Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Missing The Moment

In a speech at Constitution Hall in Philadelphia, Pa. three months ago, President Biden declared “Help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our election and the sacred right to vote. Have you no shame?”

Well, of course, Republicans do not. And though the righteous indignation may have been real, the determination to do much about it is absent.

Senate Majority Leader Schumer has announced that he will set a procedural vote for the Freedom to Vote Act as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, October 20. However, even with the support of Senators Manchin and Sinema, it will die because of filibuster while Minority Leader McConnell has said no Republicans will vote for it.

The week after Biden's stirring endorsement of the right to vote, Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, the prominent civil rights leader who founded and has led the Poor People's campaign, urged the President  “Go to Texas, and meet with a diverse group of people on the ground to put a face on this issue. Then go to Arizona. Go to West Virginia,” he said. “There ought to be a speech from the well of Congress.”

Certainly, eliminating the "sacred right to vote" is not Joe Biden's preference, but neither is it his priority, nor is eliminating the filibuster, which is preventing Congress from curbing voter suppression.  Peter Nicholas of The Atlantic writes

When I mentioned the alarm coming from activists, the White House official told me that the Biden administration is “pushing full force” to pass voting protections. “It’s fair for activists to continue to push,” the official said. “Every constituency has their issue. If you ask immigration folks, they’ll tell you their issue is a life-or-death issue too.” (Democracy’s preservation would seem more than a pet issue.) In one crucial respect, Biden has been holding back: He has yet to give a full-throated statement that Senate Democrats need to end the filibuster.

The right to vote is not immigration. It's not police reform or child-care subsidies, and it's not building roads and other hard infrastructure. It's the foundation of democracy, without which nothing more will be gained and most of which has been procured will be lost with the imposition of one-party Republican rule.

Action on the Build Back Better agenda, coronaviruses, and supply chain disruptions, which has characterized this presidency, is necessary but not sufficient. Walter Shaub understands:


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