As I wrote in September, "Bernie Sanders has an achilles heal...[which is his] constitutional amendment that would empower Congress to regulate any spending by anyone that could somehow affect an election." Such expansive authority would be unprecedented, as would the litmus test Sanders and Hillary Clinton say they'll apply to Supreme Court nominees if either of them gets to make any judicial appointments. Jeb Bush recently said he also wants to limit what can be spent on so-called political speech. But unlike the two leading Democratic candidates, Bush would not require his appointees to commit in advance to delivering a specific judicial outcome. Regardless of any other factors, no officeholder or candidate who believes independent political expenditures should be restricted or banned can be taken seriously unless he or she explains how to distinguish what's regulable from what isn't. Until they see a principled way to draw such lines, legislators and judges can't possibly make the necessary determinations. In other words, if Sanders were to offer a lousy idea, it would be an improvement. As it stands, he has no idea at all. The senator has only a hunch that someone else will figure out what apparently has him stumped.
Sanders deserves especially strong condemnation, because he's not just spewing campaign rhetoric as Clinton and Bush are. He's also pushing a constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to pass legislation subjecting Americans to imprisonment for merely paying a fee to share information or opinions. What could be more predictive of how he would conduct himself as president than how he has conducted himself as senator?
Given the increasing possibility of Sanders winning the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, and how his ascension coincides with the Supreme Court vacancy created by Antonin Scalia's unexpected death, the need to thwart efforts to "overturn" Citizens United has emerged anew. Sanders will undoubtedly step up his call to amend the Constitution in an effort to circumvent the Court's ruling, and when he does, he will face fierce resistance from unPAC USA, a new committee-media hybrid established to address confusion and misconceptions about independent political expenditures. I am leading that offensive, and forming a cross-partisan/nonpartisan coalition to hold candidates and elected representatives accountable for their unlettered opposition to Citizens United. The primary goal is not to extinguish anyone's political viability, but to serve notice that a candidate or officeholder who advocates the regulation of independent speech will suffer a devastating downfall as an inevitable consequence.
The notion of limiting what can be spent on influence is preposterous and infeasible in so many ways that the average person, who hasn't given the issue a lot of thought, is unlikely to grasp. So unPAC USA will gradually create and disseminate easily-digested content in all forms until an extensive, comprehensible and winning argument has been made. I'll be hosting live discussions and strategy sessions with scholars, artists and the public on a new social media platform called Blab that facilitates online video chats with up to four people simultaneously plus an unlimited amount of people who can watch, listen and participate via text. My first guest is former FEC Chairman Bradley Smith, who is currently a law professor at Capital University, and Chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics.
As soon as we have adequate funding, we'll begin making videos that are destined to go viral. Because we're an unPAC, we can accept unlimited and anonymous donations, and Bernie Sanders can't do a damn thing about it.
This post was originally published at CitizenJeff.com.