Of course there’s no chance a Republican-controlled House of Representatives would consider the proposal to gut the First Amendment Senate Democrats tried to take up last Thursday.
What’s troublesome, though, is that a majority of the U.S. Senate voted in favor of the measure to remove First Amendment protection for “the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.”
In case it got lost in the muddle of moralizing what passes for civics education in modern America, the activities under attack are at the heart of the Amendment’s reason for existing: It’s not about protecting the freedom to yell dirty words at the opposing hockey team—though that’s presumably covered too—it’s about protecting the freedom to celebrate or criticize the policies and practices of government.
The latter is what Senate Democrats hope to stamp out.
And generic use of the collective “Senate Democrats” is not painting too broadly. Fifty-two of the 53 (New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand didn’t vote,) supported their amendment gutting the First Amendment. It failed to reach a vote on passage only because 60 were needed to move it to that stage. Under the Senate’s current partisan makeup, it takes five Republican crossovers to make that possible. This time there were none.
Recent court actions in Ohio, Minnesota and Texas have exposed government reprisals including the threat of financial ruin and imprisonment to eradicate political competition. With their cynical amendment purporting to “advance democratic self-government and political equality,” Democrats would advance an assault already well underway against America’s most basic freedom.
Without a single dissenting vote they identified themselves last Thursday—fittingly, September 11—as a party with totalitarian aspirations.