The Covid Relief Bill is a Great Accomplishment. Voter Protection is at Least as Important
Well Done, on Several Counts
The COVID relief legislation was a master class in legislation and political management. Many of us were concerned that Biden, so desirous of bipartisan results, would delay and weaken the package dramatically. Worse, there was fear that he would have nothing to show for that gift. We have been to this dance before.
We need not have worried. He never gave up on bipartisanship, but he did not become a hostage to it. When it was obvious that Republican so-called leaders had no interest in supporting anything and had no substantive inputs to offer, Biden/Pelosi/Schumer drove on and got the job done. The final legislation lost some highly desirable elements, but it stands as pretty damn impressive.
Many long-time legislators said it was the most important and sweeping thing they had voted on in their entire careers. All the while, the administration engaged the public and local leaders on multiple fronts. All this, while obtaining remarkable results on the vaccination effort nationally; the number of people lining up for their Fauci Owie grows daily (sounds better than a shot, doesn’t it?)
This is what competence and compassion look like up close. Almost forgot what that looked like, hadn’t we? Time now for The Next Big Thing
Voting Rights and Voter Protection: HR 1 and SR 1
It is no coincidence, nor is it just window dressing, that the voting rights/protection legislation now being teed up are known as House Resolution 1 and Senate Resolution 1. These titles reflect how important this topic is for us all.
The most dangerous people in the world are those who feel they have nothing to lose and no legitimate way to fight injustice. A number of those who assaulted the US Capitol on January 6 were in such a state of mind. If a significant part of our population becomes convinced elections make no difference, we are lost. HR1/SR1 are designed to ensure that does not happen. Citizens in a democracy need to know their votes count. Who would oppose that? Read on
There is No Pretense on the Republican Game Plan or Intent
The Republican party at national and state levels have made it clear they oppose such health in a democracy. Look at the speeches and the slew of legislation being developed at all levels. The cries of assuring secure elections is completely bogus, and they all know it.
How do the following make for “secure elections?”
- Eliminating automatic registration to vote or registration at DMV
- Reducing the days available for early voting
- Reducing the hours of early voting days
- Cutting polling places
- Prohibiting Sunday voting
- Making it hard or impossible to vote by mail
- Making it a crime to provide food or water to people in long voting lines (Yes, you read that right. That is a real thing)
- Prohibiting ballot drop off sites
The Republicans, including at their most recent argument at the Supreme Court, have made it fully clear they have no interest in securing the vote or fostering democracy. The goal is quite simply to restrict voting as much as possible, focused on minorities and places where they tend to vote Democrat.
It is the most shameless political scheme I have seen in many, many years. HR1/SR1 are the cure. They are worth everything it takes to pass them into law, without delay. Failing to do so makes it likely our democracy is mortally wounded.
Now That We Have an Attorney General
Two more tools are available for this epic fight.
One, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division can actually begin doing its job again. That includes aggressively striking out against such abuses by investigations, law suites, and other judicial actions, including charging of abuse of power and voter suppression.
Two, ramp up in a major way the confirmation of federal judges. Fill every vacancy as quickly as possible with quality nominees. Look at expanding the number of federal judgeships. Add to the number of positions and fill them now. These people could be trying cases on voter access and protection soon. Let’s ensure quality judges are on hand to do the work that must be done.
A Political Footnote
Everything discussed here is true and important for all the right reason. This is about securing America’s democracy, and driving a stake into long histories of voter suppression, gerrymandering, and racism in elections.
But there is a political element as well. In a fair and open scenario as described in HR1/SR1, Democrats do well. Goals they stand for become national policy and law. Without this legislation, the worst of political distortion will become immovable. We would be on the way to becoming a nation with nothing to lose, with no political hope.
Pass HR1/SR1 at all costs. Period
A Footnote: Was This Blog Quoted in the Washington Post?
I wanted to share with you an amusing little footnote. I have mentioned before that every so often I will write a blog a few days early and file it for later publication. More than a couple of times, I open a newspaper and find what looks a LOT like my blog – but its someone else’s column. Time to pull mine back out of the file and rewrite. Don’t want to look like a plagiarist.
On Tuesday of this week, I published a blog about redefining bipartisanship. It is a subject I have given a lot of thought to, and one I think important for the next few years. On Wednesday, I opened a national newspaper and read a column that looked almost like a copy of my blog. Maybe I have a new reader I did not know about! Maybe great minds think alike! Hey, I would be happy with either conclusion.
Have a good weekend. See you next week. We have some things to discuss.
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