Senate Democrats Do Not Understand the Urgency of the Moment

I’ve made this point before, but it bears some repetition (boldface mine):

Suffice it to say, a concerted right-wing effort really is under way to limit popular democracy and suppress votes. So what are Democrats doing about it? In a legislative sense at least, a cogent and comprehensive response is already in the works, in the form of the two bills cited by Biden in his congressional address. If realized, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and H.R. 1 (also known as the For the People Act) would constitute the most sweeping acts of democratic reform undertaken in decades. The latter alone would establish automatic national voter registration, independent redistricting commissions for House seats to prevent gerrymandering, expanded mail-in voting, and a number of new measures to reduce the overbearing influence of organized money

The single greatest obstacle, though, has to do with the rules governing the Senate, and whether Democrats are ultimately willing to match their language of urgency with a strategy even remotely proportional to it. Due to the chamber’s filibuster rules, most legislation requires 60 votes to pass—an impediment that effectively empowers lawmakers representing only a tiny sliver of the electorate to block policies they dislike at will, including those designed to make American democracy fairer and more inclusive. (Especially frustrating, as the voting-rights expert Ari Berman has pointed out, is that Republican-controlled legislatures face no such supermajority requirement when passing legislation designed to restrict the vote—a kind of “asymmetric warfare” in which those working to preserve minority rule have a majoritarian advantage.)

…Liberal lawmakers cannot, one the one hand, contend that a deliberate effort is under way to deprive citizens of the franchise while, on the other hand, preserving an archaic legislative convention specifically designed to limit the power of representative democracy. If Democrats plan to match their rhetoric with action, they must train public attention not only on the existential problem of the Republican assault on voting, but also on the need to eliminate the main obstacle to countering that assault. This means doing whatever it takes to bring holdout senators onside, in private or in public.

It’s not clear how to bring Manchin and Sinema on board (though I have some ideas), but if Democrats don’t do this, they’re sunk in 2022 and 2024. Republicans aren’t passing voter restriction legislation as symbolism, they mean to use it. Meanwhile, the left, construed broadly, has gone chasing after everything but the preservation of the one thing that allows effective non-violent change.

This will not end well, I fear.

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1 Response to Senate Democrats Do Not Understand the Urgency of the Moment

  1. No name says:

    Has it occurred to anyone that they simply don’t care? This is like the movie Groundhog Day. We wake up to “I’ve Got You Babe” every.single.day. The Democrats are either stupid are too worried about losing their power base with big money. No one is this stupid for this long.

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