American democracy is on the ropes. In state after state, Republican legislatures are making it more difficult to vote. At the same time, they are making it easier to manipulate election results in their party’s favor. Gaining power at any cost is their only goal.
As distressing as this is, what infuriates me even more is the Democrats inability to effectively thwart these debilitating attacks on our democracy. In effect, like Nero, they are “fiddling while Rome burns.”
Time is running out. This fall all 50 states will begin drawing the district boundaries for next year’s Congressional elections based on the 2020 census. Since Republicans control more state legislatures than Democrats do, they very well may be able to gerrymander enough House of Representative districts to win back the majority in Congress in the 2022 elections. At which point, House Republicans will be able to obstruct President Biden’s entire agenda.
In fact, Senate Republicans are doing just that right now. In May they filibustered the Democrats’ bill to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Republicans must have feared that discovering all the facts regarding the attack would damage them politically. Why else would they not want to learn the whole truth about the insurrection that threatened their own lives?
That same fear controls just about everything the GOP does today. Senate Republicans are blocking the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act because they are afraid that making it easier for people to vote will hurt their chances of winning elections. It’s that simple. They don’t care about Americans’ right to vote.
The Republican Party’s only concern is regaining power. Here’s how Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX) put it:
“For the next 18 months, our job is to do everything we can to slow all of that down to get to December of 2022 and then get in here and lead…18 more months of chaos and the inability to get stuff done. That’s what we want.”
And that puts voting rights and the future of American democracy squarely in the Democrats’ court. While most Congressional Democrats want to limit or eliminate the Republicans ability to filibuster, there are a few standing in the way, namely Sens. Manchin and Sinema. According to Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD), one of the lead sponsors of the House version of the voting-rights bill, greater public pressure will raise the stakes on these Democratic senators:
“What the public pressure is doing is conveying the historical dimension of this…I think, ultimately, that’s what is going to land this plane—that people like Senator Sinema, Senator Manchin, and others are going to feel the pull and push of history here. They are going to begin to put it in that context, and no member of the Democratic caucus is going to want to be on the wrong side of this historic opportunity to repair and restore our democracy at a moment of great challenge.”
So, let’s all do our part. On Sunday, July 11 at 11 am, attend the rally to protect our voting rights at 106 S. Federal Place, east of the main post office in Santa Fe.
Join Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez, NM Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, and many others. Demand the right to vote for all Americans.
Bruce Berlin, J.D.
A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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