Today, every election seems like a showdown with severe long-term consequences for the losing party. So it’s with a sort of horrified fascination that we observe U.S. Senate Democrats adopting a kamikaze strategy for 2014, gambling they can run against the First Amendment and win.
Rumblings about this started when the 2010 Citizens United decision cleared barriers to corporate – and union-funded issue advocacy, but last week Senate Democrat campaign mastermind Chuck Schumer formally proposed amending the Constitution to let the federal government regulate political speech.
Reflect on the enormity of what the New York Democrat hopes to do. There’s a reason why the First Amendment comes first: the Framers didn’t write it out of concern that people’s freedom to argue over a horse race might need special protection. They wrote it to warn off future governments that might otherwise seek to punish their critics. They wrote it precisely to prevent what Schumer seeks.
A Wall Street Journal editorial quoted Schumer saying “The Supreme Court is trying to take this country back to the days of the robber barons, allowing dark money to flood our elections.” You’ll be hearing a lot of “dark money” rhetoric from now on, mainly because Democrats who owe many of their election victories to union and far-left interest-group money passing under the radar don’t want competition.
But the real menace in Schumer’s words is his statement that “once and for all” laws no Supreme Court could overturn would regulate political speech. His is not the first political party to assert irrevocable powers. None of them have ended well.
Democrats are betting the farm that Americans won’t recognize an attack on somebody else’s speech as the prelude to an attack on their own. God help these United States if they’re right.