On October 23, 2019, the House passed, HR 4617, the Stop Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy Act, aka the SHIELD Act, introduced by Representative Zoe Lofgren of California. Included within this bill was HR 4703, Defending Elections for Foreign Efforts to Negate Democracy, aka the Defend Act, introduced by Representative Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania.
The Shield Act requires that candidates and political committees notify the FBI and other authorities if a foreign power offers campaign help, tightens restrictions on campaign spending by foreign nationals, and requires more transparency in political ads on social media.
All sounds good, right? Well it isn’t. To begin with the bill requires candidates to only report contact by foreign nationals, but not to report when they themselves contact foreign nationals for assistance as was done in the 2016 election. Another major problem is that it allows the ruling party to determine what is or is not “legitimate journalistic activities,” thus giving them the power to silence the media. Another provision would force American citizens wishing to engage in political speech to jump through numerous hoops to get the government’s permission.
The bill, which reads like a fantasy recap of what Democrats want to believe happened in 2016, is just another thinly veiled attempt to prop up their impeachment process against Trump. It focuses on communications and interactions between foreign individuals and American political campaigns. Not only are many of these provisions redundant and needless, they also fail to strike at the root of Russian (and other nations’) interference in our elections, the bulk of which come via free social media platforms.
In reality, Russia spent very little money buying ads on social media platforms. The vast majority of their efforts which included vast troll farms of users who studied and mimicked American social media users to create discord, was free. Russia’s efforts were unfortunately somewhat successful, sometimes leading to “in real life” events organized by followers of the fake accounts.
According to the Mueller report, it also led several media outlets to report on these fake, often offensive accounts, as if they came from regular Americans. Unfortunately, unlike the proposed GOP bill that lays out punishments for foreign governments that engage in these activities, the SHIELD Act does nothing to deter them.
The Democratic bill is, in short, a solution to something that we now know was not the problem. They are just hoping to take control of the election process in order to assure that no one other than the left ever is allowed to hold office.
Republicans view the bill for what it is, a thinly veiled attempt to prop up the impeachment process against Trump and instill fear among Americans engaged in political activity. And before you left wing liberals get your panties in a wad, the ACLU doesn’t like it either. They claim that it “strikes the wrong balance, sweeping too broadly and encompassing more speech than necessary to achieve its legitimate goal” of preventing foreign interference in U.S. Elections.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the bill was dead on arrival in the Senate even though he did support an effort to spend $250 million in additional election security funds to shore up state election systems ahead of 2020. President Trump promised that if this unconstitutional interference in our First Amendment rights hits his desk, he will veto it, calling it “redundant, overly broad and unenforceable.”
I guess there is no end to the left’s treachery and determination to negate the legitimate election of anyone other than themselves.