Since its passage in the House of Representatives on 3 March, the H.R. 1 For the People Act of 2021 has been lauded as a major election reform and voting rights bill by Democrats. However, in the eyes of the GOP it's "an unconstitutional, reckless, and anti-democratic bill that could permanently damage our republic", as former Vice President Mike Pence described it in a tweet last week.
Why H.R. 1 is Not Actually About 'Voting Rights'
"Nancy Pelosi's top priority is to turn America into a one-party nation ruled by Democrats", wrote Betsy McCaughey, a Republican politician and former Lieutenant Governor of New York in her 7 March op-ed for the Boston Herald. "Her bill H.R. 1 trashes the US Constitution in an attempt to rig the system and make it virtually impossible to elect a Republican president or Congress again. It's a power grab".
While conservative pundits and think tanks have detailed the possible ramifications of loosened election rules, expanded mail-in voting, ballot harvesting, as well as placing three extra Democratic lawmakers in the US Congress via the Washington, DC statehood provision, the libertarian Cato Institute remarks that election integrity is not the only thing at stake here.
In fact, the bill would assert federal control over a broad array of areas of American life far beyond the scope of elections and campaigns, writes the Cato Institute's Walter Olson:
· first, it "would require disclosure of the names of many persons who donate to organisations that engage in policy‐oriented speech", thus chilling free speech;
· second, it would require all US politics-related social media posts written by "agents of a foreign principal" – i.e. "any person outside of the United States" – to be accompanied by a disclaimer saying as much;
· third, "notwithstanding the status of the Article III judiciary as a separate and independent branch of government, the bill presumes to order the drawing up of a Supreme Court ethics code".
The latter issue deserves special attention given that in 2016 Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out that the Supreme Court is based "on independence from political influence" which means that Congress does not have the constitutional authority to impose an ethical "code of conduct" on the judicial branch.
However, Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Centre (CAC) think tank, hailed Biden's pledge to create a "bipartisan commission of… constitutional scholars" that would produce "recommendations as to how to reform the court system" in her 10 February op-ed for The Hill. Wydra noted that Biden's commission is expected to consider the issues of the Supreme Court's "legitimacy and expansion", which evokes strong memories of last year's "court-packing" rhetoric.
While the bill's provisions appear to be nothing short of a "grab‐every‐power‐in‐sight" effort, the measure's proponents argue that the Supreme Court remains "the least accountable institution within our three branches of government".
"House anti-corruption and Supreme Court ethics vote helps restore U.S. credibility; The bill would require a code of conduct for justices, who are the only U.S. judges not governed by such a code": Senior U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf (D. Mass.) has https://t.co/VnjBgf9oze— Howard Bashman (@howappealing) March 4, 2021
"The first thing to understand is that it is not the Democrats grabbing power", notes a former US official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It is the establishment, or the ruling oligarchy, the elites, the deep state or whatever we want to call it that is grabbing power through the Democrats. It is easier and cheaper for the establishment to control one party than two".
Why the Establishment Does Not Need the First Amendment
The much discussed H.R.1 is only part of a broader set of measures aimed at accumulating power in "one [set of] hands" and silencing dissent, according to Sputnik's interlocutor.
"From the ruling establishment's standpoint, the problem with the First Amendment is that free speech and free association can be used to challenge the establishment's explanations and agendas", he/she says.
At the same time, one must bear in mind that the attack on free speech and the First Amendment is limited to Trump supporters and people who dissent from establishment explanations; those who support the establishment enjoy free speech rights to the fullest extent, according to the former official.
Hence, selective shadow-banning, censoring, and removal of social media accounts by Big Tech as well as the mainstream media blackout of news casting a shadow on the establishment's political candidates and operatives.
The Democratic Party-proposed Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (DTPA) also appears to be aimed at silencing and intimidating political opposition.
"The domestic terrorism bill can be used to criminalise dissent, thus preventing alternative explanations", the ex-official notes. "Without free speech there can be no democracy and no way for the people to hold the government accountable to law. It is a reversion to pre-modern times prior to the English Glorious Revolution of 1688".
Massive Immigration as a Tool to Solidify Dems' Lead
Joe Biden's effort to reverse many of Donald Trump's migrant laws and the new administration's plan to provide a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal residents may play an important role in the purported "grand design" as well.
"The Democrats are consolidating their hold by amnesty to millions of illegal aliens and opening the borders to immigrant-invaders", says Sputnik's interlocutor.
In 2013, when Democrats were pushing immigration reform, political leaders and analysts suggested that if the nation's estimated 11.1 million predominantly Hispanic illegal migrants were granted the right to vote, it would be "an electoral bonanza for Democrats".
Indeed, a year earlier Pew Research found that 31% of Latino immigrants identified themselves as Democrats and only 4% as Republicans. At the same time, 33% described themselves as political independents, 16% mentioned some other political party, and 15% either said they "don't know" or refused to answer. When the fact tank surveyed Latino immigrants who are eligible to vote "many more identify as Democrats than as Republicans—54% versus 11%".
Predictably, the influx of immigrants is changing the fabric of society and partisan affiliation of cities and states. While explaining Biden's 2020 win in Georgia, Politico drew attention to the immigrant population in the state having leaped by 84% between 2010 and 2018, putting the Empire State of the South "on the fast track to becoming majority-minority by 2030".
"Black, Latino, and Asian voters in the once-Republican Atlanta suburbs helped deliver the state for Joe Biden in November. In the Peach State — and soon, strategists argue, the rest of the South — demography is becoming destiny", Politico predicted on 5 December 2020.
Given the assumption that newcomers tend to vote for Democrats, not much room is left for largely silenced and marginalised "Trump supporters" and other conservative groups.
"[Meanwhile], the media which is controlled by the establishment, is supporting the creation of a one-party state by associating Republicans with demonised Trump and 'white supremacist militias' who are 'MAGA terrorists' and 'enemies of Democracy'", Sputnik's interlocutor concludes.