Eliza Newlin Carney

Eliza Newlin Carney is a weekly columnist at The American Prospect. Her email is ecarney@prospect.org.

 

Recent Articles

To Reassert Its Lost Power, Congress Must Join the 21st Century

democracy_rules.jpg As Congress struggles to regain its place as the first (or even a coequal) branch of government, public attention has centered on the House committees issuing contempt citations to seek court enforcement of their Trump administration subpoenas. But a little-noticed special committee toiling quietly out of the limelight might stand the best chance of helping Congress seize back some of the power it has ceded to the executive branch. The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, set up in January as part of a deal between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House moderates, is tackling an unglamorous but crucial question: How can Congress update its outmoded rules and infrastructure, and start to function again? It’s no simple task. The committee’s easiest and most obvious first step, as journalist and scholar Lee Drutman has argued, would be to “give Congress its brain” back by investing in support agencies like the Congressional Research...

Voter Registration Is Surging—So Republicans Want to Criminalize It

democracy_rules.jpg The new face of voter suppression is also the oldest Jim Crow tactic on the books: Block voters from getting on the rolls to begin with. In the wake of a midterm that saw surging turnout by non-white, young, and urban voters—all blocs that tend to favor Democrats—a backlash in GOP state legislatures was perhaps inevitable. What troubles voting rights advocates is that Republicans have now set out to penalize not just voters but the groups trying to register them, in some cases with astronomical fines and jail time that effectively criminalize civic engagement. The most extreme example is a law newly enacted in Tennessee that imposes civil and criminal penalties, including fines of up to $10,000 or more and close to a year in jail, on organizers who submit incomplete registration forms, fail to participate in state-mandated trainings, or fail to submit forms within a ten-day window. The law violates both the First and the 14th Amendments, say civil...

Republicans Abandon Election Security

democracy_rules.jpg Russian attacks on the U.S. election infrastructure in 2016 were even more serious than reported at the time, recent disclosures show, and intelligence officials say they are bracing for more aggressive attacks from a wider array of foreign adversaries in 2020. Yet instead of moving to shore up the nation’s vulnerable voting machines and databases, the Trump administration is sabotaging efforts to enhance election security at every turn. Trump’s determination to portray Russian interference as a hoax has made it taboo for members of his own administration to even talk about foreign meddling, and has derailed the leading bipartisan election security bill on Capitol Hill. To make matters worse, Republicans have signaled that they don’t even plan to hold a single hearing on election security legislation—despite a growing list of bills introduced in recent weeks to block foreign interference on multiple fronts , many of them bipartisan . The...

FEC Dysfunction Now Threatens Democracy

democracy_rules.jpg Of all the Federal Election Commission’s many chronic breakdowns in recent years, its failure to take the slightest action to either stave off or respond to Russian meddling in the 2016 election is the most damaging to American democracy. The FEC repeatedly considered but never approved straightforward new rules to require internet advertisers to better identify themselves, a move that could have helped deter Russian disinformation on social media. And now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has concluded that the Russian government interfered in the election “in sweeping and systematic fashion,” the FEC remains missing in action. That the FEC is precisely the gridlocked and ineffectual agency that Congress intended it to be is nothing new. What’s new is that the FEC’s well-documented partisan stalemates have become so routine, and its staff so hollowed-out and demoralized, that the commission has moved from dysfunctional to...

“Total Exoneration?” Not So Fast.

Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
President Donald Trump and his team are spinning the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted Russia report as a harmless distraction that will do nothing to sway voters, and some analysts appear inclined to agree. The 400-page report’s release “won’t change the basic calculus” that Republicans and Democrats are entrenched in their positions, wrote Peter Nicholas and Elaina Plott in The Atlantic this week , adding that “some Democratic strategists believe that their party shouldn’t fight to keep the issue alive.” But Trump remains vulnerable, particularly on the campaign finance front. Several ongoing investigations point to clear-cut political money violations related to his hush-money payments, to his inaugural committee, and to his now-shuttered foundation. And the question of whether Trump’s campaign received illegal foreign contributions from Russia—which election law defines as “anything of value...

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