Early march Joe biden signed executive order to “protect and promote the exercise of the right to vote” – a response to the wave of disenfranchisement bills being pushed by Republicans in state legislatures across the country. The order didn’t do much, there’s just so much to may on voting rights through executive action, but it was intended to be a sign that the president and his administration were taking the anti-democratic threat from the Trumpist Republican Party seriously. “We cannot let them succeed,” Biden said in a statement at the time.
But four months later, Biden and the Democrats seem no closer to stopping the crusade against the Republican vote. In fact, they’ve lost ground since then: States like Georgia and Florida have enacted their draconian voting restrictions, and Texas is poised to do the same. Biden has spoken passionately and eloquently in defense of the vote, and Kamala harris He has been working on the issue since the beginning of the summer, but they have failed to unify their party around a strategy to fight the Republican Party, with its pro-democracy bills still held hostage to Senate obstructionism. Biden seems to legitimately acknowledge the danger of what the Republicans are doing. But it has been difficult to understand what exactly he wants his party to do about it.
A new report may offer a glimpse into management thinking. According to the New York TimesWhite House officials and Biden allies recently expressed confidence to voting rights groups that they could “organize more than voter suppression,” essentially believing that Democrats can get enough voters to overcome election shenanigans. of the Republican Party. White House officials said they “did not recall” making such comments to advocates, but the focus on engagement appears to be in line with the way the administration has. addressed the problem up to now. “I’ve heard an emphasis on organization.” Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, told the Times. That suggests the administration, rather than fighting Republican attacks on the franchise, is more or less accepting them as an unfortunate reality and prioritizing efforts to overcome barriers at the polls rather than on Capitol Hill.
There is a certain amount of political realism in this tactic: The John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act cannot be passed with filibuster in place, and even if Biden did decide to abolish it, Joe manchin other Kyrsten sinema They say there is no circumstance in which they would. Talking about obstruction again or lowering the bar from 60 votes to 55 might be possible, but those changes may not be enough to stop Republicans, whose political prospects depend on the same voter suppression efforts the bills are meant to prevent. . “I would talk until I fell” Lindsey graham saying in March, suggesting that even making obstructionism more difficult would not stop Republicans from doing so. For the White House, it might make more sense to direct their efforts where they have the best chance of success. Democrats garnered a record number of voters for Biden in 2020, even with access barriers already in place and a raging pandemic. Surely they could do it again, right?
Maybe. But there are flaws in this thinking, beyond the obvious fact that barriers to the polls are fundamentally wrong, even if they are overcome. First, it ignores the scope of the GOP’s well-organized disenfranchisement campaign. Second, voting restrictions are just one component of the Republicans’ scheme: in addition to passing laws to make it difficult to vote, they have also been working to gain more control of the electoral process itself. Donald trumpEfforts to reverse his 2020 defeat failed, in part, because officials charged with administering and certifying election results resisted his demands that they “find” or discard votes and do their job. Now the Republican Party is trying to disempower or replace them. Democrats can get their voters to the polls despite Republican restrictions, but what happens if election officials like Trump don’t respect the results? Boosting turnout will be important heading into the 2022 midterm elections and the 2024 general elections. But doing so without also countering anti-democratic Republican legislation is a gamble. “We cannot litigate to get out of this,” Ifill told the Times, “And we can’t organize our way out of this.”
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