It’s amazing how swiftly and decisively liberals have turned against the concept of free expression in the Obama era. Sure, their allegiance to the concept of free speech was always… shall we say… conditional. Campus speech codes and political correctness have been with us for decades. The difference now is that all of the usual lip service for free speech is gone; an openly totalitarian agenda of suppressing inconvenient arguments is right out on the table, in everything from private-sector efforts to drive dissidents out of the public square, to proposed legislation. The Left has decided the empire of government power it built can no longer withstand criticism, for dissent dilutes power. Today’s conversation might lead to tomorrow’s unfortunate vote by proles who don’t know what’s good for them.
For the increasingly erratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the liberal mania for suppressing dissent merged with his deranged crusade against the Koch Brothers, and leftist mythology surrounding the hated Citizens United Supreme Court decision, to produce the lunacy of a proposed Constitutional amendment that would overturn the Court’s decision… effectively repealing a big chunk of the First Amendment. Of course, the ruling liberal regime would make copious exception for money from billionaires they like. Reid dreams of a world where the aristocracy doles out speech rights to its friends, warmly accepting millions from leftists like George Soros, Tom Steyer, and union bosses, while crushing the “dark money” meddling of those who disagree with them.
For those who think Reid is a lunatic obsessed with the Koch Brothers, you may be relieved to know that he’s not totally focused on them. He hates their father, too:
In case you don’t have the stomach to sit through all that, Reid is throwing his support behind a bill introduced by two other Senators, Mark Udall (D-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO), to effectively neutralize the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, granting Congress broad powers to limit campaign contributions via a Constitutional amendment. We can at least give Reid a little credit for honesty in his completely lack of pretense that this power would be used impartially.
The Koch Brothers, of course, are nowhere near the top of the political donor ecosystem, contrary to Harry Reid’s insane ravings. But of course, the point of all this is to implement a regime of selective permissible speech whose standards would be entirely arbitrary, determined at the whims of a Stalinist ruling class. Democrats are pushing pretty hard for the idea that the big problem with America is excessive freedom. If only we could amend the Constitution to give our titanic all-intrusive government even more power, Utopia would finally be within reach!
Looking back to today’s other big dose of banana-republic news, when Lois Lerner gave the criteria for IRS targeting of conservative political groups to Treasury investigators, one of the four “triggers” she mentioned was “statements in the case file that are critical of how the country is being run.” That’s a perfect distillation of what Democrats want: a defense mechanism to insulate the system they have created from effective political opposition. The Party of the State wants the monster it has created to have fangs and claws. When it’s time to decide which political donations are evil “dark money” under the gutted First Amendment Reid envisions, you can bet causes useful to the growth of the State (like radical environmentalism, or organized labor) will get a pass, while those opposed to the agenda of the State will be judged unworthy of free-speech protection. How often have prominent Democrats already referred to Tea Party activists as un-American, or even treasonous?
You might say I’m taking Reid’s prattle too seriously, because his goofy anti-First Amendment proposal has no chance of passage. This is showmanship, a circus designed to buttress Democrat campaign rhetoric against the evil Koch Brothers, and fire up the dimmer members of their dispirited voting base.
Fine, but people like the Senate Majority Leader are still responsible for what they say, and for the ideas they promote. And the people of the United States expect their Senate to be used as something other than a soapbox for delusional crusades against the Majority Leader’s political enemies, or rants about how much better America would be if the dratted Constitution didn’t thwart the ambitions of the ruling Party. Ten thousand Harry Reid fatwas against Koch Industries will create not a single job.
Republicans would be incredibly foolish not to use this to their political advantage in the midterm elections. Want two more years of a crazy man using the Senate to deliver endless tirades against law-abiding private citizens he doesn’t like? Vote Democrat. Want a real shot at jobs and growth, maybe some good bills with enough support to get past Barack Obama’s veto pen… or, at least, the clarity of forcing him to use that pen, setting the stage for the 2016 presidential election? Then vote Republican, and take that gavel away from Harry Reid before he hurts himself with it.