**Posted by Phineas
Upset by court rulings that, in effect, declare that “free speech” really means free speech, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced a constitutional amendment granting Congress sweeping powers to regulate campaign expenditures, both monetary and “in kind.” This amendment has the full support of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):
“The shadowy Koch brothers are attempting… a hostile takeover of American democracy,” Reid charged Thursday. “No one should be able to pump unlimited funds into a political campaign.”
Reid urged his fellow lawmakers to support a proposed constitutional amendment, written by Democratic Sen. Tom Udall and co-sponsored by 40 of the Senate’s 55 Democrats, that would give Congress the right to regulate all political contributions and all spending of any kind in all federal elections. (It would also give states the power to do the same in state elections.) The Supreme Court has held such far-reaching restrictions to be unconstitutional, which is why Reid wants to take the extreme step of changing the nation’s founding document.
“Amending our Constitution is not something we take lightly,” Reid said. “But the flood of special interest money into our American democracy is one of the greatest threats our system of government has ever faced.”
You know, I fully expect Reid to soon start ranting about strawberries. But, back to the Left’s latest assault on free speech, here’s the key excerpt from the proposed amendment:
Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to federal elections, including setting limits on (1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, federal office, and (2) the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.
Byron York is right, of course: this amendment has no chance of passing the Senate and House, where two-thirds votes are needed, nor has it any chance of being approved by three-fourths of the state legislatures. It’s another attempt to find an issue that will get their base voters excited for the coming election and distract from the rolling Obamacare disaster by invoking two great liberal demons — the Koch brothers (1) and the Citizens United decision.
What is disturbing, however, is Reid and the Democrats’ willingness to put themselves on record as willing to curb our fundamental freedoms, free speech being a natural, unalienable right, in pursuit of short-term electoral goals. It’s emblematic of progressivism, which sees the Constitution as obsolete, and of the Democrats’ predilection for putting their narrow electoral interests ahead of the nation’s well-being — for instance, undercutting American forces even before they enter battle in order to oppose a Republican president. It’s not new, however; we’ve seen plenty of examples in recent years of anti-democratic Democrats, such as former Governor Perdue of North Carolina suggesting that congressional elections be delayed, something not even done during the Civil War, largely because her party was set to do poorly.
It’s not that this amendment would be unconstitutional –by the nature of the process, ratification would make it part of the Constitution and therefore “constitutional”– but its very nature is profoundly and disturbingly anti-constitutional, striking at the concepts of natural rights that are foundational to the Republic. Political speech must be free to have any meaning at all, and that includes expressing your political opinions by donating money and time or other property to further a cause or support a candidate. That the Democrats would think of attacking this fundamental freedom in order to excite their base speaks of a deep rot within their party (2), something that should concern us all.
PS: Take a look at this list of the biggest donors since 1989, and note a couple of things: first, 11 of the top 16 at least lean Democratic. You don’t find one that leans Republican until number 17. And the evil Koch brothers, whom Harry Reid denounces daily like Cato demanding the destruction of Carthage, only place 59th on the list. That alone reveals the vile cynicism of his bleatings: the Majority Leader of the United States Senate by name demagoguing against two American citizens, regardless of the truth. Second, the proposed amendment would require statutes passed by Congress to be implemented. Take a good look again at that donor list: unions and other groups have donated tens of millions to the Democrats, with unions also providing invaluable in-kind donations in the form of campaign volunteers. Does anyone think the Democrats, given half a chance, wouldn’t write implementing legislation that somehow allowed these groups to keep right on helping Democrats? If so, raise your hand; I have a bridge to sell you.
(1) A pair of libertarian billionaires who are apparently plotting to take over the government with the horrifying goal of leaving us alone. Where do I sign up?
(2) Not that I wholly excuse Republicans. John McCain’s sponsorship of the hateful McCain-Feingold bill revealed him as a constitutional lightweight.
UPDATE: National Review’s Charles Cooke wrote about this a few days and had the following to say:
The move is the final act of a contrived and hamfisted morality play, whose purpose is to cast the Democratic party and its allies as champions of the people and the Kochs as a proxy for all that ails America. Lofty as its broader goal may seek to be, the whole endeavor nevertheless carries with it the ugly smack of the Bill of Attainder — of a change to the nation’s constitutional settlement that serves largely to punish two people that the man with the gavel disdains. Rambling in the general direction of a BuzzFeed reporter earlier this week, Reid inadvertently revealed something about his motivations. His reelection to the Senate in 1998, he griped, “was awful”: “I won it, but just barely. I felt it was corrupting, all this corporate money.” Translation: I almost lost my seat once, so I need the supreme law to protect me. Corruption, schmorruption. This is about power.
Do read the whole thing.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)