Vice President Joe Biden and the Democrat Party at large have recently embarked upon a messianic crusade to attack opposition fundraising, invoking the time-honored tropes of classic populism. “It bothers me, all these unattributed contributions,” he thundered to campaign workers in Scranton, PA yesterday. “I challenge the Chamber of Commerce to tell us how much of the money they’re investing is from foreign sources,” he continued, conjuring up an insidious plot of external enemies burrowing into American democracy. For as many questionable financial issues as there are in U.S. politics (and there are quite a few, for both parties), this kind of unsubstantiated rhetoric coming from the Vice President still comes as a shock, and is eerily reminiscent of the language we hear from a number authoritarian states which nominally call themselves “democratic.”
Specifically, Biden’s ominous comments call to mind a speech made by then-President Vladimir Putin in 2007, as his government began to introduce a series of new laws cracking down on NGOs. In an effort to fire up his base and justify the state’s strangulation of civil society, Putin blasted his opponents as being funded by foreign sources. “Unfortunately there are still those people in our country who act like jackals at foreign embassies… who count on the support of foreign funds and governments but not the support of their own people.”This rhetorical parallel between Biden and Putin is a deplorable embarrassment to the Democrat Party, and makes one wonder whether or not the “reset” with Russia included a swap of political advisors. In attempting to rouse fear and false xenophobia as a way to energize voters, the Democrats are experimenting with the basest elements of the electorate, and setting themselves down a dangerous path.For starters, there is no evidence supporting Biden’s accusations nor any grounds for other attack ads hitting the airwaves. “There is no evidence at all that the chamber has done anything illegally,” said election law expert Richard L. Hasen in an interview with the Associated Press. “The problem is not that the allegation is not a big deal. The problem is that the allegation is not backed by any facts.”When Obama adviser David Axelrod was cornered by Bob Schiefer on the issue of foreign money on CBS’s Face the Nation, it appeared to have an impact: the president made a quick edit to drop any comment on the issue during his speech in Miami on Monday – however Biden and the DNC are still charging forward, despite the media’s broad rejection of the tactic.In a truly free society, no one should be afraid of ideas and arguments, even if they differ from those who currently hold power. This is why in an un-free Russia, tightly in the grip of Putin, there has been such a desperate need for the government to claim that anyone who disagrees with them must obviously be part of a foreign plot. Certainly some smarter members of the Democrat Party can come up with better arguments in response to what the Chamber of Commerce is doing, instead of simply inventing stories on the provenance of its financing.