Monday, January 24, 2022

Media Climate Change Propaganda “News” Rolls On

A recent Associated Press article posted by Martha Bellisle demonstrates how climate change propaganda can distort the facts to present a completely alternate “reality”.

Colorado’s late December 2021 wildfires that destroyed homes and neighborhoods have become the latest fodder for the Left’s quasi-religious climate agenda. In Climate change, new construction mean more ruinous fires, Bellisle “reports”

The winter grassland fire that blew up along Colorado’s Front Range was rare, experts say, but similar events will be more common in the coming years as climate change warms the planet — sucking the moisture out of plants — suburbs grow in fire-prone areas and people continue to spark destructive blazes.

I put “reports” in scare quotes because this article is really an opinion piece masquerading as news—or at the least a combination of news and opinion. First, note that the Colorado event was “rare”. Not unprecedented—none of the weather events suddenly blamed on climate change these days are unprecedented. This is true of the weather conditions that set up the fires. They were not unique. They’ve happened in the past, and will happen in the future. Yet climate change is blamed, implicitly and with no evidence whatsoever, for this fire event. This is a now-common refrain--to mindlessly label every weather event climate change. Note also that human activity—development in wildfire-prone areas and careless people—were the real reasons for the destructiveness of these fires. But the obligatory climate change has to be shoehorned in.

Next we see that “similar events will be more common in the coming years as climate change warms the planet.” “Will”, not may. That’s opinion, not fact. And how much more common? To date, despite decades of dire, hysterical predictions, extreme weather has not become more extreme to any significant extent, if at all. Yet . . . 

“These fires are different from most of the fires we’ve been seeing across the West, in the sense that they’re grass fires and they’re occurring in the winter,” said Jonathan Overpeck, a professor in the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. “Ultimately, things are going to continue to get worse unless we stop climate change.”

The assertion that these fires “are going to continue to get worse” is, as I stated, pure speculation. The assertion that “we [can] stop climate change” is pure fantasy. Climate change is a regular, ongoing feature of Earth’s atmosphere, whether humans are a contributing cause or not. If “stop climate change” means stop human influence on the climate, what Overpeck is really advocating is to stop human progress and flourishing, and make man vastly more vulnerable to climate dangers, as people were before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution—a genocidal “solution.” Where are the Associated Press fact checkers?

As Former Obama Administration science adviser Steven E. Koonan, IPCC independent Expert Reviewer and clean energy advocate Michael Shellenberger, and many other knowledgeable experts have shown, the observed facts simply do not support the view that wildfires, and weather extremes in general, are getting worse or more numerous globally. Or if they are, the change is marginal and in any event impossible to pin on a changing climate with any degree of certainty.

Note also that alternative solutions to the chimera of stopping climate change, such as what Reason science correspondent Ronald Bailey discusses in depth, gets no coverage, despite the fact that the policies being advanced by political climate hacks to stop climate change would cause an unimaginable human catastrophe, which will be documented in energy expert Alex Epstein’s next book, that would dwarf that which would occur from any increase in extreme weather.

Bellisle and the Associated Press should be ashamed of themselves for advancing such sloppy journalism, blatant misinformation, and fake news.

Related Reading:

QUORA: ‘Why is there such strong pushback on climate change at the same time as we are seeing overwhelming proof of weather extremes in the USA?’

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels— by Alex Epstein 

The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the 21st Century—by Ronald Bailey 

Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us -- by Michael Shellenberger

Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters – by Steven E. Koonin 

The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters & Climate Change—by Roger Pielke Jr. 

Fossil Future: Why Global Human Flourishing Requires More Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas--Not Less—by Alex Epstein 

False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet—by Bjorn Lomborg

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Joe Biden—the Real Protégé of Jefferson Davis

In a leadup to Martin Luther King Jr. day, 2022, President Joe Biden gave a rousing speech in Georgia pushing his party’s so-called Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, which combines the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. But this was no mere campaign-style speech. Biden dove right into the thick of political philosophy, reaching straight back to the Founding of America. In doing so, Biden clearly and explicitly exposed the reactionary premises of the Democratic Party.

