While you weren’t looking

No doubt Donald J. Trump’s antics consume a lot of your attention. But the Trump administration isn’t alone in trying to dismantle American democracy. While you weren’t looking — or maybe you were just looking the other way — Republicans and Democrats were trying to take your rights away from you.

ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right-wing group funded by the Koch brothers and devoted to taking your rights away from you, has really done it this time.

Today ALEC will be considering the following:

Originally, the U.S. Constitution provided for U.S. Senators to be selected by state legislatures however the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution adopted in 1914 upended 124 years of precedent calling for direct election of U.S. Senators. This change heralded many unintended consequences including greater federal overreach and Senate campaigns that are so costly that U.S. Senators become unduly beholden to special interests. This model policy urges the U.S. Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to overturn the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Yes, that’s right. You’re not hallucinating. ALEC wants to take away your right to directly elect your U.S. Senator by overturning the 17th Amendment of the United States Constitution. And if it succeeds, well, why not the 15th and the 19th too? Gilead plus the Confederacy would really make a lot of Republicans happy.

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It pains me to say this, but there are a bunch of Democrats trying to destroy democracy with a different wrecking ball.

43 Senators — 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats — want to criminalize free speech by making criticism of Israel a felony punishable by a $250,000 fine or 20 years in prison.

The bill, S. 720, called the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, is co-sponsored by the following Democratic senators: Michael F. Bennet (CO), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Maria Cantwell (WA), Christopher A. Coons (DE), Joe Donnelly (IN), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (NY), Margaret Wood Hassan (NH), Joe Manchin III (WV), Claire McCaskill (MO), Robert Menendez (NJ), Bill Nelson (FL), Gary C. Peters (MI), Charles E. Schumer (NY) and Ron Wyden (OR).

The House version, H. 1697, has 237 co-sponsors, but 63 Democratic representatives decided to trash the First Amendment too: Pete Aguilar (CA), Nanette Diaz Barragan (CA), Joyce Beatty (OH), Sanford D. Bishop (GA), Robert A. Brady (PA), Anthony G. Brown (MD), Tony Cardenas (CA), Kathy Castor (FL), J. Luis Correa (CA), Joe Courtney (CT), John K. Delaney (MD), Theodore E. Deutch (FL), Eliot L. Engel (NY), Ruben Gallego (AZ), Vicente Gonzalez (TX), Josh Gottheimer (NJ), Gene Green (TX), Colleen Hanabusa (HI), Alcee L. Hastings (FL), Brian Higgins (NY), Steny H. Hoyer (MD), Hakeem S. Jeffries (NY), Joseph P. Kennedy (MA), Derek Kilmer (WA), Rick Larsen (WA), John B. Larson (CT), Sander M. Levin (MI), Ted Lieu (CA), Daniel Lipinski (IL), Nita M. Lowey (NY), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY), A. Donald McEachin (VA), Grace Meng (NY), Grace F. Napolitano (CA), Richard E. Neal (MA), Donald Norcross (NJ), Tom O’Halleran (AZ), Frank Pallone (NJ), Jimmy Panetta (CA), Collin C. Peterson (MN), Kathleen M. Rice (NY), Jacky Rosen (NV), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA), C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD), John P. Sarbanes (MD), Adam B. Schiff (CA), Bradley Scott Schneider (IL), Kurt Schrader (OR), David Scott (GA), Brad Sherman (CA), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Albio Sires (NJ), Adam Smith (WA), Darren Soto (FL), Thomas R. Suozzi (NY), Eric Swalwell (CA), Dina Titus (NV), Juan Vargas (CA), Marc A. Veasey (TX), Filemon Vela (TX), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL), and Frederica S. Wilson (FL).

Section 5 of the bill specifically identifies Israel boycotts as political acts to be criminalized.

If this passes, what sorts of political acts and opinion will be criminalized next?

Many of the Democratic senators supporting the bill often cross the aisle to vote for extreme Republican legislation, but it was shocking that Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer chose to join them. And Ron Wyden, for all his great work defending the Fourth Amendment, turned his back on the First. Among the Massachusetts congressional delegation, Joseph Kennedy III (4th Congressional district) won’t be winning his family’s “profiles in courage” award for his betrayal of the Constitution, nor will Richard Neal (1st). I suppose I should be grateful that Bill Keating (9th) — at least for the moment — hasn’t co-sponsored the House version.

Democrats. I’m really trying to like you, but why do you make it so damned hard?

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