Plenty of reasons are crucial-- from the GOP obstruction of raising the minimum wage to the inability to get past the conservative blockade of serious-- perhaps existential-- action on the Climate Crisis. But, yesterday, writing for Vanity Fair, Eric Lutz hit the be all and end all-- as a precursor to fascism, the Republicans are taking a sledgehammer to voting rights on a state level and Republicans in the Senate are preventing Democrats from stopping them. It's a shame Team Biden can't persuade the old fool in the Oval Office how important this is.
"Trump’s voter fraud lies," wrote Lutz, "are fueling efforts across the country to dramatically restrict access to the ballot. The GOP’s opposition to voting rights, says Democratic attorney Marc Elias, has become 'the central tenet of their party' [and]... it’s possible that democracy is now under even greater threat than it was before January 20. The transparent and ludicrous lies that Trump told, over and over, in his desperate campaign to overturn his loss to Joe Biden have now ossified into the official party line, with Republicans across the country attempting-- in some cases successfully-- to translate the MAGA propaganda into actual laws. The GOP has now put forth bills in 43 states that would dramatically restrict access to the ballot, according to a Brennan Center analysis; in places like Georgia, with Republican-controlled state governments, anti-democracy lawmakers are succeeding. And on Tuesday, the franchise will face perhaps its biggest test in decades when the conservative Supreme Court considers a pair of Arizona laws that could open the floodgates for even more racist voting restrictions."
Democrats, who have lost just one presidential popular vote since 1988 and represent far more Americans on Capitol Hill than their counterparts, are not powerless to protect democracy against attacks by a Republican party that has increasingly embraced Trumpian authoritarianism. They’ve introduced hundreds of their own bills in state legislatures seeking to expand the franchise, and are mobilizing behind a House bill that seeks to knock down barriers to the ballot. But the success or failure of these efforts will almost certainly depend on whether or not Democratic leaders, from the White House on down, fight for Americans’ rights with the same urgency that Trump and the Republicans are fighting to take them away...
Suppressing the votes of Black Americans and other minorities has long been a key part of the GOP’s election strategy. But their efforts have been even more audacious, bald-faced, and undemocratic in recent months: In swing states where Trump sought to overturn his narrow losses, Republican legislators are using his lies as a pretext for “election security” bills targeting mail-in voting and other measures that expand access to the ballot. In Wisconsin, the GOP has put forth a package that would force voters to show an ID, limit absentee balloting, and that could dampen early voting. Similar legislation is being considered in Pennsylvania. Democratic governors in those states mean the sweeping overhauls proposed by Republican-controlled legislatures probably won’t go far—for now, at least. But things are more concerning in Georgia, where the state House on Monday passed a massive, multi-pronged package of voting restrictions—including one measure scaling back Sunday voting, a direct attack on the “Souls to the Polls” initiative to increase Black turnout.
“‘Souls to the Polls’ eliminates barriers to voting that thousands of Black Georgians otherwise might face, such as transportation for the elderly or finding time during the workweek for others,” the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson wrote Monday. “Georgia Republicans want to put those barriers back up — and raise them even higher.”
The GOP’s suppression efforts have always targeted minorities—particularly the Black voters who make up the core of the Democratic base. But under Trump, a man utterly incapable of subtlety, the party has all but done away with pretense. “What I think was really obvious and really upsetting about the 2020 election,” the Brennan Center’s Myrna Perez told NPR last week, “was that there was very little attempt to hide the racialized nature.” There’s been little attempt, too, to mask how undemocratic some of these bills are, like the one an Arizona Republican introduced in January, which would essentially allow the state legislature to overrule voters and pick its own electors. “This initiative is so offensive,” Randy Perez, democracy director at the grassroots LUCHA Arizona, told CNN last week. “Such an affront to our democracy.”
...The stakes could not be higher, making HR1 more vital than ever. The For the People Act, introduced by Maryland Democrat John Sarbanes, includes a number of anti-corruption reforms, and would expand access to the franchise and restore the Voting Rights Act. The White House has endorsed it, citing the “unprecedented assault on our democracy, a never before seen effort to ignore, undermine, and undo the will of the people, and a newly aggressive attack on voting rights taking place right now all across the country,” and the Democratically-controlled House is poised to pass it. But the bill will run into a buzzsaw in the Senate, where Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are almost certain to filibuster the measure.
Biden is reluctant to end that filibuster. But at a certain point, failing to do so means failing to reckon with the the severity of the threat to democracy—and the particular peril the GOP’s attacks pose to the rights of Black Americans and other minorities. “The argument that preserving the filibuster is necessary because it’s an important tool in our Democracy falls apart when it’s clearer with every passing day that we won’t have a Democracy without Congress passing voting rights legislation,” the former Obama aide David Plouffe remarked Monday. Republicans are mounting a concerted, relentless attack on democracy. To defend against it, Democrats’ response must be proportional. And that means confronting the reality that Trump leaving office didn’t extinguish his Big Lie, but made it more powerful.
This afternoon, Paul Waldman devoted his Washington Post column to warning his readers that Republicans will do anything to stress the vote. The Courts will help them. He notes that the GOP is acting out of panic and that their efforts are "comprehensive... playing out in Congress, state legislatures and the Supreme Court. And like many things the GOP does, it’s a mixture of the ruthlessly shrewd and the stupidly misconceived. It’s no accident that the effort is coming to a head in Georgia and Arizona, two longtime Republican strongholds that are now in the midst of a political transition. In both, Republicans control state government. But Joe Biden won both by narrow margins, and after that election each state has two Democratic senators. To Republicans, this is proof that the system itself must be altered. Democrats simply cannot be allowed to achieve those kinds of gains."
So in Georgia, state Republicans are moving forward with a voter suppression effort so sweeping it almost defies the imagination. On Monday, the state House passed a bill with these extraordinary provisions, among others:
Limits Sunday voting to one Sunday in each county
Limits the use of ballot drop boxes
Requires absentee ballots to contain a driver’s license number, state ID number or copy of photo ID
Makes it illegal to give food or drinks to voters waiting in line to vote
You read that right: The bill would make it illegal to go to a polling place where voters are waiting in an hours-long line and give them water.
We don’t even need to pretend that there is some nonpartisan purpose behind any of these measures; they’re simply what Republicans think, at this moment, might prevent the kind of losses they’ve suffered recently. ...[Republicans'] hope is that the court will narrow the meaning of the relevant section of the VRA so far that you can barely see it, giving a green light to Republican legislatures across the country to employ every means they can think of to make it harder for people to vote.
This is how the Republican Party and conservative judges work together: The legislators come up with more and more voter suppression measures, then the Supreme Court ratifies them and clears a legal path for even more voter suppression.
This party has all but given up on persuading anyone that it’s right about taxes or health care or abortion or climate or anything else. Its highest priority is shutting down access to the ballot in hopes that it will help them win elections. It’s going to try everything possible to do this-- whether it works or not.