Before we delve into that let me briefly say a bit about this bill. First, despite the title, this bill is not about voting rights. Nowhere in the United States are voting rights an issue. No one is advocating for violating anyone’s right to vote. Democrats’ hysterical fear mongering demagoguery notwithstanding, the whole hoopla is really only about voting procedures and rules, and who -- Congress or state legislatures -- has responsibility over them. That's a vitally important Constitutional separation of powers issue. But while most states are revising, or have revised, their voting laws following last year’s emergency Covid-19 revisions to facilitate the 2020 presidential elections, the right to vote is not anywhere threatened. Specific features of these revised voting laws can be debatable. But an assault on voting rights? No one has ever pointed to one. See my recent post Jesse Jackson’s Big Lie: ‘American Democracy is Under Siege’.

Second, the real danger in this bill are the poison pills designed to undermine rights to freedom of speech, assembly, conscience, and privacy. One provision would establish taxpayer funding of federal elections—which means that the people who seek our votes, which if they win gives them the authority to pass laws that we are forced to live under, will be able to pick our pockets at gunpoint (tax us) to pay for their campaigns. Another provision would ban so-called “dark money,” which is private money donated to political action committees engaged in issue or candidate advocacy. The political and moral horrors of these provisions is covered in my post HR-1 is An Assault on Free Speech, Property Rights, Freedom of Conscience, and Privacy (HR-1 is the precursor to the current bill). 

That said, Biden’s Georgia speech is  much more consequential than any one act of congress because it is deeply philosophical in a way that goes straight to the heart of what America is. Here are some excerpts from Remarks by President Biden on Protecting the Right to Vote, with my annotates:

In our lives and the lives of our nation — the life of our nation, there are moments so stark that they divide all that came before from everything that followed.  They stop time.  They rip away the trivial from the essential.  And they force us to confront hard truths about ourselves, about our institutions, and about our democracy.

This is true. And Biden and the Democratic Party are making this one of those stark moments -- but not in the way Biden means.

Today, we come to Atlanta — the cradle of civil rights — to make clear what must come after that dreadful day when a dagger was literally held at the throat of American democracy.

As we shall see, Biden’s “American democracy” is nothing like anything America stands for. After reciting horrible events in which “time stopped”—bombings of black churches, murders of children, Ku Klux Klan attacks—Biden states:

They stopped — time stopped, and they forced the country to confront the hard truths and to act — to act to keep the promise of America alive: the promise that holds that we’re all created equal but, more importantly, deserve to be treated equally.  And from those moments of darkness and despair came light and hope.

Yes, indeed. The promise of America is anchored in the recognition of original equality and the right to be treated equally -- by the government and its laws. Does Biden really understand what that means?

Democrats, Republicans, and independents worked to pass the historic Civil Rights Act and the voting rights legislation.  And each successive generation continued that ongoing work.

Again, true. The “historic Civil Rights Act and the voting rights legislation” followed Martin Luther King’s reminder of “the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence,” and his hope “that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,’” and finally grant negroes “the riches of freedom and the security of justice,” a “dream” of King’s that is “deeply rooted in the American dream.” Keep this in mind, as we move deeper into Biden’s speech.

But then the violent mob of January 6th, 2021, empowered and encouraged by a defeated former president, sought to win through violence what he had lost at the ballot box, to impose the will of the mob, to overturn a free and fair election, and, for the first time — the first time in American history, they — to stop the peaceful transfer of power.

That certainly was a mob attempting to impose its will. As we will see, Biden, the worshiper of Democracy, is the last person to complain about mob rule.

Biden goes on to trash the new Georgia voting law designed, he asserts, to “suppress the right to vote.” This is a law that makes it much easier to vote than 10 years ago, because it includes early voting, remote drop boxes, and “no-excuse” mail-in balloting--meaning mail-in ballots can be requested without any reason. Biden spouts the voter suppression lie despite myriad experts who have observed that, at worst, the new law will not have any effect on turnout and that the provisions of Georgia’s new law generally compare favorably with many other states. Thus, as Jonah Goldberg points out, “Biden will be the second president in a row to tell voters in Georgia there’s no point in voting because the system is rigged,” without justification. The first, of course, was Donald Trump, in the leadup to the Georgia Senate runoff elections a year ago, handing control of the Senate to the Democrats.

