In attempting to own conservatives by leaking partial audio of a presentation to Republicans by the director of research at a conservative nonprofit, staff writer Jane Mayer at The New Yorker further illuminates why H.R. 1 is a garbage proposal. Mayer misunderstands the Republican base’s argument completely and produces a straw man.
The March 29 report is based on audio from a Jan. 8 phone call in which Kyle McKenzie of Stand Together discusses the “For The People Act,” known as H.R. 1. The election bill passed in the House on March 3 at a vote of 220 to 210. The Democrats require a supermajority of 60 votes in the Senate to pass it and some seek to eliminate the filibuster to do so.
In the leaked call, McKenzie provides strategies to Republican congressional staffers on how the GOP ought to most effectively communicate to voters what the misguided legislation imposes. He grants that establishment GOP messaging has thus far failed to educate people enough about H.R. 1, and suggests those on the call provide thorough explanations and anecdotes to voters instead of engaging in “surface-level messaging” that is frankly common in political debates nowadays.
McKenzie notes the GOP has engaged in one-sided messaging on H.R. 1, instead of offering human stories and why the legislation will directly affect people. McKenzie also claims polling has shown support for the measure. While Democrats argue a Data for Progress poll in February that found 68 percent of “likely voters” would support this assertion, an Honest Elections Project poll in March showed 64 percent of respondents seek to protect laws fighting voter fraud.
McKenzie correctly points out H.R. 1 is a convoluted bill. Therefore, Americans do need to be offered specific ways it would affect their lives, not fed repetitive lectures from Republican operatives on socialism or the like.
A significant flaw of Mayer’s article is her reliance on McKenzie as a pseudo-spokesman for all of the GOP, branding him as some sort of all-knowing figure behind the curtain pulling the strings. She both mischaracterizes H.R. 1 and misunderstands major reasons conservatives take issue with it.
What H.R. 1 Really Is
The New Yorker writer relies on The New York Times‘ claim that H.R. 1 is “the most substantial expansion of voting rights in a half-century.” Mayer says the efforts by Republicans “to deter Democratic constituencies from voting” is even more appalling given “the extraordinary attempts by Donald Trump and his supporters to undermine the 2020 election.”
For starters, Mayer chiefly neglects to mention supporters of Democrat candidates who have also objected to election results. The left has made a big stink about the Republicans who objected to the 2020 certification of the Electoral College, but Democrats have done just this for the last three Republican presidents.
Even if the writer’s characterization of “extraordinary” is to define those who wished to undermine the election is in the context of the breach at the Capitol in January, the idea this group represents a majority of the Republican Party is completely unsubstantiated, not to mention the opposite of the truth. Also, if Mayer wants to talk about “extraordinary attempts” to “undermine” the American system, look no further than the billions of dollars in rioting and looting Black Lives Matter and Antifa inflicted in more than 20 cities in the most expensive manmade disaster in U.S. history.
Mayer oversimplifies the 800-page legislation. For someone who wrote a little over 2,000 words criticizing Republicans for supposedly failing thus far on voter messaging, she avoids a fair characterization of her own party’s goals. If Mayer is going to stand behind a bill proposed by her own coalition, she should say what it actually would do. But she doesn’t. Why?
H.R. 1 is a Democratic Party wishlist to eliminate election security. Among other things it does, which The Federalist has reported on here, here, and here, the For The People Act would turn election day into election season. It would also require blanketing the country with hundreds of millions of mail-in ballots, extending the confusion of 2020 to every future federal election.
Mayer’s backing of President Joe Biden’s press conference claim the GOP opposing the bill is “sick” and “un-American” is only fitting, since both Biden and The New Yorker writer oversimplify the measure and do not mostly address GOP concerns. This includes a two-week delay in ballots being opened, zero voter ID at polls, enabling 16- and 17-year-olds to register to vote, a mandate against election audit recounts, and much much more.
None of these provisions are mentioned in Mayer’s analysis, and it is clear why. Allowing 16-year-olds to vote is a policy that Americans have overwhelmingly disapproved of in the past, per a Hill-HarrisX poll. According to a McLaughlin & Associates/Newsmax poll in Nov. 2020, two-thirds of Americans believed Trump’s election recount efforts in the 2020 presidential election were fair and legal.
A Rasmussen poll from March showed 75 percent of voters support ID laws as a prerequisite to casting a ballot. This is echoed by the aforementioned Honest Elections Project poll. It states:
Over three-quarters (77%) want people to show a photo ID to cast a ballot, while only 14% oppose it. Voters who supported Joe Biden in the 2020 election back ID requirements by nearly 40 points (62% vs. 24%). Majorities of Republicans (92%), Independents (75%), and Democrats (63%) all support voter ID. Some politicians and progressive activists frequently malign voter ID laws as discriminatory, but by huge margins both Black and Hispanic voters favor them (for Black voters, 64% vs. 22%; for Hispanic voters, 78% vs. 16%). Similarly, 64% of Black voters, 77% of Hispanics, and 76% of low income voters reject the notion that showing an ID is a ‘burden,’ despite frequent claims from the left.
While Mayer claims H.R. 1 is “overwhelmingly popular across the political spectrum,” and chides McKenzie for failing to acknowledge this erroneous platitude, many of its major provisions have been measured in polls as highly unpopular. But the author deceivingly neglects this.
Donor Disclosure In H.R. 1
Instead of discussing any of the above provisions and more H.R. 1 would push through, The New Yorker writer solely focuses on the bill’s forcing of organizations and political speakers to disclose political donations. Mayer grossly mischaracterizes the provision and why conservatives find it deeply dangerous.
