Last Chance to Save American Democracy
Charles M. Blow / New York Times Opinion Columnist
(October 17, 2021) — Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, has indicated that he plans to schedule a vote for Wednesday to open debate on a new voting rights bill, the Freedom to Vote Act.
The bill would set national standards for early voting, expand voting by mail, allow the use of more forms of voter identification, make Election Day a federal holiday and institute measures to counter voter suppression tactics. It would also automate voter registration, force states to give voters the option to register on Election Day and offer safeguards against voter purges. Finally, it would overhaul portions of the campaign finance system, prohibit partisan gerrymandering and prevent the politicized removal of election officials, among other changes.
This is a compromise bill, but it is still a good bill that would go a long way toward protecting the country’s electoral system and preventing Republicans around the country from instituting a new electoral Jim Crow.
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia — who opposed an earlier, bolder version of the bill and who opposes getting rid of the filibuster — helped craft the compromise version. He’s now invested. (This was a shrewd tactical move by Democrats, I must say.) Manchin is lobbying Republicans to support the bill — to little avail, unfortunately.
The bill is unlikely to get the 60 votes needed — all 50 Democratic senators, as well as 10 Republicans — to overcome a Republican filibuster.
What happens when Republicans filibuster the bill? Will Manchin be willing to let a bill that he helped write go down? Or will he alter or eliminate the filibuster?
This is a once in a generation moment, one pivotal to the very survival of the country as we know it.
Donald Trump and the Republican officials enthralled and entranced by him have elevated the lie of election fraud to such a degree that many Republican voters consider it one of their top priorities, which in turn gives Republican officials cover to unleash their oppression.
At an Iowa rally last week, Trump said of his election lie: “And I’m telling you, the single biggest issue, as bad as the border is, it’s horrible, horrible what they’re doing. They’re destroying our country. As bad as that is, the single biggest issue, the issue that gets the most, the most pull, the most respect, the biggest cheers is talking about the election fraud of 2020 presidential election. Nobody’s ever seen anything like it.”
That last line may well be true.
Republicans around the country have taken the distrust Trump has created and woven it into policy. They are using the lie that the electoral system was rigged to literally rig the electoral system.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, since January, “19 states have enacted 33 laws that will make it harder for Americans to vote,” making 2021 an “unprecedented year” for these bills. And those were just the ones that passed. As the center pointed out, “More than 425 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions.”
This season of oppression shouldn’t be considered a one-and-done proposition. It is very likely the beginning of an era of oppression — unless Congress intervenes.
Republican legislatures are right now drawing redistricting maps that lock in their advantages, by drawing districts that advantage white voters and disadvantage nonwhite ones — just take a look at what’s happening in Texas. The road to Democrats’ maintaining control of both the House and the Senate was already difficult, but with widespread voter suppression, the path looks even more daunting.
If Trump decides to run again in 2024 (and he is already hinting that he will), voter suppression will up his chances of winning. With Trump once again in the White House, a Republican Congress would be able to federalize voter suppression. (If they found themselves in the position the Democrats do now, they wouldn’t bat an eye at eliminating the filibuster to have their way.)
Republican groups are already working to draft legislation so that they have it ready to introduce in Congress if Trump is elected. Brooke Rollins, the president of the America First Policy Institute and a former policy director in the Trump White House, recently told Politico that “if we do our job right, we will have a package of model legislation” to bring federal policy in line with restrictive states.”
For Democrats, this voting rights bill is a top priority, but from now until something is passed, it should be the only priority. In another time, I would think that the infrastructure and reconciliation bills should take precedence. It’s impossible to argue that we don’t need those things. It is also impossible to argue that many of the provisions would not disproportionately benefit poor people and Black and Hispanic people.
But even if you have glistening infrastructure in a fascist state, you are still in a fascist state. If you get two years of community college free in a fascist state, you are still in a fascist state. If more people get broadband access, more people will be able to search for what it means to live in a fascist state.
Protecting ballot access is the only thing that matters right now.
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30 Ways Trump-Fascists’ Assault on Democracy Threatens Us All
(July 16, 2021) — The Trump Death Cult has fired up a brutal juggernaut meant to defeat American democracy once and forever. If we do not dismantle it, this nation will never know another real election.
Joe Biden has finally spoken about how serious this is. But history tells us we cannot rely on the corporate Democrats to bring us a fair electoral process.
The real movement to win an actual democracy must come from the grassroots. Here is some of what we face:
- The ultimate battle is demographic, religious, and cultural, thus running as deep as it gets.
- The evangelical/Trumpist upsurge is based on those who identify as straight white male Christian “patriots” reacting in terror to a rapidly transforming population led by a Millennial/Zoomer tsunami of multi-cultural, multi-racial diversity that the old guard simply can’t handle.
- Thus the fight takes on an apocalyptic dimension that goes far beyond just winning an election or two.
- The old demographic has built a blitzkrieg assault machine that stretches from the courts to the precincts to the militias in a desperate all-out attempt to disenfranchise the future, bringing with it levels of fear and ferocity that must not be underestimated.
- Fomenting the “Big Lie” of a stolen 2020 election, Trump mimicks Hitlerian Nazis who said they’d won World War I, but were “stabbed in the back” – the Dolchstosslegende – by Jews and liberals.
