Two Possible Political Scenarios

Instead of picking the biggest political story of the week just passed today I want to briefly explore two possible political scenarios; one whispered about and the other ignored.

!@#$%^& Joe!

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is hardly the toast of many Democratic gatherings these days. More likely his name is mentioned in the same sentence with words that would violate my PG rating. Progressives are extremely frustrated with him! He along with, and to a lesser degree, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are the outliers in the Senate Democratic caucus and are increasingly frustrating progressives.

The kneejerk reaction of many Democrats is “let him go”; not so quick. The current Senate is (48+2) 50 – 50, with the Democrats in the majority by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris and her (if necessary) tie breaking vote. Even if the filibuster rule remains intact that is a huge deal.

With the majority Chuck Schumer sets the Senate agenda. That means that bills Nancy Pelosi gets through the House are not DOA as they would be with Mitch McConnell calling the shots. They may not pass but at least they can see the Senate floor. With the majority a Democrat chairs every Senate committee. Legislation can be “tied up in committee” at the discretion of the Chair to the point that it never sees the floor and the full body. In other words they are killed without most senators having to take a public position on them.

Positions requiring senate confirmation only require a majority vote. That can (and has been) a 51-50 tie breaker vote. Remember under the current rules that includes Supreme Court nominees. How do you think many of Biden’s Cabinet nominees would have fared if the Democrats only had 49 votes?

Frustrating as he may be, America and certainly the Democratic Party are much better off with Joe Manchin in the fold than they would be with him in the Republican caucus. The long-term solution is to flip two or three Senate seats in 2022 (and that is doable) to give Chuck Schumer a situation where he can lose a vote or two or give a member or two a politically needed “pass”. Progressives, don’t invoke a purity test; elect more Senate Democrats.

What If?

Republican voter suppression seems to have gotten a steroid shot from the big lie. They actually have many of their useful idiots believing it. The Democrats are attempting to counter it by passing HR1 and HR4. There is a chance they may become law; there is an equally good chance they will be severely watered down or fail. For this discussion let’s assume they are enacted basically intact.

While the Constitution is somewhat unclear on this topic it appears that federal election law may only be applicable to federal elections. In 1865 the Thirteenth Amendment gave the vote to former male slaves over 21. In 1868 the Fourteenth Amendment established birthright citizenship in America. In 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment gave to vote to women over 21. In 1971, I personally benefitted from the Twenty-sixth Amendment which lowered the voting age to 18. In all those cases the changes really only directly applied to federal elections (ones for President, Vice President, Senate – after 1913 and the direct election of senators – and the House of Representatives). Most likely as matters of convenience and budget constraints, in the past states extended those rights to down ballot offices. What if they decided not to this time around?

If nothing else that would put us into a legal grey area. Looking at the Roberts Court, especially its current version, can you see a legal challenge that had a chance of being upheld? I can. It would be both expensive and stupid for a state to run two separate voting systems but isn’t refusing Medicaid expansion or a host of other things Republican led states have been doing recently?

For the moment HR1 and HR4 may well be the best we can do and I certainly support passage of both. My focus has always been on national issues but state and local elections are equally important. In the 2010 election Republicans took advantage of Democrats’ typical mid-term election apathy and we are still paying for it. Don’t be part of the problem in 2022!

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One thought on “Two Possible Political Scenarios”

  1. If the federal government can’t trump (sorry) state laws with respect to discrimination, what’s the point of having a federal government? This insistence on “states’ rights” has always been counterproductive. We might just as well get rid of the national flag and the national anthem.

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