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home : opinions : opinions
February 18, 2020

12/25/2019 7:30:00 AM
'Tis the season for liberal folly

Actually, it's always the season for liberal folly, but these cheerless folks have given us a bounty during this holiday, for their single issue - impeachment - is a gift to conservatives that likely will keep on giving right through next November.

Impeachment is not popular with most voters, and Democrats know it, but they know that it is better than talking about their hard-left positions on issues, which Americans disapprove of even more.

That knowledge is why, on the federal level, Democrats try to gift wrap themselves in impeachment paper, all the better to camouflage their true colors.

But liberals have their smoke and mirrors on the local level, too, and to find them we have to look no further than to all the supposedly nonpartisan referenda questions being pushed around the Northwoods.

Two referenda questions in particular are making their way onto spring election ballots, one to take legislative and congressional redistricting away from the voters and put it into the hands of unelected "independent experts," and another to denounce "corporate personhood" and cut off the ability of these so-called corporate persons to give direct campaign contributions.

As it turns out, these referenda questions are not nonpartisan at all but loaded with political implications, the biggest being that, if they were actually adopted in the way their backers would have it, Democrats would reap big electoral windfalls.

We would ask town boards in our area to consider very carefully whether the questions should be presented as written. There's nothing wrong with asking voters their opinions, towns should just make sure the questions are not loaded with bias, as the currently presented questions are.

Most egregious is that the questions are being framed as innocent and nonpartisan when they represent the interests of liberals and the Democratic Party. As we report in this edition, the organizations aligned with the groups pushing the referenda are long-time cohorts of the Democratic Party.

The One Wisconsin Institute, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, the Center for Media and Democracy - all these and others involved in one or the other of these efforts are practically attached to the hip of the Democratic Party, and are the usual suspects when the party needs to trot out its talking points.

It amazes us that the Left simply cannot be honest in its politics and policies. There needs to be truth-in-labeling when it comes to these efforts, but these groups know that means almost certain defeat when the voters realize what the implications of the proposals are.

To wit, the groups say they want to end gerrymandering, but the process they propose, including the use of the so-called efficiency gap, would actually create widespread gerrymandering to ensure more Democratic victories. That's because Democrats cluster in large urban areas, diluting their strength across most of the rest of the state. The truth is, most of the people in those other geographic areas of the state don't want Democrats to represent them, but the process envisioned by liberals would force liberal representation down their throats.

Just how fair is that?

Liberals like to complain that the current "gerrymandered" districts were drawn by Republicans after the GOP gained control of both chambers of the Legislature in 2010. It's true that the GOP drew the districts to their advantage - elections have consequences - but it's also true that they did so within the legal parameters of redistricting, including the preservation of district compactness and contiguousness.

The more important point is that the districts that produced those huge election margins for Republicans in 2010 were drawn in 2000, and were not the result of partisan gerrymandering.

In 2000, the Democrats controlled the Senate; the Republicans controlled the Assembly, and the result was the failure to adopt a state legislative plan that pushed redistricting into the courts. The state court deferred to the federal court, which issued state legislative plans.

The point is that the liberal federal courts created the districts that in 2010 went heavily Republican. The elections that gave the GOP a Republican Senate majority and a Republican Assembly majority and that caused many liberal Democrats to be booted from their seats were held before the so-called gerrymandering that followed the 2010 census.

So gerrymandering didn't give the GOP majorities in both chambers of the Legislature; Democratic policies did. And now what Democrats and liberals actually want is their own gerrymandered system that protects them from accountability.

Hint: Liberals should stop whining and adopt policies that win more elections.

As for corporate personhood and the ability of corporations to make direct independent expenditures for political communications, a corporation is not a person any more than a basket of apples is an apple, and no one is saying they are.

A basket of apples is not an apple, it's a collection of apples; a corporation is not a person, either, it's a collection of people. The big difference - and the critical distinction - between the basket of apples and the corporation is that the individual apples are not in the basket because of their free will.

Corporations are voluntary associations of people, and that's where we get to the heart of free speech. Indeed, even in the infamous Citizens United opinion, the court did not rule that corporations were people or that corporations have free speech rights.

What the court said was, it is a violation of individuals' free speech rights to prohibit independent expenditures for the direct advocacy of candidates when people do so through a corporation or union or nonprofit group or any other voluntary association.

Here's what the majority wrote: "If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech."

Precisely. It's so simple. Repealing regulations and prohibitions against corporate political spending have nothing to do with corporate rights and everything to do with our rights. Those bans, if upheld, would violate our individual right to voluntarily enter into an association with other people and pool our money with them in political advocacy, whether that is through a corporation, a union, or a basket of outspoken apples.

Our right to free speech includes our right to speak in concert with others, so long as we don't suppress the rights of others. If our group has more money than yours, that's your tough luck.

Indeed, why should a group of shareholders and corporate owners be banned from, or limited in, pooling their resources to speak on behalf of their group's interests, when a billionaire leftist like George Soros can unload his wallet at will?

What if we applied the same logic the liberals want to use for freedom of speech to freedom of religion? Presumably, in that case, it would be OK for us to practice our religion to our heart's content if we did so by ourselves, but, as soon as we joined a church, our religious liberty would be regulated and perhaps prohibited.

It's apparent that allowing the government to regulate and control organized religious practice would kill religious liberty and usher in an era of persecution. It would put the government in charge of religion.

It's the same with speech. Allowing the government to regulate organized speech will kill free speech itself. It will put the government in charge, and that's called government speech, not free speech, much like we have government schools rather than ones freely selected.

Of course, that's the real point, isn't it? The precise goal of all this "campaign finance reform" activism and referenda is to give the government and its special-interest partners control of speech.

So we advise area towns to think very hard before putting these loaded questions on the ballot. And, in towns where they will be on the ballot this spring, we urge citizens to reject these questions as the dishonestly composed propaganda devices that they are.

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