A new bill recently introduced to Congress and passed by the House of Representatives seeks to make it nearly impossible for any third party or independent candidates to meet the requirements necessary to participate in national elections.
But you wouldn’t know that if you read it’s title or were subjected to the gerrymandering praise of the corporate media. House Resolution 1, the unironically titled, For The People Act, is being promoted as the next milestone for voting rights. In reality, this is not entirely the case. A few barely noticeable caveats show it’s true purpose is a power grab for the two party establishment. While HR 1 does have some detractors in the GOP, it isn’t being met with much opposition outside of paradigm grandstanding. Ultimately it benefits them both.
Green Party US pointed out on Twitter — “Democrats are selling HR 1 as a “voting rights” bill, but they aren’t telling you about a little-known poison pill designed to further restrict voter choice by suppressing independent candidates & parties”.
Democrats are selling HR 1 as a "voting rights" bill, but they aren't telling you about a little-known poison pill designed to further restrict voter choice by suppressing independent candidates & parties
Tell Congress: don't let HR1 attack voter choice! https://t.co/HOGkAluhmV
— Green Party US 🌻 (@GreenPartyUS) March 3, 2021
As further elaborated on the GP website, the “poison pills” in the bill would most harshly affect campaign finance laws, changing the stipulations for campaign fundraising. Multiplying the minimum prerequisite to acquire matching federal funds by 5 times for independent and third-party candidates. This move is particularly nefarious when considering the restrictions already in place that stifle campaign fundraising attempts for any candidate not within the establishment are hardly fair already.
They go on to state:
“Most alarmingly, HR1 quintuples the amount of money Green presidential campaigns will be required to raise to qualify for federal matching funds: from $5,000 in each of 20 states to $25,000 per state.” …. “HR 1, a package that is sold as a “voting rights” bill but would actually undermine everyone’s right to organize electorally against the parties of War and Wall Street.”
“In addition to quintupling the money presidential candidates must raise to access presidential primary public matching funds, other poison pills in HR1 would:
• Abolish the general election campaign block grants that parties can access by winning at least 5% of the vote in the previous presidential election. HR1 would eliminate this provision that was created to give a fair shot to alternative parties that demonstrate significant public support
• Replace the general election block grants (where each qualified candidate receives a set, lump sum of public funding for campaign expenses) with matching funds through Election Day — a huge step backwards for public campaign finance reform — using the above-mentioned criteria designed to squeeze out alternative parties and independent candidates
• Eliminate the limits on donations and expenditures candidates can receive and make — what kind of campaign finance reform is that?
• Inflate the amount of money national party committees can give to candidates from $5000 to $100 million, an astonishing increase of 1999900% that would give party bosses virtually unlimited power to flood elections with big money”
The final point sticks out as being the most repugnant. Not only would the hidden stipulations eviscerate the ability for non-establishment candidates to finance their campaigns but it would also exponentially expand the scope of monetary power already held by the two major parties to an almost limitless capacity.
HR1 operates almost as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. While the bill itself does provide helpful reforms to the voting process seemingly meant to strengthen the power of the people and reduce voter suppression, such as working to reveal dark money in politics. These aforementioned caveats bottleneck the choices American voters have to only favor one corporatist imperialist candidate over another. Only serving to further empower the false left-right paradigm and the illusion of choice in the American (s)electoral process — offering no real room for any real change.
Knowing which corrupt corporations are bankrolling which corrupt politicians is essentially useless if alternative candidates are stifled in the process.
Simultaneously, while Democrats bear their weight down on one side of the aisle with virtually no true resistance from the GOP, Republicans are working to sharpen their own side of this double edged sword. While they feign resistance against HR 1 to maintain optics for their constituents; the Brennan Institute for Justice has noted that so far in 2021 Republican lawmakers have introduced 165 bills to restrict people’s voting access on the state level.
Political theater aside, when looked at from outside of a partisan perspective both of these efforts combine to equate to a two-pronged attack against liberty. While there are still some overlapping conflicts among these actions, overall the people still end up holding the short straw.
Both parties maintain the illusion of working for the people and against each other while the only real beneficiary is the system — Republicans restrict voting access on one side, Democrats strengthen the establishment candidates on the other — while they both pretend to do the opposite of what they’re doing.
Furthermore, HR1 is an blatant affront to constitutionality. In a recent opinion piece by The Hill titled ‘HR1 Is For The Politicians, Not The People’, US Representative Rodney Davis (R-Ill) acknowledges:
“Another reason this bill is for the politicians and not the people is it violates Article 1, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution by impeding states’ constitutionally mandated right to decide how their elections should be administered. States know their residents’ election needs much better than a federal bureaucracy does. Instead of trying to deal with voting issues on a case-by-case basis and working with localities and states, H.R. 1 is a federal takeover of our election process. It’s a takeover without any safeguards against irregularities within our voting system.
“Violating your First Amendment rights isn’t “for the people.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organization typically in support of the policies advanced by the Democratic Party, opposes this bill because of the many provisions in H.R. 1 that would “unconstitutionally impinge on the free speech rights of American citizens and public interest organizations. They will have the effect of harming our public discourse by silencing necessary voices that would otherwise speak out about the public issues of the day.”
Speaking to Politifact, a spokeswoman for the ACLU elaborated their multiple concerns with the bill, as well as the provisions the organization supports.
While there are a number of provisions in HR 1 that deserve considerations of support, as the 700+ page piece of legislation sits in its present form it serves largely as a virtue signaling power grab. And, it comes during a time when Americans desperately deserve alternatives from the norm.
Currently in the United States, public faith and participation in the electoral process is at an all-time low. Americans are sick of the two corporate parties that do more to carry the status quo for the predator class than to oppose it.
For years, more Americans have refused to vote than have actually voted specifically because of this dissatisfaction. In recent voting cycles the demand for alternative political parties has continued to gain support; Libertarians and Greens are continuing to rise in popularity among young Americans, as is the sentiment for new political parties such as the Constitution party or the People’s Party.
While here at TFTP we are unapologetic advocates of Liberty, and thusly oppose statism in general — it can be recognized that truly democratizing and diversifying the electoral process is a step in the right direction, at least ideologically, for the people to begin to retake some control over their lives.
And yet, the typical fashion of the ruling class legislative language is half irony and half Orwellian doublespeak. Many times the names of these bills are the antithesis of what they actually do; the infamous USA Freedom Act subsequently stole more of our Liberty under domestic security laws; and recent “Coronavirus Relief” packages has primarily allocated billions of dollars to corporate monopolies and political special interests, while leaving suffering American people high and dry — all during a crisis predominantly facilitated by the State. The “For The People Act” is no different, and should be more aptly named the “Last Attempt To Save A Dying Empire Act.”