into a union in which they and their interests would be dominated by the larger ones. The people of the smaller states still do not wish to be politically dominated by the larger ones. For that reason, the interests of the states as such — not mere aggregates of voters — are taken into consideration. The Senate, as originally organized, existed to preserve the interests of the states as such against the opportunism and predation of the more populous House of Representatives — and against the ambitions of the executive, too. Turning the Senate into an inflated version of the House was one of the progressives’ first great victories against the Constitution of the United States and an important step toward the sort of mass democracy that our constitutional order is explicitly designed to prevent.
But the states have other protections as well, one of which is the Electoral College, which helps to ensure that the president — the Founders were right to fear presidential ambition — is not a mere tribune of the plebs, a rider upon “the beast with many heads” empowered by the mob at his back to abuse and dominate members of minority groups — smaller states, religious minorities, political minorities, etc.
The rights of minorities are further protected — from democracy — by the Constitution’s limitations on the power of the federal government and specifically by the Bill of Rights, which places some considerations above democracy: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to security in one’s home and papers, etc. One of the main constitutional functions of the Supreme Court is to see to it that the federal government does not violate the Bill of Rights, even when We the People demand that it does — especially then, actually: Rights that enjoy wide popular support require very little constitutional protection. It is the unpopular rights that require protection.
Of course there were blemishes and oversights. Even the enlightened minds of the 18th century were hostages of their time, and the interests of African Americans and women were not taken into consideration. Those defects were corrected, partly by the shedding of blood but to a great extent by constitutional amendments that abolished slavery, enfranchised women, and brought the American people at large more fully into the constitutional system. The preamble to the Constitution describes a “more perfect union,” which is not the same thing as a perfect union. The genius of leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was that their calls to radical change ran against the grain of American society at their time but were perfectly in tune with the American idea and the principles of the American order.
The Democrats’ calls to radical change in 2019 are precisely the opposite: They are very much in keeping with the transient passions of the time but fundamentally opposed to the American constitutional order.
The Electoral College ensures that the citizens in the less popular states are not reduced to serfdom by the greater numbers (and greater wealth) of the people in the more populous states. This balancing of minority rights with democratic processes is a fundamental part of the American order (properly understood, the value of plebiscitary democracy is not substantive — majorities are at least as likely to be wicked and oppressive as virtuous and just — but purely procedural), and the Electoral College is the instrument by which that principle is applied to the election of presidents. The Democrats desire to abolish the Electoral College for purely self-interested reasons of partisanship: They think that there would be more Democratic presidents under unmediated mass democracy.
The First Amendment ensures that all Americans have the right to engage in political speech. Democrats wish to put political speech under heavy regulation, so that the people holding political power set the rules under which they may be criticized and debated. The Democrats have attempted to gut the First Amendment under the guise of “campaign finance” regulation, as though the right of free speech could be separated from the means of speech. It is worth bearing in mind that the Democrats’ latest attack on the First Amendment was occasioned by the desire of a political activist group to show a film critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the run-up to a presidential election — a film whose circulation the Democrats sought to prohibit as a “campaign finance” matter.
The Supreme Court stepped in to stop that, finding that the First Amendment means what it says. And now the Democrats propose to corrupt the Supreme Court, expanding the number of justices from nine to whatever number it takes for a future Democratic president to create a majority of Democratic partisans on the Court. They are counting on the same court-packing scheme to give them the power to effectively repeal the Second Amendment without having to bother to propose and ratify a constitutional amendment — a political fight that the Democrats would surely lose.
What the Democrats are proposing — abolishing the constitutional protections afforded to smaller states and political minorities, perverting the Supreme Court, gutting the Bill of Rights — amounts in sum to a revolution, replacing our government with a government of a very different character and structure.
They are doing this mainly because the Constitution prevents them from achieving their immediate short-term political goals. And we should be clear about what those immediate political goals actually are: muzzling their political opponents and those with unpopular political views, disarming the citizenry, stripping minority groups of political power, and rigging the political system in favor of their own constituents. They would, if given the power, burn down the American constitutional order and replace it with something closer to ordinary mob rule, plain and unapologetic ochlocracy. The United States is not drifting into fascism or socialism — it is drifting into anarchy.
That’s quite a fit to throw over Mrs. Clinton being denied her tiara.
