As we’re all aware, red states are dismantling the franchise to entrench white Republican minority rule. S1, the For the People Act bill to save democracy, could foil that plan, but it has to pass first. So, how to pass it?
As of now, it looks like the only way is for Democrats to go into a midterm that has been rigged at the state level to suppress Democratic votes and somehow defy history by being a party in power that manages to hold the House majority (now down to just two seats, I think), hold all current Senate seats and win at least two more Senate seats.
That’s a tall order, you say? I agree. But after reading Senator Manchin’s huffy, self-righteous and delusional WaPo op-ed here, it sure seems like he’s not going to budge on the filibuster, not even to secure American citizens’ most fundamental right:
The filibuster is a critical tool to protecting that input and our democratic form of government. That is why I have said it before and will say it again to remove any shred of doubt: There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster. The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.
Think about the recent history. In 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) led the charge to change Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster for Cabinet-level nominees and federal judges. I was one of only three Democratic senators to vote against this rule change. In 2017, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) proposed to lower the threshold to end debate on Supreme Court nominees to a simple majority. I voted against that change, too. Despite my votes, both rules changes were enacted and the filibuster was weakened, allowing the majority to more easily enact its agenda with little to no input from the minority.
Every time the Senate voted to weaken the filibuster in the past decade, the political dysfunction and gridlock have grown more severe. The political games playing out in the halls of Congress only fuel the hateful rhetoric and violence we see across our country right now. The truth is, my Democratic friends do not have all the answers and my Republican friends do not, either. This has always been the case.
Manchin isn’t too keen on using reconciliation to get around Republican obstructionism either:
I simply do not believe budget reconciliation should replace regular order in the Senate. How is that good for the future of this nation? Senate Democrats must avoid the temptation to abandon our Republican colleagues on important national issues. Republicans, however, have a responsibility to stop saying no, and participate in finding real compromise with Democrats.
So, don’t be getting any ideas about taking advantage of the parliamentarian’s recent ruling that Democrats can push through more than two bills via reconciliation before the midterms. As for voting rights? Manchin has a solution that probably did not occur to you: BIPARTISANSHIP!
There is also bipartisan support for voting reform and many of the initiatives outlined in the For the People Act. Our ultimate goal should be to restore bipartisan faith in our voting process by assuring all Americans that their votes will be counted, secured and protected. Efforts to expand voting hours and access, improve our election security and increase transparency in campaign finance and advertisement rules should and do have broad, bipartisan support and would quickly address the needs facing Americans today. Taking bipartisan action on voting reform would go a long way in restoring the American people’s faith in Congress and our ability to deliver results for them.
Yes, and monkeys flying out of my butt would go a long way in restoring my faith in flying monkeys and their ability to fly out of people’s butts, but that’s about as unlikely, IMO. It’s almost like Manchin doesn’t know Republicans have to suppress the vote to win elections because their ideas are unpopular, but of course he knows that. Is this just him posturing? Doesn’t sound like it.
Anyhoo, I’m not going to waste another second wondering about Manchin’s motives. The kindest thing I can say about him is that he’s better than either of my two U.S. senators. I had hoped the Senate filibuster-philes on our side would agree to a carve-out to address the red state power-grab that threatens our tottering democracy, but if I’m reading Manchin’s opinion correctly, that is now off the table.
Is that how you read Manchin’s piece too, or am I overreacting? Do you see any other way for the feds to protect voter rights, aside from an intervention by the courts that is then improbably upheld by the wingnut-dominated SCOTUS? Please talk me off the ledge or give me a hard shove.