-by a friend of Howie's
You know exactly what's going to happen now-- after that horrendous anti-democracy party-line Supreme Court ruling yesterday: more state legislatures will feel even more empowered to exclude even more people from voting. As Elena Kagan wrote in her dissent, "Never has a statute done more to advance the nation’s highest ideals. And few laws are more vital in the current moment. Yet in the last decade, this court has treated no statute worse... [I]n recent months, state after state has taken up or enacted legislation erecting new barriers to voting... [Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act to] address a deep fault in our democracy-- the historical and continuing attempt to withhold from a race of citizens their share of influence on the political process... That law, of all laws, deserves the sweep and power Congress gave it. That law, of all laws, should not be diminished by the Court."
Atlantic columnist Ron Brownstein saw that exact set of problems when he sat down this morning to write Democrats Have One Option Left. "Today’s Supreme Court decision further weakening the Voting Rights Act," he began, "affirmed that the only way Democrats can reverse the wave of restrictive voting laws in GOP-controlled states is to pass new federal voting rights by curtailing the Senate filibuster. Congressional action has long seemed the only realistic lever for Democrats to resist red states’ surge of voter-suppression laws, which are passing... on an almost entirely party-line basis. In the state legislatures, Democrats lack the votes to stop these laws. And while the John Roberts–led Supreme Court-- which opened the door to these restrictions by eviscerating another section of the Voting Rights Act in his 2013 Shelby County decision-- always seemed unlikely to restrain the Republican-controlled states, today’s ruling from the six GOP-appointed justices eliminated any doubt."
While the ruling signals long odds for the Justice Department’s effort to challenge those laws (starting with Georgia’s) in court, civil- and voting-rights advocates might welcome the clarity the decision provides. It makes plain that if Congress doesn’t establish new federal standards, the nation is headed toward a two-tier voting system, with red states imposing ever-tightening restrictions that especially burden Democratic-leaning constituencies-- young, minority, and lower-income voters.
It’s no coincidence that red states are imposing these restrictions precisely as Millennials and Gen Zers, who represent the most racially diverse generations in American history, are rapidly increasing their share of the total vote, as I wrote earlier today. The rise of those younger generations especially threatens the GOP hold on Sun Belt states such as Georgia, Texas, and Arizona, which Republicans now control through their dominance of older and non-urban white voters; in that way, the voting restrictions Republicans are enacting amount to stacking sandbags against a rising tide of demographic change.
After a Republican filibuster blocked their sweeping voting-rights bill, Senate Democrats are working to unify behind a more limited plan—and to persuade holdout Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (and perhaps others) to change the filibuster rules to pass it. Following today’s decision, the demands from civil-rights groups on Senate Democrats and Biden to change the rules will grow even more intense.
“Our elected leaders need to wake up and start acting like the house is on fire-- because it is, and this ruling pours more gasoline on the flames,” Nsé Ufot, the CEO of the New Georgia Project, said today in a statement that was echoed widely by other groups. “Black and Brown communities gave Democrats federal power to protect the vote and passing bills like the For the People Act is what we both expect and deserve.”
With more measured (though no less passionate) language, the fierce dissent from Justice Elena Kagan and the other Democratic-appointed justices seemed to be sending the same message. They obviously never endorsed any legislation, but their tone reminded me of the pleas to the Senate majority (particularly Manchin and Sinema) from Democratic legislators in the states passing these restrictive laws. We’ve done all we can here, the justices seemed to be saying: Now it’s up to Congress whether to protect democracy at what Kagan called “a perilous moment for the Nation’s commitment to equal citizenship.”
This may sound ghoulish, but maybe Mother Nature's going to take care of this for us. There are about 1,000 counties in the U.S. with less than a 30% vaccination rate. These are Trump counties and COVID is spiking in many of them, as are hospitalizations. And you know what comes after spiking cases and increased hospitalizations, right? Dead Trump voters. And they're not spreading their contagion to normal people, just to other Trump voters who are refusing to be vaccinated. It's kind of a mass suicide on the political right. Some might hope it increases in strength and velocity. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky: "[L]ooking state by state and county by county, it is clear that communities where people remain unvaccinated are communities that remain vulnerable. We expect to see increased transmission in these communities unless we can vaccinate more people." Hey, if they don't want it and they start yelling about liberty... what are you gonna do. Imagine an America with a few million fewer fascist-oriented, Fox-addicted Republicans... an end of every societal problem.
"The U.S. is currently averaging more than 12,000 new cases per day, a 10 percent increase from the previous week." And, as every day, for months now, yestreday saw the most new cases in Florida and Texas, courtesy of freedom-lovin' governors DeSantis and Abbott. Missouri has the worst surge rate in America. Trump counties in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri are really going through some tough self-inflicted misery. But even in blue states, the counties that are suffering are the counties moron-counties, filled with anti-vaxxer Trump voters. California's top hot spot is Lassen County, where Trump beat Biden 74.8% to 23.4%. They can get the vaccine if they want it; they just don't want it-- Darwinism. Same in Illinois-- nice blue state, but Brown County is having a self-inflicted tough time right now, having voted 69.1% to 28.1% for Señor Trumpanzee. Another wonderful, sane Blue state-- Colorado-- has two counties spiking out of control, Moffat (80.7% Trump) and Mesa (62.8% Trump). And you know what, Mesa and Moffat counties gave QAnon sociopath Lauren Boebert most of her margin of victory. So...