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Democrats Are Fighting To Hold Onto Democracy-- Where's Joe Biden?

Reminder: Biden Is Jim Clyburn's Fault

"Bully Pulpit" by Nancy Ohanian

Last last week, Pew released some very ominous data about the state of American democracy. Although a majority agrees that voting is "a fundamental right for every adult U.S. citizen and should not be restricted in any way," another 42% thinks that "voting is a privilege that comes with responsibilities and can be limited if adult U.S. citizens don’t meet some requirements." Democrats overwhelmingly agree that voting is a right and Republicans overwhelmingly agree that it is not. In other words, one party is hostile to democracy itself.

The pollsters added that "Although majorities of Republicans-- across age groups-- view voting as a privilege with responsibilities that can be limited, younger Republicans and GOP leaners are more likely than older Republicans to say that voting is a fundamental right for every U.S. adult citizen: 44% of Republicans and Republican leaners under 30 say it is a fundamental right, compared with 37% of those ages 30 to 49, 29% of those 50 to 64 and just 22% of those 65 and older."

In one part of my brain I would agree with these old Republicans. Fascists and other groups hostile to democracy shouldn't be allowed to vote. Anyone stupid enough to have voted for Trump in 2020 should never be allowed near a ballot box again. But in the other 99% of my brain, I know that that is a stupid idea that I shouldn't even be saying out loud-- just a kind of guilty pleasure to think about.

In this morning's NY Times, Katie Rogers and Nick Corasaniti noted that enthusiasm for democracy and voting rights is chipping away at Biden's support. His conservatism is more and more showing for those who have missed it since the early 1970s. Rogers and Corasaniti wrote that Biden "is increasingly at odds with leaders of the voting rights movement, who see a contrast between his soaring language and his willingness to push Congress to pass federal legislation." In other words, idealistic grassroots Democrats are starting to confront the fact that Biden is full of shit. On Thursday, in a polite but pointed letter from 150 grassroots organizations, Biden was urged to use that soapbox that comes with the presidency "to push for two expansive federal voting rights bills that would combat a Republican wave of balloting restrictions."

Bully Pulpit 4" by Nancy Ohanian

Biden and these groups are increasingly in disagreement about how to pass what Biden's speech-writer called the "most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War," a reference to the GOP dismantling voting rights for minorities on the state level. Biden seems to think keeping the Jim Crow filibuster in place is more important that passing that test. "Voting rights groups say that Biden is not expending sufficient political capital or using the full force of his bully pulpit to persuade Congress. They point to the contrast between his soaring language-- 'Jim Crow on steroids,' he has called the G.O.P. voting laws-- and his opposition to abolishing the Senate filibuster. 'As you noted in your speech, our democracy is in peril,' the groups said in their letter. 'We certainly cannot allow an arcane Senate procedural rule to derail efforts that a majority of Americans support.' Ultimately, the advocates fear that the Biden administration-- currently focused on a bipartisan infrastructure deal and an ambitious spending proposal-- has largely accepted the Republican restrictions as baked in, and is now dedicating more of its effort to juicing Democratic turnout."

Writing for The Guardian this morning, Robert Reich, asked >Why isn’t Joe Biden doing all he can to protect American democracy? His answer to his own question involves how "both parties are beholden to an anti-democratic coalition [that] is stopping real change." After all, as Alan Grayson noted here on Friday, "We can have the filibuster, or we can have democracy, but we can’t have both. We can have the filibuster, or we can have progress, but we can’t have both."

Reich warned that "Some progressives have suggested a carve-out to the filibuster solely for voting rights. This might constrain the white supremacists but would do nothing to protect American democracy from the wealth supremacists. If democracy is to be preserved, both parts of the anti-democracy coalition must be stopped."

Dorothy Reik, a popular Democratic Party official in Los Angeles, told her followers today that she's "happy to answer Robert Reich's question. Biden doesn't support even a carve out of the filibuster for voting rights because he never ever intended to pass voting rights AND/OR the Green New Deal infrastructure bill. He lied to you. He lied to me too-- but I always knew he was lying. You can't teach an old pol new tricks! That is what he meant when he said ending the filibuster would cause "chaos"-- like everyone voting and the Green New Deal! And maybe the election of more Nina Turners!!! Don't listen to Clyburn either-- he wants HIS Black voters to vote-- not ours! "

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