“Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would at the same time be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.”
— James Madison,
Federalist No. 10
“This is what democracy looks like!” We’ve all seen the protest signs and heard the chants from bullhorns. It’s enough to make those who recall their high school civics classes wince at the ignorance displayed.
Our founders were products of the enlightenment and apt students of history. They had witnessed firsthand the oppression of tyranny and failures of government to protect the rights of individual citizens. And they were cognizant of the abuses of Athenian democracy that allowed a majority to vote to silence the dissident voice of Socrates.
This is why the United States of America was founded as a republic rather than a democracy. The form was and is federalist, i.e., a union of sovereign states with a central government of enumerated, and thus limited, powers. This framework is outlined in clear language in our Constitution.
H.R. 1 – For The People Act 2019, passed in the House of Representatives on March 8, with a “yea” vote by Rep. Katie Hill, D-Agua Dulce.
Although the legislation is purportedly “For The People,” with campaign finance reform and voter enfranchisement features, in fact it usurps voting control from states and centralizes it to politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C, ignoring unique factors within disparate states and presuming one standard is fit for all.
Here are some salient features of the legislation not communicated by Rep. Katie Hill:
• Forces all states to implement automatic voter registration, same-day registration, online voter registration, early voting, and no-fault absentee balloting.
• Online registration without validation tied to a state-issued ID like a driver’s license.
• Inhibits states from using residency validation databases such as U.S. Postal Service’s national change-of-address system to ensure voter registration accuracy and prohibit voting in multiple states, etc.
• Prohibits state election officials from participating in federal elections and replaces legislators with non-voter accountable “independent” commissions to determine voting districts based on updated census data.
• Adds multiple compliance and reporting requirements to place onerous burdens on smaller organizations participating in political speech online.
There are many more provisions than space permits detailing in this column and they’re consistent in removing local control and centralizing power in a way that violates the premise of our federalist system, i.e., government is best when closest and accountable to the governed.
Campaign finance “reform” is reliably a cover for government control of speech. It was no accident that Rep. Hill was accompanied by Mr. Scott Fay of End Citizens United in her first local Town Hall. That organization’s objective is to effectively reverse the 2010 Supreme Court’s decision on the regulation of political speech.
Here’s the ACLU’s position on that effort:
“Any rule that requires the government to determine what political speech is legitimate and how much political speech is appropriate is difficult to reconcile with the First Amendment. Our system of free expression is built on the premise that the people get to decide what speech they want to hear; it is not the role of the government to make that decision for them.”
We’ve read about Democratic Party presidential candidates floating the possibility of eliminating the Electoral College, the constitutional compromise that enables states, via popular votes within them, to elect presidents, rather than a national popular vote that cedes de facto control to a few large population states.
It’s not difficult to imagine a federalized electoral system dictating how states award their electors, leading to a tyranny of the majority that our founders deliberately structured our republic to avoid.
Fortunately, outright elimination of the Electoral College requires a constitutional amendment. And our current divided government relegates H.R. 1 to the discard pile.
However, do not mistake what Rep. Katie Hill and her Democratic Party/NGO minders intend, i.e., Washington, D.C., bureaucratic control of Federal elections.
Ron Bischof is a Santa Clarita resident.