Lobbying and Campaigning Rights for Nonprofits

So, if religious groups can have a tax exemption, but are not resticted in their campaign and lobbying activities, surely it must be unconstitutional to deny the same rights to nonprofit organizations.  That would both be content based discrimination and establishment of religion.

That might lead to more than Trump bargained for today.

Be careful what you wish for.

The Globalization of Elections Will be a Great Thing — Provided We Survive This Awful First Phase

The digital international interference in our election — ghastly and disastrous though it is — is just the first phase on a process of the globalization of the democratic and political processes.

If we start with the obvious assumption that people in all countries now have enormous interests in the results of elections in other countries, add to it the nearly as obvious assumption that the more they realize that, the more they will expect to have a way of communicating that, you very quickly get to the idea that the international system needs to build ways that those views can be communicated to voters in each country.

Without it any way condoning Putin’s behavior, or certainly Trump’s two-faced encouragement of it, nonetheless, seeing it as an expression of that desire to be heard by a highly powerless and frightened country, may help us think of long-term ways of ensuring that cross national voices are heard.

Of course, any such approaches have to be transparent, truthful, multi-lateral, and respectful — all qualities in much shorter display than they should be.

But imagine for a moment that a mechanism had existed for Russian voters to communicate to their US equivalents their of course overblown and hopelessly manipulated fears for Russians in the Stalin-Diaspora.  Maybe those fears would then have been less subject to manipulation and hysteria.  Of course, it would have been necessary for Russian voters to have known that the fears had been communicated, and at least to some extent, heard.  I wonder also how well the working class voters in the UK who carried Brexit knew what those similarly situated in the EU, many of whom they must have met in their now cheap European holidays, felt about the issue.

There is an interesting, but failed, precedent for this.  Back in 2004, the Guardian organized a project which encouraged Brits to write to Clarke County Ohio voters (cold communication), expressing their concerns.  The experiment backfired, with the Republicans making hay with the supposed interference.  Most Republicans appear to have been more sensitive about such things in those days!  (Maybe they are less concerned about covert involvement than transparent efforts.)  Looked at from the non-US point of view, of course, that over-reaction would have shown the rest of the world that the US was contemptuous of the views of outsiders.  Again, without justifying the conclusion, such a feeling would reinforce the sense that the only way to influence  US elections is covertly.

So getting Americans used to the idea will have to be a critical component of any strategy.

Some first thoughts on ways of moving forward in the short term might be:

Having Americans living abroad reaching out to people in their host countries and systematically sharing what they hear of what people want from the US with their networks and even in a new special public forum.

Similarly, encouraging those with family abroad to solicit the views of family and share them in such a forum.

Much better cross-national polling, with explanations of countries strongly held views and explanations for those views.

General encouragement of e-mail and other communication across borders — not in one direction, but reciprocally and multi-laterally, with a particular emphasis on linking people with similar backgrounds who would tend to trust each other.  (Much easier now with translation software.)

Having a televised Presidential debate before an international audience, and with the questions submitted by that audience.  It would be a great opportunity for grandstanding, but also a wonderful test of how candidates dealt with all the challenges of that environment.  Imagine to the message to the world about our understanding of our international responsibilities.

Having the various processes by which governments consult the public be expanded to welcome international views.  It is hard to imagine the incoming administration adopting such processes, but not so hard to imagine some state governments, such as those of California, dong so.  Indeed, to think of a concrete example, the California Courts adjudicate cases all the time involving those outside the US, particularly family cases.  Would it not make sense for the California Courts, in the process of soliciting opinions from their user, to listen to to out of country users?

That is all about communication.  In the long term, we need globalized institutions that provide reassurance to voters in all countries that their interests will be protected.






What Does Really Big Business Think About Trump?

The answer to this question may appear in this apparent memo written within the US Chamber of Commerce, but not yet on Wikileaks.

To:        Leading Members, Chamber

From:  Policy Council

Re:        Analysis

Our long term view is that not only the coming Trump Presidency but the voting behavior that made it possible represents a fundamental threat to the interests of our members.

The election not only throws into doubt many short term aspects of the decision-making environment in which our members operate, but also casts into doubt whether American voters can be relied up for consistent support for the international stabilization predictability, integration and standardization that is essential for out members, and indeed similar organizations in other economic zones, to operate effectively.

In that sense, any short term policy changes are much less harmful (and some may even be beneficial to many of our members in the short term) than the lack of confidence in the future existence of the American umbrella that is no longer reliably avoidable for our members.

The question therefore for leadership is whether we need to shift our long term focus from our current reliance on the US political system and the power of the US, to the strengthening of a network of international quasi and supra governmental organizations that can provide the guaranteed predictable environment that our members require.

An even more difficult question is how much we are willing to accept international enforcement of human rights guarantees in return for the international groups having sufficient power to provide that guarantee.  Of course, such agreement by the states to the US Bill of Rights was essential to obtaining ratification of the US Constitution.

Such a major change for the Chamber will be the result of a long process of assessment and planning, but it is our view that that process must begin now.



Washington Post Explains Why Last Minute Regs Are Worth The Investment and Planning

The Post explains here why even last minute regs are worth the effort.

While Republicans are already warning that they will reverse some of the rules Obama will issue during the last months of his presidency, White House officials are determined to move ahead, reasoning that having more rules in place will force the new administration to choose which ones are worth the time and effort of reversal.  .  .

A GOP Senate leadership aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a process that is still underway, said every committee is working to identify what rules under its jurisdiction might be reversed. Given the fact that each rule reversal takes up 10 hours of floor time in the Senate and that senators must also confirm key political nominees and pass a budget, the aide estimated that Congress was likely to overturn between five and seven of Obama’s last rules.

For the administration, that means full speed ahead.

So, the lesson from now for the future is that if, in eight or more years we are again in a position of having an access-to-justice engaged President leave office, we should do a better job to being ready to take advantage of this time.  Surely, much could have been done with the right preparation (access to justice example).

P.S. There is a complex statutory structure, not described in this article, that facilitates reversal of more recently enacted regulations, but that does not undercut the basic point of this post.