After further demagoging, Biden pivots to a call to selectively end the filibuster so as to allow a simple Senate majority to pass the voting bill:

Today I’m making it clear: To protect our democracy, I support changing the Senate rules, whichever way they need to be changed — (applause) — to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights.  (Applause.)  

When it comes to protecting majority rule in America, the majority should rule in the United States Senate.  [My emphasis]

And so Biden’s reactionary philosophic treason begins to come into focus. America has never been about “protecting majority rule.” America has always been about protecting individual self-rule—inalienable individual rights—from tyrannies of every kind, including electoral majorities.

Then comes the clincher—Biden’s philosophic treason in full bloom:

I make this announcement with careful deliberation, recognizing the fundamental right to vote is the right from which all other rights flow.

This is nothing short of a repudiation of America and its Enlightenment roots. The Declaration of Independence states clearly, in these “magnificent words” as per Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they 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 . . . [my emphasis]

This is not mere rhetorical flourish. The idea of unalienable Rights and the government’s sole purpose to “to secure these rights” is deeply rooted in Enlightenment philosophy, led by John Locke and, ultimately, clarified and solidified by 20th Century philosopher Ayn Rand. The principle of individual rights is derived from man’s individual nature as a rational being, and precedes government. The truth is the exact opposite of Biden’s reactionary formulation: Man’s  fundamental rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are the rights from which all other rights flow—including the right to vote.

After railing against Trump and his supporters for attempting to commandeer “the kind of power you see in totalitarian states, not in democracies,” Biden announces that rights are privileges granted by government, a foundational power of totalitarian states. This is not a power of constitutional republics such as, in its Founding ideals—the very same ideals drawn on by King in support of his Civil rights Movement—the United States of America!

So what does it mean, in practice, when “the fundamental right to vote is the right from which all other rights flow?” It means majority rule. Mob rule. When rights flow from the right to vote, then all rights flow from government—and the flow goes both ways.

  • It means the “rights” of majorities to vote minorities into slavery, which was a plank of the antebellum Democratic Party. 
  • It means the “rights” of majorities, or the majority’s elected representatives, to force unwilling citizens to fund political campaigns. 
  • It means the power to vote in governments to grant “rights” to material benefits, such as healthcare or education, that take away the rights of the citizens who are forced to provide and/or fund them—selectively, as in the regulatory welfare state, or across the board, as in a fully socialist country
  • It means the “right” of voters to install sharia law, violating the right to freedom of religion.
  • It means that Jim Crow laws were legitimate, democratically legitimate. Those laws were established by elected representatives--and, for a time upheld by the courts.

That’s exactly the evil that the Founders abolished. When the British government began systematically to take away the colonists’ “rights of Englishmen,” the Founders realized that there must be a firmer foundation for rights than the benevolence (or lack of) of a King or other ruling authority, including the rule of elected legislatures. They found that firm foundation for the preservation of their rights in the theory of natural rights, a product of The Enlightenment; the theory that man by his very nature, and his relationship to broader nature, requires the freedom to take the actions necessary for the furtherance of his life, secured by, in the words of John Locke, inalienable individual rights.  

The Democratic Party, along with the Confederate intellectuals, rejected those principles by radically reinterpreting the Founding of America as a Democracy, not a constitutional republic. The Democrats haven’t changed their stripes. They claimed rights were grants of state authority, derived from the vote, rather than from the laws of nature, and their elected governments deprived blacks their rights—The fundamental right to vote is the right from which all other rights flow--or not flow, as elected representatives deemed to declare. Today, on Democratic Party reactionary premises, an entire country can be voted into socialist slavery. The Democratic Party has Democratic Socialists embedded within. Venezuela elected and re-elected socialists leaders Chavez and Madura, and rights were systematically stripped away--voted away--turning Venezuela into an unfree, impoverished basket case. 

That’s what you get when you declare that rights come from the state--that the fundamental right to vote is the right from which all other rights flow. As we can clearly see in theory and in practice, a government from which rights flow is also a government from which rights can recede. Biden has it backwards. In fact, in a Democracy as conceived by Biden, the right to vote is the “right” that puts all other rights at risk.

Then came the final outrage of Biden’s philosophic treason. Biden framed the debate over his Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act in apocalyptic demagoguery—as a choice of democracy over autocracy, light over shadows, justice over injustice; as a choice for or against voter suppression, election subversion, and democracy. With a straight face, Biden dropped the hammer on opponents:

So, I ask every elected official in America: How do you want to be remembered? 

