The other major political story (and outrage) of the week just passed is the apparent death of federal voter protection legislation. I say apparent because it’s never over until it’s over but to put it in medical terms the prognosis is not good. At this point I am encouraging the Democrats to take what I will call the Political Option.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had originally planned on putting voter protection legislation on the floor by today. With Hawaii Democratic Senator Brian Schatz testing positive for COVID (he is boosted and asymptomatic – vaccines do work) that has to be delayed until at least tomorrow. I encourage Schumer to put the legislation on the floor at which point the Republicans will filibuster it. The 60 votes needed to break the filibuster simply do not exist. The plan – and I encourage Schumer to go through with it – is at that point to introduce a rule change to carve out this type of legislation from being subject to the filibuster. That could be achieved if all 50 Senators caucusing with the Democrats simply voted aye. At this writing that doesn’t appear to be in the cards.
I say do it anyway and get everyone on the record. Voter protection is incredibly popular. These votes will have all 100 senators on the record. All 50 Republicans will be on the record opposing the will of their voters. Use it against them in the coming elections. The ads will simply be along the lines of: Do you favor X (in this case voter protection) followed by a statement that your Republican incumbent senator voted against it. Why I call this the political option is because I would use the same messaging with many other issues. (i.e., when you were out of work and broke your incumbent Republican Senator voted against the stimulus checks and that new bridge you cross when you take your kids to school; your incumbent Republican Senator voted against that too.)
In a few cases -like I’m assuming a failed attempt to change the filibuster rule – a handful of Democrats will be on the naughty list; so be it. If the rule change vote goes the way it is expected to the Democrats will be 96% on the side of the people and the Republicans 0%. Going back to school 96 is an A; 0 a big fat F.
I lack the time and space to get into all of the particulars but one of the most important aspects of the voter protection legislation is that it would codify pre-clearance. In its disastrous Shelby County decision, the Court gutted that part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (Another Roberts Court it’s old premise.) The current situation is that the Republicans set up gerrymandered districts and they stand until overturned; the cycle repeats and we come up to a new census where we get a “new clock”. They also change local and state voting rules, many of which are eventually, like the districts, thrown out in court but the elections held under those maps and rules stand along with the bad legislation those unfairly and illegally elected Republicans pass. This is a case of rewarding the arsonist instead of preventing the fire in the first place.
Unrelated to the voting rights work in the Senate is the January 6th House Committee. The plan is supposedly to go public soon. I think they should hold as many prime time, televised hearings as possible to expose the complicity of the Republicans in the attack on our Capital. These will be political infomercials that can’t be bought. They won’t change the minds (or should it be “minds”) of the hard core Trumpers, but it will motivate (read: anger) many of the Democratic leaning motivateables to show up at the polls along with swaying many of the few true swing voters over. Hence, Political Option and legitimate as opposed to a Benghazi Committee.
Today is MLK Day. King is correctly remembered of as a civil rights leader. When it came to specific issues, he mainly worked for voting rights and jobs. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee where he was helping striking sanitation workers.
I am among those who feel that American democracy is under attack. The most fundamental right in a democracy is the right to vote. You have to ask yourself why the Republicans are so afraid of high voter turnout. I think the answer – and history seems to reinforce my opinion – that they can’t win unless they rig the electorate.
Today is MLK Day, let’s remember his legacy by acting like Americans.
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