The Republican party likes to position itself as the defender of the Constitution. But with a few exceptions (Senator Ben Sasse prominent among them), Republicans in elected office demonstrate very little appreciation for the actual stakes on the political table. For the moment, they are more concerned with defending the Trump administration — which, whatever you think of it, is a short-term concern — than with defending something that is far more important, far more precious, and, in all likelihood, impossible to replace. If 2016 taught us anything, it is that the Jeffersons and Madisons of this generation apparently are otherwise occupied, that our political leadership is for the time diminished, and that the institutions the Democrats propose to incinerate could not be rebuilt by contemporary Americans any more than modern Iraqis could successfully revive the Code of Hammurabi.
By Frank Miele • Real Clear Politics
I’ve avoided writing about the Green New Deal for the same reason that you stick your head under the covers when the boogeyman comes out at night — you hope, with any luck, it will just go away.
Unfortunately, it didn’t go away; it has replaced “health care for all” as the most dangerous arrow in the quiver of the progressive agenda, and it is aimed straight at the heart of American society.
Although Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is most closely associated with the Green New Deal, she is little more than a paid advertising spokeswoman for the revolutionary legislation, which aims to completely overthrow the American economic order within 10 years.
The most offensive element of the initial rollout of the plan was the guarantee of “Economic security to all who are unable or unwilling to work” (emphasis mine). Since shelling out trillions of dollars to lazy people is an idea offensive to millions of hard-working Americans, that proposal was rapidly “disappeared” from Ocasio-Cortez’s website, but even without that insulting nonsense, the entire package is a socialist nightmare waiting to happen.
Just look at the components of the plan that are acknowledged. The Green New Deal is not just a climate-change proposal; it is a forced re-invention of society — no less damaging than the forced relocation of the Cherokee Nation in the 19th century or the forced re-education of the Chinese nation during the Cultural Revolution in the 20th.
The resolution before Congress declares that it is the duty of the federal government “to create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States.” This one tiny component by itself demonstrates the socialist agenda underlying the GND. How exactly does the federal government “create” millions of jobs? How do federal bureaucrats ensure that they are high-wage jobs? How do they guarantee prosperity? Have Democrats never heard of a recession? Do they think that economic downturns can be legislated out of existence? It should be the duty of the federal government to stay out of the way and let the engine of capitalism work, as it always has, to create wealth, but instead this proposal wants the federal government to compete with private industry, to regulate it into submission, and to engineer the economy into something Stalin would be proud of.
In the “10-year national mobilization” envisioned by Green New Deal, the federal government would become the biggest Big Brother in history, dictating “improvements” in virtually every aspect of life. Oh, yes — “health care for all” is now just an unassuming asterisk among all the freebies and mandates being handed out. Among other things, this modest proposal would require the government to:
— Guarantee “universal access to clean water.”
— Meet “100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.”
— Upgrade “all existing buildings in the United States and [construct] new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification.”
— Build “a more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food.” [“Soylent Green,” anyone?]
— Provide “resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people of the United States.” [Note: not citizens.]
— Provide “all people of the United States” with high-quality health-care, “affordable, safe and adequate [Let the courts decide!] housing,” “economic security” [Oops! Does that actually include those unwilling to work?], and “clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and access to nature.”
— Guarantee “a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.”
That last provision is one of the many landmines in the Green New Deal that its authors either never thought through or, worse, included intentionally to subvert the national economy. We can start by noting that Social Security will now be paid out based not on how much you contributed, but on how much you need to feel “secure.” But there’s an even worse explosion waiting to happen:
If everyone is guaranteed a job with a “family-sustaining wage,” then workers in the future will be paid not based on the quality of their work or the value of their job, but on the size of their family. Obviously, a family of 10 needs more money to be sustained than a family of two. Plus, how do we guarantee “family-sustaining wages” to both parents in a working family? Is the intention to return families to the one-breadwinner model since each worker by definition will be able to provide for their family with a single income? Or will the two workers in a couple have to accept half wages because they are sharing responsibility for sustaining the family?
This is madness, but predictable madness. The best evidence of the chaos that ensues when a government orders massive social change in order to bring “justice” to the economy is Mao’s Great Leap Forward in China, where 60 million people perished to prove one man’s ideas wrong. The Ukrainian famine ordered by Stalin is a close second for sheer insanity, but doesn’t come anywhere near the human cost of Mao’s.