At consequential moments in history, they present a choice: Do you want to be the si- — on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?  Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor?  Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?

It was the Confederate intelligentsia that repudiated the ideal of inalienable individual rights, summarized as “natural rights theory,” and reconceived America as a Democracy under which all rights flow from government—to protect their slavocracy. Who, then, is siding with the president of the slaveholding Confederacy, Jefferson Davis? Biden’s belief that “the fundamental right to vote is the right from which all other rights flow,” a principle upon which his Justice Department is basing its lawsuit against the state of Georgia over that state’s new election law, dovetails seamlessly with the philosophy of the Confederate States of America and its Democratic Party allies. 

To Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, election to political office in America is not an honorable job that entails doing the legal work of securing the fundamental rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness of its citizens. To today’s democratic socialist Democrats, like the antebellum Democrats and the Jim Crow Democrats and the welfare state Democrats, getting elected to political office is a license for totalitarian power—to do the work of deciding what rights are, who gets them, who doesn’t, and to enforce those “rights” through legal coercion. While pretending to be on the side of mid-twentieth century civil rights crusaders, Biden is actually on the opposite side philosophically. Whereas Martin Luther King Jr., for all of his mixed and inconsistent politics, was squarely on the side of the Founding principles. Joe Biden has chosen the opposite side. And since philosophy is the primary engine of history, Joe Biden is the one who, in reality, has chosen Jefferson Davis over Abraham Lincoln.

[This post was updated on 1/23/22.]

Related Reading:

Voting Rights are Not the ‘Most Fundamental Right’—or Even a Fundamental Right. 

The Dangerous Totalitarian Premise Underpinning the Justice Department’s Suit Against Georgia’s New Election Law

America's Revolutionary Mind: A Moral History of the American Revolution and the Declaration That Defined It by C. Bradley Thompson

America; Democracy or Republic or Both--Why it Matters

Senator Mike Lee is Right: America ‘is not a Democracy’

Rights and Democracy

Constitutional Republicanism: A Counter-Argument to Barbara Rank’s Ode to Democracy

Mesmerized by Elections, the NJ Star-Ledger Forgot that Tyranny is Tyranny

The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty—Timothy Sandefur

Equality and the American Dream by C. Bradley Thompson

Martin Luther King Jr. and the Fundamental Principle of America by Michael A. Laferrara, my article for The Objective Standard

Related Viewing:

What Are Rights and Where Do They Come From? by Harry Binswanger

Monday, January 17, 2022

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. For His Moral Ideals Rather Than His Politi

In commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Peniel E. Joseph, the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University, said in a 2014 article:

King emerges as a talented individual whose rhetorical genius at the March on Washington helped elevate an entire nation through his moral power and sheer force of will.
The March on Washington was when King delivered his famous 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech. Joseph goes on:

Yet missing from many of the annual King celebrations is the portrait of a political revolutionary who, over time, evolved into a radical warrior for peace, justice and the eradication of poverty. During his last three years, King the “Dreamer” turned into one of the most eloquent, powerful and scathing critics of American society. King lent his moral force and power to anti-poverty crusades that questioned the economic system of capitalism and called for an end to the Vietnam War. . . . King’s powerful rage against economic exploitation and war is often overlooked when we think of him as only a race-healer.
The "moral power" of King's famous "Dream" speech in Washington was actually the moral power of the Founding Fathers resurrected. In that speech, King reminded Americans of the ideals laid down in the Declaration of Independence—the philosophic blueprint for the constitution and the new nation—and called on Americans to fully live up to those ideals. “In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check,” King said.

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
Yet, King's Dream was to be corrupted by an inner contradiction. In his later years, King questioned the legitimacy of capitalism and turned to what he termed "democratic socialism," a hybrid of two evil systems (democracy and socialism) that repudiates the very ideals he espoused in his speech. In a supreme irony, King unwittingly aligned with the political ideology of America's first encounter with Democratic Socialism, the Confederate Slavocracy.* Therein lies one of the great American paradoxes—the clash between King the moral force and King the political revolutionary.

