Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. If we do not protect this sacred right, then our vote – our voice – on issues ranging from climate change and criminal justice reform to everything else will not be heard. It is not hyperbolic to say that this current battle against GOP efforts to suppress the vote may be the last fight for our republic.
Alarmingly, however, the GOP is winning its war against our democracy. Since January, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, legislatures in Republican-controlled states have enacted 22 new laws
to make voting more difficult. Texas Republicans are currently pushing for a sweeping voter suppression measure that will make it Stronger
for citizens to vote despite a Texas election official testifying that the 2020 election was “smooth and secure
. “What is even more alarming is that some of these new laws could To allow
State representatives of the GOP to quash the will of the people by facilitating the annulment of election results.
What is missing from the Democrats’ discussion about protecting our democracy is what Martin Luther King Jr. called
“the fierce urgency of now.” In fact, this was precisely the point made by a group of civil rights leaders who meet
with President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris last week to stress that time is running out to protect our democracy.
One of the participants, Sherrilyn Ifill, President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, declared
afterwards, “We stressed to the president that we were back to the wall,” adding: “Now is the time. There is no more time.”
Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, who also attended the meeting, warned
that we cannot “leave no stone unturned to save American democracy”, given that there is an effort on the part of the right to impose “American apartheid”. Ifill noted that she and others at the meeting implored Biden to “use his voice, use his influence, use his power” to push for federal law to save our democracy.
Former 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, a leader in the fight against Texas GOP efforts to enact voter suppression legislation, Express
that same sentiment on my SiriusXM show last week. O’Rourke warned that while Republicans are “focused on everything in their system” on passing laws that threaten our democracy, Democrats are not fighting it “with the same urgency or the same power that the situation demands. really “.
Biden has repeatedly sworn
to make a national speech on voting rights, telling reporters last week that he would “hit the road on this issue.” Great, but two things. First, it’s time to make this speech. Second, Biden can’t do it alone. It will take Democrats in Congress to help him.
Democrats in Congress must sound the alarm bells in the media by delivering a unified message with Biden and members of Congress flooding the airwaves. Yes, I know Democrats aren’t always the best at sending messages, but in this case the message is both urgent and simple: “Save our democracy!
House Democrats in March made past
the vast “For The People Act” which protects voting rights in many ways – but it has since languished in the Senate. Even the voting rights compromise
proposed by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin to win bipartisan support without losing support from Progressive Democrats is unlikely to pass the Senate because filibuster means he needs the support of 10 Republican senators.
My hope is that if the airwaves are filled with Democrats waving red flags on the GOP’s anti-American war on vote
, it will increase pressure on Democratic senators to carve out an exemption for filibustering voting rights bills. (This is the so-called “nuclear” option which can be deployed by a simple majority rather than a two-thirds majority necessary
for a broader change in Senate rules.)
Democrats in Congress should also play hard by threatening to withhold infrastructure funds from any state that imposes laws that make voting more difficult. As a reminder, the United States Supreme Court in the 1980s confirmed
Congress is withholding federal funds for freeways if states do not raise the age of drinking to 21.
Martin Luther King’s famous “fierce emergency of the moment” line has been monitoring
by the words, “There is such a thing as being too late.” This is the danger we face today when it comes to our democracy. If the Democrats, while controlling the White House and Congress, do not immediately use all available means to save us from the authoritarian trajectory of the GOP, we may never have the opportunity again.