Hon. Bernie Sanders / US Senate
(November 30, 2021) — The Republican Party today is not only an increasingly reactionary party focusing on tax breaks for billionaires, denying the reality of climate change, working overtime to keep the cost of prescription drugs high and denying people the health care they need during the middle of a global pandemic, but it has also become an anti-democracy party doing all it can to make it harder for American citizens to vote and participate in the political process.
In 2020, unprecedented voter turnout in the presidential election and a surprising election result in Georgia threw the most dangerous president in American history out of office and gave Democrats control of the US Senate.
Was the Republican response to reassess how they could address the needs of working people and create a more popular set of ideas they could take to the voters? No, no it was not.
Was the Republican response to join Democrats in taking strong action to address the existential threat of climate change and make sure our planet will be habitable for future generations? No, no it was not.
Was the Republican response to start taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously so we can save lives and return to some sense of normalcy in the near future? No, no it was not.
Instead the cowardly Republican response in state legislatures throughout the country was to pass legislation denying voting rights to those who might vote against them — often poor people, people of color, young people and the disabled.
The cowardly Republican response in state legislatures throughout the country was to draw up extreme gerrymandered Congressional districts in ways they hope will give them control of the US House of Representatives.
The cowardly Republican response in state legislatures throughout the country was to redraw state legislative district maps so that they will retain their majorities long into the future.
Now, it should go without saying that in a functioning democracy the job of those we elect to office should be to make it easier for people to vote, not harder — regardless of whom they plan on voting for. That’s what a vibrant democracy is all about.
In a functioning democracy, elections should be about candidates and parties making their best case to constituents and letting the voters decide.
In a functioning democracy, the operating principle must be one person, one vote and the need for all of us to come together to determine the future of our country.
In a functioning democracy we do NOT win elections because we effectively suppress the vote of those who support other candidates or oppose our policies.
In a functioning democracy we do not cast doubt about the legitimacy of an election simply because we lost.
But, tragically, all of that is exactly what is occurring.
It is no exaggeration to say that we are at a crisis moment in our democracy and we do not have long to act. If Congress does not take action — and SOON — Republicans in a number of states that have passed anti-democratic legislation will get away with undermining American democracy. There will simply not be enough time to undo the damage they have caused.
Unbelievably, because of Trump’s almost total domination over the Republican Party, there is not one Republican in the US Senate (including many who know better) prepared to stand up and defend our democratic way of life against this movement toward authoritarianism. That is the sad reality.
Yet, despite all of the evidence, there are still a few Democrats in the Senate who continue to wishfully think that somehow, some way, Republicans will eventually see the light and will come forward in a bipartisan way to do the right thing. These Democrats just love the concept of “bipartisanship,” even if it means turning their backs on the future of American democracy.
Well, the sad reality is that these Democrats can wait, they can hope and they can pray but Mitch McConnell and his caucus are not coming forward to preserve voting rights in America. In fact, what is happening in Republican states throughout the country is just fine with them because it will make it easier for them to gain control over Congress.
No, the ONLY way we are going to save our democracy for this and future generations is if Democrats in the Senate have the courage to use their majority to make that happen. And that means voting to set aside the filibuster for voting rights legislation and pass a bill that ensures all citizens in this country have the ability to vote.
The good news is, that bill exists.
The US House of Representatives has already passed a comprehensive voting rights bill that would also reform our corrupt campaign finance system and end the unfair redistricting processes that result in extreme gerrymandered districts.
Imagine a country in which every person is automatically registered to vote when they turn 18.
Imagine a country in which every person who moves to a new state is automatically registered to vote as soon as they have a new postal address.
Imagine a country that puts an end to the discriminatory practice of purging voters of color, young people, and low-income Americans from voting rolls.
Imagine a country where Election Day is a federal holiday so that we can increase voters’ ability to participate.
Imagine a country in which early voting is an option for all who need the flexibility, and absentee ballots are available upon request with no tests or conditions.
Imagine a country where billionaires are unable to buy our candidates and elections.
In short, imagine a country where voters pick their elected officials, not one where the elected officials pick their voters.
Can we have that kind of robust democracy? Yes.
Will it happen if we keep the filibuster in place and require 60 votes to pass voting rights legislation? No, no it will not.
And that is why — today — with time running out to save our democracy, I am asking you to make your voice heard:
ACTION: Please sign my petition: tell the Senate to do away with the filibuster and the 60 vote rule and pass legislation that makes it easier for all of our people to vote, ends the influence of big money in politics, and restricts partisan gerrymandering.
Too many people have fought and died for the right to vote in this country. We must not fail them. We MUST protect and expand voting rights in the United States.
Nothing less than the future of American democracy is on the line.
Saving American Democracy Livestream
P.S. Tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m., I will be hosting a livestream presentation entitled “Saving American Democracy.” We will have some of the leading experts in the country — Senator Amy Klobuchar, Mother Jones journalist Ari Berman, New Georgia Project leader Nsé Ufot and The Nation columnist John Nichols discuss the current state of affairs and what we have to do in the immediate future. Please join us at live.berniesanders.com.