When the Founders drafted the Declaration of Independence, they laid down the radical principles that would give birth to capitalism. These 55 brilliant words—the opening lines of the second paragraph of the Declaration—sum up the essence of capitalism:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they 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. . .
When King reaffirmed those ideals—that all men are created equal, possessing inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness protected equally and at all times under a government of objective law rather than of men—he was really, though apparently unwittingly, affirming the foundational principles of capitalism.

Capitalism is the system based on individual rights, rights-protecting government and the only kind of equality consistent with justice—equality of individual rights before the law. Because of these principles, Capitalism is the only social system that banishes exploitation and war, because individual rights banishes aggressive or initiatory force from human relationships—particularly aggressive force by government against the people. Under capitalism, exploitation is replaced with voluntary trade to mutual benefit among individuals, a win-win in which individuals trade value-for-value and get better together. Capitalism liberates every individual to think and act on his own judgement and work to lift himself from poverty, and protects those who take up that life-affirming challenge from would-be exploiters who don’t. And under capitalism, war is replaced with peaceful coexistence among nations based on that principle of trade.

So why would King uphold the moral principles of capitalism in his most famous speech while repudiating it in his politics? It's obvious that King didn't understand capitalism or fully grasp the moral implications of the Declaration of Independence that he so eloquently honored.

He undoubtedly viewed the America of the 1960s as capitalist, when in fact what America had was a mixed economy; a mixture of economic freedom and government controls—that is to say, an economy corrupted by heavy political interference, which included the virulently anti-capitalist Jim Crow segrgation laws. America in the 1960s was just emerging from a time when large segments of blacks were legally oppressed and hence unable to enjoy “the riches of freedom and the security of justice” that is capitalism. Blacks, King failed to understand, were not victims of capitalism but of statism.

King’s legacy includes an end to state-sponsored segregation and oppression—a monumental achievement. But his democratic socialist political policies also “succeeded,” strengthening and entrenching the mixed economy in America, which he mistakenly perceived as capitalism—the result being, in turn, to reduce economic opportunities for many poor but ambitious people, including African-Americans.

To his credit, King explicitly opposed full-blown socialism, which he believed leads to communism, a system that he correctly understood "forgets that life is individual." But he wrongly believed that "Capitalism forgets that life is social," leading him to his hybrid democratic socialism. He failed to see that capitalism, by leaving individuals free to pursue their own values in the absence of physical coercion, provides the only proper moral foundation for both individual flourishing and robust benevolent social interaction. That moral foundation, rational egoism, is implicit in the Declaration of Independence, which defends the inalienable rights of every individual to pursue his own happiness.

Thus is the paradox of Martin Luther King.

Commentators like Joseph urge us to elevate his politics to at least the level of his ideals. That, of course, would be an impossible contradiction. But ideas are where the real power lies. Since ideas are the driving force of human events, Martin Luther King, despite his politics, remains one of my heroes. Standing in a line that includes John Locke, the Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, and Ayn Rand, among others, King reaffirmed America's Founding ideals at a crucial point in American history. That, to me, is his real legacy contribution to America. For that, I am grateful to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


* [See Randy E. Barnett, Our Republican Constitution, Chapter 4 “How Slavery Led to a More Republican Constitution.” See George Fitzhugh, "Centralization and Socialism." See especially C. Bradley Thompson, America's Revolutionary Mind, Epilogue, Page 359-386: Thompson documents the "common intellectual heritage" of 19th Century pro-slavery intellectuals and 20th-21st Century Progressives.]

Related Reading:

Martin Luther King: An 'Authentic American Hero'—or Not?

Martin Luther King Jr. and the Fundamental Principle of America

“I Have a Dream”: Martin Luther King Urges Consistency to Founding Principles

On This Constitution Day, Remember the Declaration of Independence

The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty—Timothy Sandefur

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal—Ayn Rand

Martin Luther King: Right On Racial Justice, Wrong On ‘Economic Justice’

Related Viewing:


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Jesse Jackson’s Big Lie: ‘American Democracy is Under Siege’

In his Seattle Times column, Jesse Jackson levels an astounding claim—American democracy is under siege. This article is in the context of advocating for passage of the Democrats’ misnamed John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. I say “misnamed” the bill is not actually about voting rights, which are not in question. Regardless of the pros and cons of the details within the bill, no one is proposing to restrict or rescind anyone’s right to vote, as far as I can determine. So the inclusion of “voting rights” in the title is a red herring, and could more accurately be called an election reform bill.

