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Raphael Warnock: "We're Going To Keep On Knocking On That Door"

Do you get furious when you see Republican state legislatures moving forward with their plans to disenfranchise minority voters? I do; it makes my blood boil-- and not just against Republicans, but also against Democratic wimps too scared to back the only kind of meaningful filibuster reform that will stop this in its tracks. Conservative Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party opposing filibuster reform-- namely Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema-- and possibly Jon Tester, Dianne Feinstein and some of the others. Obama told Democrats they should do it-- even kill the filibuster entirely to protect voting rights, especially since its been used continuously to block civil rights legislation.

Earlier in the month Rev.Raphael Warnock (D-GA) gave his maiden floor speech and used the occasion to express the absolute importance of stopping the disenfranchisement in his state, Arizona, Iowa and others. "It is a contradiction," he said, "to say we must protect minority rights in the Senate while refusing to protect minority rights in the society. Colleagues, no Senate rule should overrule the integrity of the democracy and we must find a way to pass voting rights whether we get rid of the filibuster or not." Sunday on State of the Union, he re-emphasized his #1 priority. He told Dana Bash that "We have got to work on the infrastructure of our country, our roads and our bridges, and we have got to work on the infrastructure of our democracy. After all, the only reason we're able to get anything done, have the prospects of getting more done this Congress, is because people were able to show up and express their voices in their democracy."

He also pointed out that "We wouldn't have passed the American Rescue Plan had the people of Georgia not stood up in the way that they did, historic turnout. And, as a result of that, we were able to pass a historic piece of legislation, shots in people's arms, checks in their pockets… And so we got to do both of those things... The filibuster, at the end of the day, is about minority rights in the Senate. How are you going to insist on protecting minority rights in the Senate, while refusing to protect minority rights in the society? ... I think that we have to pass voting rights no matter what,” he said. “This is an assault on the covenant that we have with one another as an American people. And it's my job to protect it."

Former Orlando Congressman Alan Grayson may run for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by-- wasted by-- Marco Rubio. If you're at all familiar with Grayson's record in Congress, you can imagine who pissed off this voter suppression garbage makes him. Last night I asked him. I told me that "The Georgia Legislature, and its Governor, committed a mugging, in broad daylight. They didn’t grab a purse, or steal a wallet. No, they stole thousand and thousands of votes. The GOP now bears an ugly tattoo that it can never, ever wash away. The GOP is the anti-voting party and, therefore, it is the anti-voter party. VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!"

Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd is running for one of Maryland's two U.S.Senate seats. He's the youngest Black mayor in Maryland, a state that has never elected a black senator. 50% of Marylanders are white and 30% are Black. My guess is that those numbers are nearly reversed when you're talking about registered Democrats. The state would do well to elect Byrd their first Black senator. Yesterday he told me he sees the issue of voter suppression much the way Rev. Warnock does. "The right to vote helps to preserve other rights and is part of the foundation for many other key policy priorities related to America's recovery from the pandemic, including things like infrastructure. So I agree with Sen. Warnock that the Republicans are waging war on American democracy by attacking voting rights, and I agree with him that the filibuster, which is ostensibly about protecting minority rights in the U.S. Senate, actually undermines minority rights in the U.S.A., because, with the filibuster, voting rights are that much more vulnerable. With the filibuster, national voting rights legislation is that much more elusive, and people of color in certain states are that much more likely to have their votes suppressed. Georgia's new law is a prime example of this, because the state's new law makes it more difficult for people to cast absentee or provisional ballots, limits drop boxes, undermines local election officials in places like Atlanta, criminalizes the mere act of providing people with food and water while they wait in voting lines, and suppresses voter turnout in runoff elections. But we can't just think about voter suppression as an issue that needs to be addressed in Georgia. It's a national issue. While Georgia's new law is the one getting all the attention on the Sunday shows, Georgia is not the only place that has been trying to limit voting. Such voting restrictions have also been implemented and/or proposed in several other states, including Iowa, Arizona, Florida, and Texas. That said, with or without the filibuster, Congress has to pass the For the People Act. The For the People Act would not only combat such state voting rights restrictions and expand voting rights; the bill would also help improve government ethics and reform campaign finance as well."

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