Originally appeared in The Federalist
In recent weeks, the media has been chock full of stories about Democrats’ angst over their inability to push their signature election and campaign finance legislation over the finish line in the U.S. Senate. Democrats say failure to enact the legislation is “catastrophic” and “an existential threat,” insisting the need to pass the bill (H.R. 1/ S.1) is “urgent.” Why all the anxiety?
Democrats are desperate to codify their mischief from 2020. They fear they cannot and will not be reelected next year, potentially losing control of Congress, unless they rewrite the nation’s election laws before the reckoning in November 2022.
That is the urgency of this legislation to Democrats. They believe they must upend election rules to ensure they win. Otherwise, they face the threat of an electoral wipeout.
H.R. 1 and its companion, Senate Bill 1, would eliminate Democrats’ hated election integrity provisions. It would ban voter ID requirements, prohibit enforcement of state laws that outlaw ballot harvesting or require verification of identity when voting by mail, prohibit laws against felon voting, mandate automatic registration of everyone on government lists (further polluting already sadly non-maintained voter rolls and potentially registering non-citizens), remove state legislatures from redistricting responsibilities, turn the Federal Election Commission into a partisan agency, fund congressional campaigns with taxpayer dollars, and on and on. It is partisan Democrats’ dream bill – hence the numbers H.R. 1 and S. 1., indicating it’s their top legislative priority.
As we celebrate the Declaration of Independence on this Fourth of July, in regards to these bills and in general we should focus on one of the fundamental principles in that remarkable document: the consent of the governed — the principle Democrats fear most.
Consent Of the Governed Through Secure Elections
The Declaration of Independence memorializes the principle in its opening paragraph: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The founders believed, adds commentary from the Library of Congress, that “government depended on the consent of the governed and that any government not based on that consent could be justifiably overthrown and replaced.”
Ratified in 1788, the U.S. Constitution enshrined a permanent mechanism to make “consent of the governed” an ongoing, self-executing principle. This relieved the people’s need to foment rebellion to cast out those government leaders who failed to act in accordance with citizens’ consent. That mechanism is elections.
The Constitution established a system to elect members of the U.S. Congress and a separate system to elect the president of the United States. Article I, Section 4 vested in the states the responsibility for determining “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives.” Article II, Section 1 gave state legislatures the sole power to determine presidential electors.
Elections confer on the citizenry the power to express support for – or opposition to — the government’s exercise of its powers, by and through their elected officials. They allow voters to withdraw their consent should government conduct the people’s business in a manner inconsistent with the wishes and desires of the citizens.
Democrats’ Agendas Meet Popular Disapproval
Think about Obamacare in early 2010 and the election results later that year. Or the tidal wave elections of 1994 that followed the Clinton administration’s attempt to impose “Hillarycare.”
In both cases, Democrats’ arrogant overreach in Washington led to a massive defeat at the ballot box. During the Obama administration, Democrats lost more than 1,000 state and federal seats across the country, another manifestation of the governed withdrawing their consent from the political party and its philosophies and proposals — all through the ballot box.
In 2021, Democrats want to enact the most radical of their leftwing base’s socialist ideas, shrugging off the American people’s views about this agenda. Democrat elites, after all, view the American people writ large as unenlightened deplorables who need smart, Ivy League-educated leaders to tell them religion is superstition and government is a preferable god.
Those antiquated words in the Declaration of Independence about “consent of the governed” are, in these elites’ minds: antiquated. As Truly Smart People will tell you, America was founded by evil white slaveholders and nothing good has come from what the founders did.
This view manifests itself in policies and legislation that are out of touch and largely unpopular, including Democrat programs that:
- Sow racial divisions and discord by requiring the racist teachings of “critical race theory” from the workplace to the classroom, even though three-quarters of Americans oppose its “white privilege” training;
- Throw potentially thousands of Americans out of work in obeisance to radical climate activists’ push to destroy America’s energy independence;
- Codify an utter disregard of the reality of sex to placate a tiny percentage of the population, throwing such things as women’s sports into turmoil — even though a majority of Americans want to keep men out of women’s sports; And on, and on.
After being unceremoniously dumped from congressional control in 1994 and 2010 for cramming unpopular measures down the throats of the American people, Democrats don’t want the same thing to happen this time around. Thus H.R.1.
Subverting Electoral Accountability
Democrats know their power gains in 2020 were aided by changing election rules, and want to use these same loopholes to continue to hold power. They want to continue their radical leftist policies without fear of voter uprisings that would toss them from office.
Forget the bedrock American principle of governments “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” For Democrats, it is all about imposing their socialist vision on America, condemning our history, and putting our future in the hands of partisans in the federal government.
Democrats’ central legislative priority would federalize America’s elections (among other things) and ban common-sense election integrity measures such as voter identification requirements. Despite voters’ overwhelming support for voter ID, even among minorities, Democrats are intent on eliminating this most basic and fundamental requirement to be able to vote.
Now that S.1 has failed in the Senate, we face an even more atrocious proposal: a redux of H.R. 4, or what the Democrats cynically call the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Some iteration of the bill is expected to be introduced soon, with Democrats pushing for swift action.
In a nutshell, the bill would hand every election decision in the country to the partisan leftwing attorneys in the Department of Justice, removing all election decisions from the local and state administrators who currently oversee and implement election systems in America. It is a way to accomplish the objectives of H.R. 1 and S. 1, but it is even more insidious, as it would enable the vastly well-funded Democrat “voting rights” apparatus to control American elections. Think banana republic, where only the incumbents in power can be elected because the elections themselves are shams.
Much will be said and written in coming weeks about the new version of H.R.4 — a Democrat power grab if ever there was one — and its draconian upending of America’s election systems.
But this week, as we celebrate our founding, our founders, and our Declaration of Independence, remember “consent of the governed” is fundamental to America’s success as a nation. It is that principle Democrats are seeking to eradicate through the new H.R.4, to permanently perpetuate their power.
Patriots: man the barricades!
Cleta Mitchell is the senior legal fellow for election integrity at the Conservative Partnership Institute in Washington, DC.
Reprinted with Permission from - The Federalist by - Cleta Mitchell
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