Be that as it may, is Jackson peddling hyperbole? Or is there something to his breathtaking assertion?

Let me take a look. Here is my annotated review of Jackson’s article. After asserting that “Over the last 10 years, democracy has been in decline across the world,” Jackson writes:

This is an understatement: American democracy is under siege. Today we witness a concerted, systematic and unrelenting effort to undermine our democracy. The sacking of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and former President Donald Trump’s continuing effort to discredit the results of the 2020 presidential election that he lost are just one part of the offensive. The attack on democracy is supported by Republican politicians, donors and party organs both at state and national levels. It is reinforced by the partisan Republican appointed right-wing majority on the Supreme Court.

There is no question that Trump went fanatical on his fraudulent claim of “a stolen election.” And while it can’t be said that he incited the Capitol riot—I read his January 6 rally speech immediately preceding the attack, and it doesn’t rise to the level of direct incitement, so it’s protected First Amendment speech—he certainly didn’t do enough to stop it soon enough, despite constant pleas from his allies. But is this overhyped “attack on democracy” really widely supported in Republican circles? I don’t see it, although too many Republican politicians may hedge their comments so as not to alienate the too-high numbers of remaining Trump supporters (now called the MAGA movement). These Republicans are doing what politicians do, pander the “the base”—a nutty base which, unfortunately, occupies to large a swath within the GOP. The Democrats were just as panderous to their base in justifying and/or soft-pedaling the looters ravaging American cities during the so-called “racial justice protests” of 2020.

But the last sentence tells you where Jackson is really going. The “partisan Republican appointed right-wing majority on the Supreme Court” is justices nominated by duly elected American presidents and confirmed by a duly elected United States Senate. Where’s the “attack on Democracy”? Sounds like Jackson’s “attack on Democracy” is more like a camouflage for bitterness over election setbacks for his far Left reactionary political agenda. Jackson continues:

The campaign begins with the Big Lie that the election in 2020 was stolen — a lie that is repeated even though refuted by independent audits, by Republican judges, by Trump’s own attorney general and by Republican election officials. Despite this, a majority of Republican voters now believe that the 2020 election was stolen. 

True enough, sadly. But note Jackson’s observed fact that Trump’s Big Lie is “refuted'' by  Republican judges, by Trump’s own attorney general and by Republican election officials, not to mention that all states with Republican political control certified the election results in December. This directly contradicts his prior claim that Trump’s “attack on democracy is supported by Republican politicians, donors and party organs both at state and national levels.” Jackson goes on . . .

That lie then is used by Republican legislators to push legislative measures designed to make it harder to vote. They seek to limit mail-in ballots, reduce the days for early voting, cut the hours that polls are open, eliminate the number of places to vote, impose burdensome ID requirements and purge voting lists. By February, 253 bills were introduced in 43 states. And now Republican state legislatures in states from Arizona to Pennsylvania are seeking not simply to replace independent election officials with partisans but to empower legislatures to overturn elections if they don’t like the results.

So, should there be no limits on mail-in balloting, early voting days, hours that polls are open, number of polling places, and the length of time inactive voters should remain on state voting rolls? And are voter ID requirements really that “burdensome”? For whom? Anyone who has ever had to whip out their drivers license knows otherwise. 

Through most of my voting life, which began in 1968, polls were open one day—Election Day—for a limited number of hours. Other than rare absentee ballots, usually reserved for service members, there was no mail-in balloting or early voting. Many of these features, including remote drop-off boxes, were instituted “on the fly” in 2020 as emergency pandemic measures. Most of these measures are now being made permanent through updated state election laws. In my lifetime, it’s never been easier to vote than now. Yet Jackson wants us to believe that Republicans are attacking the right to vote. A wide variety of experts have rejected the idea that the sweep of election law reforms would suppress voter turnout. Sarah Isgur and Chris Stirewalt explain:

Do Voting Laws Matter? Maybe Not: New academic research suggests that all this talk about laws that will result in voter suppression or increase turnout may be, well, academic. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Niesse writes that “Academic research shows that voter ID laws have little to no effect on turnout” and that “one nationwide study found that expansions of absentee voting in some states in last year’s election didn’t alter turnout.” Taken together, these studies show that “almost all voters who want to vote will find a way to cast their ballots despite tougher ID requirements, limits on ballot drop boxes and a shorter early voting period before runoffs.” And, of course, if there’s no effect on turnout that also means there’s no discernible amount of fraud being prevented either.