- With an iron grip on the Supreme Court and key legislatures, the GOP assault on democracy has leapt to a truly menacing level, quite capable of installing a fascist autocracy that will be very hard to root out.
- Gerrymandered state legislatures, captured by Koch-sponsored Republicans in the 2010 RedMap Coup, stand in fascist unison as a rump junta.
- Control of the swing state legislatures was engineered in 2010 by Karl Rove and his Koch-paid cohorts to buy key legislatures and thus control the gerrymandering that has guaranteed their state-based strongholds – and vast advantages in the US House – ever since.
- The Trump-fascists may have the ability to re-take the US House in 2022 just through gerrymandering.
- In 2010, the corporate Obama Democrats said virtually nothing about the de facto coup that had just taken place.
- Obama did quip that he’d just taken a “shellacking,” while proceeding to surrender to the GOP roughly a thousand elected offices.
- Key victories against gerrymandering – installing transparent multi-partisan districting commissions in California 2008/2010, and in Michigan 2018 – involved strong support from Arnold Schwarzenegger, and were strongly opposed in California by Nancy Pelosi and other corporate Democrats.
- With control of the state legislatures, the GOP has inherited the ability to overturn future presidential elections, as they nearly did in 2020.
- Only paper ballots, demanded by election protection activists since Ohio 2004, provided incontrovertible proof that Trump had been defeated in 2020.
- Had the 2020 election been conducted primarily on electronic touchscreen machines, Donald Trump would have easily won.
- GOP control of swing state legislatures has given them the ability to propose hundreds of bills – many of them already passed into law – aimed at disenfranchising tens of millions of non-millionaire citizens of youth and color.
- Anti-democracy efforts against vote-by-mail, paper ballots, sufficient precincts, food and water for those stuck in line, early voting, same-day registration, souls to the polls, help bringing ballots to the polls, provisional ballots, sufficient times to vote – and efforts to establish street address requirements, disenfranchise people voting in neighboring precincts, eliminate drop boxes, eliminate drive-through voting, require photo ID, and much more – have been rammed through gerrymandered state legislatures with alarming ease.
- Assaults on the ability of citizens to make changes by referendum have escalated.
- Stripping of supervisory electoral powers from duly-elected state officials and governors has escalated in gerrymandered Republican states.
- Corporate Democrats have been hesitant to guarantee full enfranchisement of citizens of youth and color for fear of losing primaries to progressives like Bernie Sanders, Ohio’s Nina Turner, and others.
- The 6-3 anti-democracy majority on the US Supreme Court has certified its support for fascist assaults on the rights of citizens of youth and color to vote.
- Like Chief Justice William Rehnquist before him, Chief Justice John Roberts has built his career around suppressing the right of non-millionaire citizens of youth and color to vote, and he continues to work to make sure that happens.
- The Electoral College, originally designed to protect small states and slaveowners, today tilts heavily toward rural Republicans, making it likely another Republican could soon win the White House with a minority of the popular vote.
- The fifty Republican senators in today’s Upper House represent 42 million fewer citizens than do the fifty Democrats.
- The idea that the filibuster provides some kind of “bi-partisan balance” thus becomes ludicrous in light of the GOP’s inherent hyper-representation.
- In Arizona and elsewhere, absurd fake “recounts” have been staged to question Trump’s loss, with the primary purpose of sabotaging this and future elections.
- The denial of statehood for the District of Columbia disenfranchises more than 700,000 citizens – more than inhabit Vermont or Wyoming – denying the Democrats two Senate seats and a House seat, plus guaranteeing DC has no governor to call out the National Guard when the next fascist assault is launched at the Capitol.
- Trump Fascists have begun running for Secretary of State positions, which would allow them to degrade, manipulate, and steal upcoming elections.
- Trump Fascists are pushing for the ability of partisan thugs to intimidate voters and election officials without recourse in all federal, state, and local elections.
- Fascist legislatures are stripping powers from elected state and local election boards and giving them to gerrymandered legislatures meaning to guarantee future Republican victories no matter what the true vote count.
- The Omnibus FOR THE PEOPLE election reform bill has been stalled by the filibuster, denying the public the ability to rectify many of the worst abuses aimed at our democracy.
- The JOHN LEWIS Voting Rights Act has also been stalled by the filibuster, denying the Department of Justice the ability to counteract obvious disenfranchisement abuses on the state level.
- The power of money to derange our elections remains unchecked due to the Supreme Court’s Citizen United and other decisions overturning public attempts to limit the ability of rich corporations to buy what’s left of our democracy.
The collective danger of all the above – and there is more – cannot be overstated. It is clear that the American public’s desire for a diverse, tolerant, truly democratic system is shared by a majority of the nation.
It’s also clear that the danger of a truly fascist coup has never been greater.
To find out what you can do, join our Monday Grassroots Emergency Election Protection (GREEP) zoom calls at 5 p.m. Eastern and check out The Strip & Flip Disaster of America’s Stolen Elections by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman, now being read on the air by Thom Hartmann.
Remember that the election protection movement was scorned and ridiculed for years, before now becoming absolutely critical to the future of our nation.
Please join us!!!
Harvey Wasserman’s People’s Spiral of US History is at www.solartopia.org.