“The speakers on the call expressed alarm at the broad popularity of the bill’s provision calling for more public disclosure about secret political donors,” Mayer writes.
To play devil’s advocate for a moment, let’s assume H.R. 1 is a demonstrably popular bill Americans support. Even if this were the case, Mayer’s argument relies on the idea that just because something is popular means it is the proper policy to pursue. Sure, Mayer sprinkles in a few examples of literal support for the measure, but she largely just claims H.R. 1’s “popularity” makes it necessary to pass, superficially rendering the GOP “out of touch.”
There is a thing called right and wrong in society, and eliminating privacy for law-abiding citizens to expose them to harassment by pressure groups is surely wrong. As The Heritage Foundation cites, H.R. 1 would mandate exorbitant rates for “candidates, citizens, civic groups, unions, corporations, and nonprofit organizations” and “its onerous disclosure requirements for nonprofit organizations would subject their members and donors to intimidation and harassment.”
The writer also trivializes the fact that the left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union has voiced disapproval over the donor disclosure provision in H.R. 1. The ACLU acknowledged in a January letter to House Democrats the measure “could harm political advocacy and expose non-profit donors to harassment and threats of violence should their support for organizations be subject to forced disclosure.”
“And the A.C.L.U. supports almost all of the expansions of voting rights contained in the bill, although it has sided with the Koch groups and other conservative organizations in arguing that donors to nonprofit groups could be harassed if their names are disclosed,” Mayer writes.
Nonprofit Involvement in Politics
“Coördinating directly with the right-wing policy groups, which define themselves as nonpartisan for tax purposes, were two top Republican congressional staffers,” Mayer writes, alluding to two congressional staffers on the leaked call.
The first part is the real kicker. The writer is misrepresenting the reality that a whole swath of left-wing public policy organizations do the exact same thing, sometimes while falsely claiming to be “nonpartisan.”
Look no further than Arabella Advisors, which claims to be “philanthropic” while funneling millions into Democratic causes through a “money-mixing” formula. Arabella moves funding through four separate political organizations that each contain dozens of other funds. It is a for-profit, pyramidal organization providing leftist nonprofits with a flow of dollars to spend.
Arabella is the king of dark money. Through the Sixteen Thirty Fund, for instance, Arabella funded Allied Progress, an organization that claims to be “nonpartisan.” Allied Progress has commissioned dozens upon dozens of articles on then-President Trump, blasting him for economic policy.
In 2018, The Washington Free Beacon reported the group was a sponsor of The New Venture Fund. The New Venture Fund is funded by the George Soros Open Society Foundations. Billionaire Soros is notable for investing $220 million in Black Lives Matter this summer.
Mayer broaches the issue of dark money organizations, although this is a losing issue for her argument. In the 2020 presidential election, dark-money groups spent $145 million to elect Joe Biden, whereas groups spent a fraction of that to elect Trump — $28 million.
Transparency In The Name Of Silence
According to Mayer, “[a]dvocates for greater transparency in political spending argue that there is no serious evidence of any such harassment” in regard to mandating public disclosure of all donors. In making this claim, the writer only cites one individual — a lawyer at the ACLU who is not quoted on the record and claimed there is no evidence there will be harassment of individuals upon the release of financial disclosures.
The senior legislative counsel, Kate Ruane, cited the backlash for millionaire actress Mila Kunis after it was reported she donated to Planned Parenthood under the false name of former Vice President Mike Pence. Ruane cited this one abnormal example as harassment involving a Hollywood elite. Ruane is a Democrat who supports Big Tech censorship, came out in support of legalized prostitution, and has flirted in several articles with the anti-Israel movement Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Mayer did not exactly choose a nonpartisan figure to aid her piece. She chose an apparent radical.
The major crux of Mayer’s argument is groups ought to have to disclose donors in the name of transparency. But a necessary follow-up to this claim is why? Do Democrats seek to uncover who is funding right-leaning organizations and people just in the holy name of “transparency,” or is another motivation fueling this effort?
Given that two-thirds of Americans agree that cancel culture is a threat to freedom, and similar numbers fear saying what they truly think, it’s pretty obvious that a supermajority of Americans agree privacy is needed to secure people’s freedoms to support whatever candidates they believe in.
Private free speech violations are on the table here. Supreme Court case NAACP v. Alabama in 1958 was a landmark decision that validated the unconstitutionality of forcing an organization to silence individuals based on disclosure.
There is great precedent in regard to the constitutionality of anonymous speech, shown by decisions in Watkins v. United States (1957), Bates v. Little Rock (1960), and Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Committee (1963), Talley v. California (1960), McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission (1995), Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation (1999), and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York v. Village of Stratton (2002).
Pressure and Intimidation
Mayer claims “pressure tactics” may work on “individual lawmakers,” noting H.R. 1 “faces an uphill fight in the Senate.” Ironically, pressure tactics are the precise reason conservatives oppose H.R. 1’s public disclosure portion. Whereas the New Yorker writer says such pressure tactics are being applied from organizations to lawmakers to oppose H.R. 1, significant pressure would be applied to all Americans if H.R. 1 passes.
In religiously fighting for transparency, Americans would face mounting obstacles in supporting a given cause. As society grows more partisan, political discrimination increases against those whose views diverge from those in power. Just look at what happened to Parler or Ryan T. Anderson’s book “When Harry Became Sally” or the example of GoFundMe shutting down a fundraiser opposing critical race theory. Now picture this times 1,000 if H.R. 1 passes.
But this is the whole point of H.R. 1, folks. It is to place us on different teams, pitted against one another, unable to participate in civil society on an equal basis. Mayer misses the point completely — and perhaps that is on purpose.