Charles M. Blow in the New York Times on the importance of passing the voting rights bill.
Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, has indicated that he plans to schedule a vote for Wednesday to open debate on a new voting rights bill, the Freedom to Vote Act.
The bill would set national standards for early voting, expand voting by mail, allow the use of more forms of voter identification, make Election Day a federal holiday and institute measures to counter voter suppression tactics. It would also automate voter registration, force states to give voters the option to register on Election Day and offer safeguards against voter purges. Finally, it would overhaul portions of the campaign finance system, prohibit partisan gerrymandering and prevent the politicized removal of election officials, among other changes.
This is a compromise bill, but it is still a good bill that would go a long way toward protecting the country’s electoral system and preventing Republicans around the country from instituting a new electoral Jim Crow.
Even if all 50 Democrats in the Senate support the bill, they still need ten Republicans to back it. With the Trump mindset that more people voting is bad for the GOP, the chances are that they will not find those ten votes. (Historic note: the last time the voting rights act was up for renewal, it passed 98-0.)
Donald Trump and the Republican officials enthralled and entranced by him have elevated the lie of election fraud to such a degree that many Republican voters consider it one of their top priorities, which in turn gives Republican officials cover to unleash their oppression.
At an Iowa rally last week, Trump said of his election lie: “And I’m telling you, the single biggest issue, as bad as the border is, it’s horrible, horrible what they’re doing. They’re destroying our country. As bad as that is, the single biggest issue, the issue that gets the most, the most pull, the most respect, the biggest cheers is talking about the election fraud of 2020 presidential election. Nobody’s ever seen anything like it.”
That last line may well be true.
For Democrats, this voting rights bill is a top priority, but from now until something is passed, it should be the only priority. In another time, I would think that the infrastructure and reconciliation bills should take precedence. It’s impossible to argue that we don’t need those things. It is also impossible to argue that many of the provisions would not disproportionately benefit poor people and Black and Hispanic people.
But even if you have glistening infrastructure in a fascist state, you are still in a fascist state. If you get two years of community college free in a fascist state, you are still in a fascist state. If more people get broadband access, more people will be able to search for what it means to live in a fascist state.
Protecting ballot access is the only thing that matters right now.
It may be the last thing that matters.