H.R. 1 tramples speech and election rights to consolidate Democrat power

Op-EdAppeared in Washington Times on March 12, 2021By Alfredo Ortiz

Democrats’ slim majority in Congress isn’t enough to pass their radical agenda, so they want to ram through legislation under the guise of “voters rights” to expand it.

H.R. 1, the misnamed For the People Act, which House Democrats passed last week, would allow them to secure political outcomes they’d never achieve in a free marketplace of ideas and fair elections.

Senators must oppose the Senate version of this bill not only to prevent it from becoming law but also to signal to Democrats that they can’t change the rules of the game to tilt the playing field. And Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona must resist relentless intra-party pressure to change their minds about preserving the legislative filibuster, which prevents bad bills like this from passing with a simple Senate majority.

H.R. 1 is a two-part attack on American founding ideals, undermining freedom of speech and election rights — two of the biggest impediments to total Democratic Party rule. The legislation poses an existential threat to right-of-center political groups because it requires nonprofits to disclose the names of their significant donors. This provision ostensibly shines a light on “dark money.” In reality, it’s an effort to defund political groups that impede Democrats’ progress.

In today’s cancel culture, outed donors to non-politically correct causes would be de-platformed and blacklisted. They would lose jobs, relationships and reputations. Consider how the former Mozilla CEO was ousted after it was uncovered that he donated to a disfavored cause.

More recently, companies like In-N-Out Burger, New Balance, and Coors faced mass boycotts after leaders donated to President Donald Trump. Democrats know that if Americans are forced to choose between their ideals and their livelihoods, they will pick the latter, starving political groups of the funds they need to operate effectively.

Privacy is an integral part of free speech, dating back to the Federalist Papers. The Supreme Court upheld donor privacy in 1958 after Alabama required the NAACP’s membership list, ruling that such forced disclosure would likely affect the free association of its members.

Justice John Marshall Harlan II wrote for the majority: “Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs.” Sadly, promoting free enterprise and American ideals have become dissident opinions in today’s mainstream culture.

No wonder even the American Civil Liberties Union, which almost always sides with Democrats, opposes this H.R. 1 provision.

H.R. 1 also federalizes elections, which have constitutionally and historically been left to the states. It would make the 2020 election a dress rehearsal for permanent election chaos by mandating ballot harvesting and eliminating commonsense protections against voter fraud.

The bill says that states “may not put any limit on how many voted and sealed absentee ballots any designated person can return.” Last-minute activist drop-offs of pillowcases stuffed with ballots would become the election norm.

State laws requiring identification for absentee ballots would be trashed. So would laws requiring witness signatures on mail-in ballots. As a result, voter fraud would increase and turn Election Day into Election Mail-In Month. The bill also restructures the Federal Election Commission from a bipartisan split of Democrats and Republicans to add an “independent” commissioner. This is nothing short of a Democratic Party power grab, as the independent-in-name-only would surely side with Democrats on nearly all issues.

H.R. 1 allows Democrats to Zamboni the ice of obstacles to slide their radical agenda past the goal line. It poses a grave threat to democracy, the self-styled defenders of which in Congress and the media seem all too happy to ignore for partisan gain.

Alfredo Ortiz is the president and CEO of the Job Creators Network.