Ilya Shapiro reported for the Washington Examiner concerning the much-trashed Georgia law:

The Washington Post gave Biden “ four Pinocchios” for his claim that [Georgia’s] SB 202 was “ Jim Crow in the 21st century” for limiting voting hours and to otherwise “deny the right to vote to countless voters.” That paper, not exactly a right‐​wing house organ, reported that “experts say the net effect was to expand the opportunities to vote for most Georgians, not limit them,” MIT elections expert Charles Stewart III found.

Likewise, the New York Times noted that the Georgia law “will have little effect on overall turnout or on election outcomes.” It notes that “More broadly, . . . modest changes to voting convenience — like those in the Georgia law — have had little to no effect when other states have adopted them.”

You get the picture. This is just a sampling. The fact is, in no place in America is any state making it hard for any reasonably motivated person to cast his vote. They’re making it easier. “Voter suppression” is a conspiratorial lie: It’s just political hype.

The last claim, that “Arizona to Pennsylvania are seeking . . . to empower legislatures to overturn elections if they don’t like the results,” doesn’t hold up. Of course, it would be bad, very bad, if politicians could “overturn elections if they don’t like the results.” But that is just hysterical nonsense. There are constitutional checks and balances and legal barriers to such events. As Constitutional expert Walter Olson observes, No, State Legislatures Aren’t Going To Override The Popular Vote on Presidential Elector. While both the Constitution and federal law recognize state legislatures’ power to choose electors, states cannot simply overturn elections willy-nilly. They can step in only under extremely remote circumstances, such as an election that “failed” due to a natural disaster or terrorist attack. States could not alter “an election held as usual”: “Congress, armed with constitutional power to set uniform election rules,” Olson notes, would simply not allow it. So Jackson’s scare mongering about political partisans overturning election results is just that, scare mongering.

Jackson also complains that “in states where Republicans are in control, partisan redistricting committees are gerrymandering districts to ensure that Republicans can capture the majority of the state legislature and the congressional delegation.” This is a red herring. Partisan redistricting is rampant everywhere, including in Democrat-controlled states. New Jersey Democrats just completed their own version of partisan redistricting.* Redistricting is problematic in America, to be sure. And there is much debate over how to make the constitutionally mandated procedure less partisan. But partisan gerrymandering is bipartisan. Jackson is just being disingenuous, nothing more. And remember that “states where Republicans are in control” are states where voters put Republicans in control. Redistricting is the responsibility of the state legislatures, and state legislatures are filled with elected representatives. It seems that Jackson is for Democracy, except when Democracy doesn’t go his way.

Jackson voter suppression claims are just an appetizer for the main course. He expands his diatribe to an attack on free speech, a much more fundamental right than voting. “The effort” to suppress voting, he claims,:

is aided and abetted by the tong of right-wing Supreme Court justices. In a series of decisions, they have opened the floodgates to both corporate contributions and dark money — secret — contributions. 

He’s referring, of course, to Citizens United and McCutcheon. In those decisions, the high court didn’t “open” any floodgates. It overturned prior laws that unconstitutionally restricted political contributions, and thus free speech, which belongs to all individuals whether acting alone or in groups, publicly or anonymously. Associations of individuals, be they corporations, unions, or political action committees, are free by right to spend money on political advocacy—a right derived from the inalienable rights of the individuals who make up those groups. And these associations have a right to keep their donor lists secret, based on the privacy rights of the individual donors. Statists want to force these identities into public exposure against their will, exposing them to intimidation, and in today’s rampant “cancel culture,” to firings, a backdoor attempt to silence private citizen speech. Anonymous political spending, referred to as “dark money” by the political class to imply something sinister, is and long has been a key way to keep politicians accountable to the people. Anonymous speech has a long history of use by those fearful of intimidation and violence or governmental reprisals. And courts have long defended anonymous speech rights, including SCOTUS’s 1958 NAACP v. Alabama. More fundamentally, anonymous speech is also an inalienable right of privacy. Associations of individuals, however that association is structured, have the same rights. The Left hates both, for obvious reasons: Politicians don’t like accountability. But a free country protects all forms of free speech. Indeed, a free country cannot survive if it doesn’t protect all forms of free speech.

