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Republicans Are Betting They Can Filibuster A Demographic Shift Thanks To Manchin & Sinema



Texas is following Georgia into an aggressive legislative New Jim Crow disenfranchisement hole. Texas' House Democratic leader called the Texas push "part of a nationwide Republican-led effort to suppress the vote. Republicans know that the way for them to extend their power and to continue to hold power at the state and federal level is to change the rules and make it harder for people of color primarily, and other people, to participate in the electoral process."


This morning, NY Times columnist Thomas Edsall noted that in 1995, 64.8% of public school students were white and in 2014 that figure dropped below half for the first time to 49.5%. By 2029 it will be 43.8%. A couple of decades after that, whites will no longer be a majority of voters, with Hispanics and Asian-Americans "driving the ascendance of America’s minority population." He wrote that "Pew Research estimates that over the 50 year period from 2015 to 2065, the non-Hispanic white share of the population will drop from 62 to 46 percent, while the Hispanic share will grow from 18 to 24 percent and the Asian-American share from 6 to 14 percent. The Black share will go from 12 to 13 percent... [T]he white minority prediction has become a dominant political narrative-- particularly insofar as Republicans exploit this characterization-- and in the process this framing has become a central element in the worldview of many conservative whites."

And here's the problem. "White Americans considering a future in which the white population has declined to less than 50 percent of the national population are more likely to perceive that the societal status of their racial group-- in terms of resources or as the “prototypical” American-- is under threat, which in turn leads to stronger identification as white, the expression of more negative racial attitudes and emotions, greater opposition to diversity, and greater endorsement of conservative political ideology, political parties, and candidates... A large number of white people already believe that they suffer higher levels of discrimination than Black people and other minorities do."


There are good, some would say persuasive, arguments for both the elimination of the filibuster and for enactment of the voting rights legislation currently before the Senate.
Jessica Bulman-Pozen and David Pozen, of Columbia Law School, developed an apt description of the contemporary use of the filibuster in their 2015 law review article “Uncivil Obedience,” arguing that while civil disobedience “violates the law in a bid to highlight its illegitimacy and motivate reform,” there is a “less heralded form of social action that involves nearly the opposite approach.” Dissenters, they write, may attempt “to disrupt legal regimes through hyperbolic, literalistic, or otherwise unanticipated adherence to their formal rules,” i.e., through uncivil obedience.
In an email, Jessica Bulman-Pozen wrote:
the filibuster is the most potent tool of obstruction. Today’s filibuster threatens American democracy, but its adherents hold themselves out as defenders of the rules.
Those making use of the filibuster to delay or kill legislation “cast themselves as meticulous law-followers while they subvert representative democracy.”
Alexander Theodoridis, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, expanded on the argument that polarization has weaponized the filibuster:
Increasingly, voters and elites find those on the other side repugnant and not worthy of trust. Any win for “them” is tantamount to a loss for “us.”
In the case of the voting rights bill, Theodoridis argued,
the prospect of the filibuster thwarting efforts to reduce democratic backsliding amounts to the use of a minoritarian legislative tactic to enable a minoritarian electoral strategy.
Along parallel lines, Nate Persily, a law professor at Stanford, emailed his view that
The next two years may be the last chance for the Democrats (and the country) to pass significant election reform. The filibuster stands in the way. Declaring that only voting policy that can attract 60 votes should be passed, is tantamount to saying that no voting reform should be passed.
Inaction by the federal government “will necessarily lead to greater divergence among the states” Persily continued:
One set of states will codify the accommodations that were made to deal with the pandemic and to make voting more accessible. Another set of states will make voting more difficult in the name of election integrity but in service to the Big Lie that the 2020 election was marred by fraud.


©2000 by Howie Klein. Leading The Progressive Fight Online Since 2000

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