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Am I the only one…

… who is fascinated by the way Republicans are frrrrreaking out over HR1?

They have just as good a chance of winning with a fair election free of interference as Democrats. All they have to do is propose policies that will actually improve the country and the lives of the people who live here. Should be a piece of cake.

Jeez, they act like their most effective propaganda mouthpiece just died and their leader won’t be able to campaign from prison.

With All His Other Tasks, President Biden Has to Somehow Save Voting Rights

I read a disturbing article yesterday, not that it said anything I hadn’t realized. It is from Ronald Brownstein, writing in The Atlantic; and the article, not behind a paywall, is titled, “Democrats need HR 1 and the new VRA to protect voting rights.’

Brownstein is probably the best political writer in the country. I well remember so many great articles he wrote for the LA Times for decades. When he writes something, it is worth paying attention to. I will not discuss his article at length, the essence of it is that the Republican are waging an all-out war on voting rights in this country. More than a few people say that it is the biggest assault on those rights since the Jim Crow laws. And the really scary thing is that they are intended not only to win the next elections, but to cement a permanent Republican majority which in unremoveable, because the voting laws cannot be changed if they forever keep Democrats out of power to change them.

We know that these various bills do everything but state, “Only Republicans can vote.” They wouldn’t need to go quite that far, all they need is to take away 10% of the Democratic vote in key states, and they can’t lose. The bills cut voting hours, limit mail-in voting, make people keep re-registering, impose rigid signature verification. They do everything but re-institute the poll tax, the grandfather clause, and the literacy tests, which were the three-cornered foundations of White supremacy in the post-Reconstruction South.

The Supreme Court just heard a case on an Arizona bill, which the Republican counsel essentially said that suppressing the Black vote was necessary to help Republicans win. Blatantly admitting that will not hurt them; the case will go 6-3, or maybe there is a very small chance of 5-4, for the Republican voting suppression side. That is the most important endgame of the Republican court-stacking; from getting GW Bush elected over Gore; to blocking Garland and getting Gorsuch instead; from paying off Kavanaugh’s debts and ramming him through; to getting Barrett in a few weeks before the election. Those events were all awful for many reasons, but the most important was that it was part of the plan of the Republican Party to guarantee control of the United States government in perpetuity. Now is when they expect it to pay off.

The “Big Lie” about the election is part of that. The term “election integrity” is another Orwellian phrase they have concocted to gain public support, and to rationalize this assault. The Republican-controlled state legislatures have already introduced 156 bills to suppress the vote. They revel in this, it is their sustenance. Power, power, power without end.

So what can be done about this, before it is too late? People credulously voted in all these Republicans when Obama was president, in 2010 and 2014, and not enough of them can be dislodged in the state legislatures. And, now it may too late, as once these bills go through, and are either signed by a Republican governor; or vetoed by a Democratic governor and then brought to the Supreme Court to be validated, they will control the results in 2022, and inevitably give the Republicans control of the House and Senate; and then more gerrymandering, which the Roberts Court has already said they will not touch, so more power, and more laws, and so on. One can easily imagine how this would play out.

But there is the House Bill, HR1,which if it became law, could fix most of this–unless the Supreme Court declared the bill unconstitutional,in the same way that the Court of the early 1930’s invalidated FDR’s New Deal legislation. This bill will pass the House. But in the Senate, there is the problem of getting 50 votes for it, which it is likely that they will get with an actual vote. But how do we stop the Republican filibuster, the timeworn tool of the Southern Democrats and then the Radical Right, to stop progressive legislation? The only way is to get rid of the filibuster, but that would take sufficient votes. Democratic Senators Manchin and Sinema have expressed opposition to getting rid of the filibuster, the result of which would ironically likely knock both of them out of the Senate, plus guarantee a permanent Democratic minority in that body. This seems like a completely ridiculous plan of action; can anyone convince them otherwise, in time?

Another suggestion is to get rid of the filibuster just for this bill, keeping it for other ones. I don’t think this would work, because it would essentially allow a party to do it for any bill if they had a majority, but it would fall under Senate Rules, so maybe. And perhaps there is some chance that those two Democratic senators would vote for that, and that the Supreme Court would not disqualify it? Then there is adding Court seats, but they would filibuster that, too. Democrats in the Senate, all of them, must understand that when the Republicans have control, they tyrannically impose it. Trying to keep Senate rules that help them when they are out of power, is utterly foolish and futile.

I do not like having to worry about these things, not when we thought we had perhaps saved democracy, for at least a while. We need a respite. But Brownstein thinks that this is an inflection point, which of course connotes that if Republicans get away with it, they win, and for many decades, maybe forever. If you can fix a game so that you can never lose it, because you control the referees and the scoreboard, how are you going to be dislodged? Not when you have a Supreme arbiter which lets you do it, and which you can keep stocking with the spoils of your cheating.

And it is not fair, but this is another weight that President Biden has to deal with. We can’t just wait for two or four or eight years, like maybe we used to think. The strategy the Republicans use is to win at all cost, and keep winning. If the only way they can do that is to stop 10% of the Democrats from voting, they will do that if they can. And they have the Supreme Court for backup. Most Democrats, in or out of office, never really understood what was going on, they let the Republicans have their way too much.

I heard an interview with former Majority Leader George Mitchell about five years ago, and he said he was proud of how he and Minority Leader Dole worked together on the Thomas hearing. Some senators wanted to filibuster, but Mitchell would not. So we let Thomas get through; and years later, too many Democratic voters never listened to Hillary, who said over and over how important the 2016 election was in terms of the Court. Too much of the Left couldn’t be bothered, they cast a “conscience vote” for Stein, or just didn’t vote.

Obama did not complain enough about Garland, and start redlining bills that benefitted Republican senators’ districts unless they gave him a hearing. Kennedy was somehow forced to retire. They finally woke up for Kavanaugh, but it was too late. Now Biden has to somehow get HR1 through. Maybe Attorney General Garland, if the Republican ever confirm him, can crack down on vote suppression schemes, but the Court leaves voting laws to the states. So we need the voting rights act, or we need to add four or so Supreme Court seats, and we’ve got about a year to do it. Meanwhile, Senator Ron Johnson is going to demand that every sentence of the Covid Relief Bill is read on the floor, to delay passage. The Republicans obstruct everything, including the legal right to vote. We can’t wait until 2022. Our future is now.