Jackson’s attack on liberal democracy runs deeper than elections in another way. His antipathy to Americanism becomes clearer with this:

Will today’s reaction succeed? Democracy already faces institutional obstacles. The Senate — with every state given two senators — is structurally biased against states with urban areas and large populations. Republicans can capture a majority of the Senate with a minority of the national vote. The electoral college imposes that bias on the presidential election — as we saw when Trump was elected despite winning fewer votes than Hillary Clinton in 2016. In the Senate, the filibuster — requiring 60 votes to pass legislation — has been turned from an instrument rarely used (mostly by Southerners blocking civil rights legislation) to a routine tool to obstruct any progress.

Yes, the Senate is structured precisely to be “biased” against states with large populations. The structure of the Senate and the Electoral College are both critical planks in the Founders’ tyranny-thwarting separation of powers platform. But Jackson is an authoritarian democracy fundamentalist. Jackson, the alleged champion of “minority rights,” suddenly champions majoritarian dominance over the minorities by getting rid of the equal state apportionment of the Senate, the Electoral College, the Senate filibuster, and “Dark Money.” That is in keeping with Democratic Party history. The Democratic Party at its inception endorsed the idea that each state should decide whether or not to legalize slavery, by popular vote. Yes, majorities should be able to vote a minority into slavery, according to the original Democrats. That’s Democracy, properly understood. That’s why Jackson’s party is called the Democratic Party. True, no Democrats would endorse that particular view now. But Jackson and his ilk have not changed their fundamental stripes, believing that our individual rights should be at the mercy of the majority, rather than be inalienable and thus protected from majority rule. They still believe in unfettered majoritarianism, so any structure, like the Senate or Electoral College, that restrains electoral majorities, and by extension legislative majorities, is anathema.

Jackson’s hyperbole accelerates as his piece rolls on, even to the point of channeling the Supreme Court’s 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision to explicitly charge that the GOP wants to return America to the dark days of separate-but-equal segregation—a shocking smear given the Left’s current neo-racist Woke “antiracism” terror crusade. 

I could say more. But the picture by now is clear. 

Jackson asserts that “American democracy itself is at risk.” But the democracy that Jackson wants to “save”—the absolute democracy of majoritarian rule over individual self-rule (inalienable individual rights)—has never been part of America’s philosophical foundation, reactionaries like Jackson and his Democratic Party notwithstanding. The foundation of America is individual rights to life, liberty, and property, not periodic votes. That’s what checks and balances, such as the “undemocratic” Senate and electoral college, are designed to secure. 

There may be features of these election reform bills that are debatable. But Jackson cites none and offers no rational counter-arguments, just hysterical hyperbole. In Jesse Jackson, what we’re seeing is not someone defending the right to vote—which is not at risk—but a reactionary partisan hack who doesn’t like the democratic choices voters make when electing Republicans. Jackson sets up a straw man, that voting rights are in peril, to advance his real agenda—to sabotage American government structures in quest of unrestrained power. Under the guise of defending voting rights, Jackson smuggles in, not so subtly, an attack on liberty rights and the limited government that secures it. In the name of “American democracy,” Jackson seeks to dismantle Americanism.

* [Republicans have sued to overturn the redistricting plan, claiming it is rigged to “all but ensure Democratic domination of the congressional delegation for the next decade.”]

Related Reading:

Voting Rights are Not the ‘Most Fundamental Right’—or Even a Fundamental Right

Citizens United and the Battle for Free Speech in America by Steve Simpson

‘Dark Money’ is Free Speech. Protect It

QUORA: ‘Why does the Electoral College of the United States of America exist?’

QUORA *: ‘What do you think of the fact that California has 2 senators to represent 40 million citizens while 23 smaller states have 46 senators to represent 40 million citizens?’

Save the Filibuster

Why Free Speech and Spending on Speech are Inextricably Linked

Senator Mike Lee is Right: America ‘is not a Democracy’

The Strategic yet Self-Defeating Hyperbole of 'Democracy in Peril' Journalism by Matt Welch for Reason