To Control Speech is to Control People and Politics

“There exists a special place in ignominy for American politicians who, having been extended the trust of their voters, turn upon a dime and attempt to undermine the protections of the constitutional order that put them in office.  And, within that special place, there exists an even smaller place, reserved for those whose ambitions lead them to pile transgression atop transgression and strike at many roots at once.”   Charles Cooke

We are beginning to see a series of concerted efforts to sabotage the First Amendment in an attempt to curtail the Second Amendment.  These efforts have taken many forms but they all have one thing in common – their authors understand that to control speech is to control people and thus to control politics.

The Democratic led House of Representatives passed HR 1 in March which they had the temerity to title “For the People Act.   One must ask: which people?  And, given that left-wing politicians are always in the habit of limiting the influence of anyone other than themselves or their agenda, the answer seems rather obvious.

HR 1 is a very long, complex bill that has provisions pertaining to a wide range of subjects, from voter registration and elections to campaign finance, judicial ethics, and lobbying.  Many of the provisions of are clearly unconstitutional; others just redundant and unnecessary, covering areas and issues where existing federal law is more than sufficient.   Many of the provisions are just bad policy that will neither help voters nor election officials in administering a fair and secure voter registration and election process.

It interferes with the ability of states to determine the qualifications of their voters, to secure the integrity of the election process, and to determine the districts and boundary lines of their representatives.

Overall,  HR 1 is nothing more than an attempt to federalize and micromanage the election process and impose unnecessary, unwise and in some cases unconstitutional mandates on the states; mandates that reverses the decentralization of the American election process that our Founders believed was essential to preserving liberty and freedom.  In fact, there are more than 30 new federal mandates in the more than 500 page bill that will be placed on states.

Among many provisions, the bill will require every state to implement online voting registration, without protections to verify eligibility.  It will allow for same-day registration and voting during the mandated early voting period and on Election Day as well as eliminate all state voter ID requirements, requiring only a signature. 

It will forever change the nonpartisan FEC agency into an overtly partisan enforcement tool controlled by a majority of commissions from the political party then in power.  Like other provisions,  this change to the FEC’s structure seemingly has been designed to maximize the chilling effect on groups that wish to express a view about their elected officials and what those officials are doing.

It also requires a host of onerous disclaimer requirements for those engaging in communications that mention a candidate or elected official, even if those communications are related to legislative issues. Given that current law already requires the clear identification of the group or individual responsible for a candidate communication, these new disclaimer requirements only serve to burden the exercise of speech, presumably to discourage it in the first place. 

As a matter of law, it will 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 non-electoral messages.    It widens the definition of coordination between a group and a candidate to encompass almost any communication.  While it will still be permissible to discuss a candidate’s position on an issue, any talk regarding the candidate’s campaign advertising, message, strategy, policy, polling, allocation  of resources, fundraising or other campaign activities will violate the law.

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.

Free speech and the robust debate of ideas have been the lynchpin of American democracy and progress for more than two centuries but this will all come to a screeching halt if Democrats ever regain power in D.C.

Source:  For the People Act of 2019, Heritage Foundation;  Will A Free People Allow Their Government To Gag Gun Owners?,  by C.W. Cooke, America’s First Freedom; Don’t Be Deceived, For the People Act Would Federalize Elections by Jordan Harris, Pegasus Institute, Courier Journal

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