Where to begin? Let’s start with President Joe Biden’s over-the-top rhetoric about Republican resistance to H.R.1, the constitutionally dubious “For the People” Act the House passed that among other things nationalizes elections. Its dubious constitutionality partly owes to Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution which reads:
“The Times, Places and Manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators.”
The Bill is such a constitutional nightmare—and an assault on free speech and federalism—that both the ACLU and the Institute for Free Speech have objected to it. Their respective briefs can be found here and here.
Let’s move beyond the constitutional objections and think about what the allegedly moderate Joe Biden actually said in his quest to get H.R.1. enacted into law. Among other things, he said that recent laws either passed or being considered in state legislatures (e.g., Georgia, Florida and Texas being prime examples) are the most “significant threat to our Democracy since the Civil War”.
That would make it a greater threat than Woodrow Wilson’s habit of tossing political opponents in jail. Or Watergate. Or World War II. Or the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. Or the Kill List that shows up on the President’s desk every day. Or the NSA’s domestic spying habits. Or the use of the IRS as political enforcer. Or the phony FISA warrants proffered by the FBI during the various investigations of Donald Trump. Or FDR’s Court Packing scheme.
To continue, Biden went on to say that the bills that H.R.1. is meant to counteract represents 21st century Jim Crow; are “subversion and suppression” and a sure sign of of an emerging autocracy.
So let’s step back for a minute and consider what the misnamed “For the People Act” actually proposes to do to “protect our democracy”. David Harsani of National Review points out: “the For the People Act would force states to count mail-in votes that arrive up to ten days after Election Day; compel them to legalize ballot harvesting; ban them from having voter-ID laws; empower bureaucrats to redraw congressional districts; require states to allow felons to vote; undermine free-speech rights by imposing a new array of burdens on civic groups, unions, and nonprofit organizations; force states to count ballots cast by voters who are in the wrong precincts; prohibit election officials from reviewing eligibility of voters; and bar officials from removing ineligible voters from the rolls. See article here.
Since most of the requirements specified in the 800 page H.R.1. are new, it’s hard to understand why Democrats who got elected without the new requirements are all of a sudden decrying those very same election laws. And not to out too fine a point on it, even after the supposedly authoritarian Republican laws got enacted, the voting systems of Florida and Texas have far more liberal rules for voting than does, for instance, Delaware—the state that spent 50 years or so electing Joe Biden to he Senate. That’s where he made friends with such notable defenders of minority rights as Herman Talmadge and Strom Thurmond among others. So it’s hard to see where Mr. Biden’s principled objection lies.
It should be pretty obvious where the Democrats are headed here. They are setting the stage to challenge the legitimacy of the 2022 and 2024 elections—if they lose. It is a cardinal rule, held dear by by the Democratic Party leadership, that the definition of a legitimate election is one in which they win. After all, they challenged the legitimacy of the Presidential elections of 2000, 2004 and 2016. Not to mention that Stacey Abrams has yet to concede the Georgia gubernatorial race of 2018.
The assault on the constitutional order being orchestrated by the Democratic Party leadership is pernicious. In its stealth the Act stands in contrast to Donald J Trump’s final frontal assault on the rule of law, culminating on January 6, 2021. And it is a disgrace that only a tiny segment of elected Republicans are willing to acknowledge the blindingly obvious fact that Donald Trump tried to overturn an election by the use of force.
On the other hand, the progressive assault, in which the whole of the Democratic Party leadership is complicit, is but a piece of a longer term project targeted at the institutions of a free society, most particularly the first amendment. At root that makes the political question rather stark. Do you wish to vote for a bunch of cowards who are terrified of their base? Or do you wish to goose-step your way into a future run by the latest bunch of predictably certain-to-fail utopian saviors whose authoritarian tendencies reveal themselves daily?
Or you can adopt a sensible approach and support classical liberals independent of their of party status.