Earlier, I said that Ocasio-Cortez was the front person for the Green New Deal, not its author. That is obvious, but it doesn’t absolve her of responsibility for the horrors that would be unleashed should it come to pass. She has called the plan a “Green Dream,” but this is not the first time in history that a dream has turned into a nightmare. As Uncle Joe Stalin liked to say, “You gotta have a (five-year) plan.”
Okay, that’s slight poetic license. But Soviet Russia’s “five-year plans” were no joke. They wrecked Russia’s economy. The Green New Deal, on a 10-year time frame, would do the same.
Charismatic leaders with dangerous ideas can never be dismissed as just nuisances; they must be taken seriously — and stopped while they still can be. The Green New Deal has been assigned a price tag of $93 trillion by the former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office — and that’s just fiscal cost. Were its socialist agenda actually put in place, we have been warned that our forests would be denuded, the economy would be destroyed, and millions would perish of starvation. A small price to pay for a true believer like Ocasio-Cortez, but she isn’t the one who would be paying the price.
So now that the boogeyman is out of the closet — exposed as a socialist monster — we have no choice but to face our fears and kill it quickly and decisively. The alternative is unthinkable.
By Rich Lowry • National Review
The same Democrats outraged by Donald Trump’s alleged offenses against the First Amendment passed, as their first priority, a speech-restricting bill opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Trump shouldn’t call the media “the enemy of the people” or inveigh against Jeff Bezos for owning the Washington Post, but Nancy Pelosi’s H.R. 1, which passed the House last week, is the true affront to the Constitution.
The wide-ranging legislation purports to reform campaign finance with a series of vague, sweeping measures that will act to chill speech when they don’t actively regulate or squelch it. H.R. 1 is called the For the People Act but would be more aptly titled the Be Careful What You Say, It Might Be Illegal Act.
Progressives can’t abide the notion that people in this country get together to spend money on advocacy outside the purview of the government — in other words, freely promote their favored causes as befits a free people living in a free country.
H.R. 1 cracks the whip. As the Institute for Free Speech points out, the current campaign-finance rules limit expenditures that expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate, or refer to a candidate in public advertising shortly before an election. The idea is to have clear rules so groups can promote their views without fear of running afoul of federal regulations.
H.R. 1 blows this regime up. It seeks to regulate any speech at any time that “promotes or supports the candidate, or attacks or opposes an opponent of the candidate,” a fuzzy standard that could catch up all manner of nonelectoral messages (e.g., “Trump’s tariffs are a mistake,” or “Support Trump’s wall”).
H.R. 1 also widens the definition of coordination between a group and a candidate to encompass almost any communication. It’d still be permissible to discuss a candidate’s position on an issue, so long as there is no talk “regarding the candidate’s or committee’s campaign advertising, message, strategy, policy, polling, allocation of resources, fundraising, or other campaign activities.”
Even if a group doesn’t coordinate with a candidate under this loose standard, it could still be deemed to have coordinated if it were founded by someone who goes on to become a candidate; relies on the professional services of someone who also did work for a candidate; or is run by someone who had conversations about a campaign with the relative of a candidate.
On top of all this, H.R. 1 goes after the privacy of donors to advocacy organizations. It mandates the disclosure of the names and addresses of donors giving more than $10,000 to groups that engage in “campaign-related disbursements.” Given our toxic political environment, this would potentially subject the donors to harassment and abuse, and they might not even be aware of or support the communications in question.
Supporters of H.R. 1 say it is necessary to rein in super PACs, the frightening-sounding organizations that aren’t as unregulated as everyone believes (the Federal Election Commission gets reports of their expenditures and contributions). But, as the Institute for Free Speech notes, the bill affects a much broader array of “trade associations, unions, business groups, and advocacy organizations, such as Planned Parenthood and the National Right to Life Committee.”
Love them or hate them, these groups are part of the warp and woof of American public life, and they shouldn’t have to think twice before engaging in acts of persuasion that enrich and enliven our democracy, not corrupt it.
The Supreme Court has long put an emphasis on bright lines in its campaign-finance jurisprudence exactly to avoid a chilling effect on advocacy. It has said that laws must be “both easily understood and objectively determinable.” The campaign-finance provisions of H.R. 1 are neither.
What H.R. 1 makes abundantly clear is that the foremost threat to the First Amendment are the people who believe that there is something untoward about unregulated political speech and seek to bring it under control.