As Trump-Republicans seek to undo every legislative hurdle, take away power over elections from every legitimate non-partisan State Secretary of State, and pass laws to make it far easier to control the results of the 2022 and 2024 elections despite the majority will of Americans across the country, President Biden, Congressional and State Democrats ought to be shouting from the rafters every day about the importance of passing major voting rights legislation as their first order of business. There is nothing more important to American democracy than preserving our election system – not BBB, not the Debt Limit, not climate issues, not foreign policy (as important as all of these are). For none of these issues can be effectively addressed in an American authoritarian society led by the likes of Trump and his sycophants.
President Biden, to his credit, gave a comprehensive and excellent voting rights speech last July – but, he has said virtually nothing since, until yesterday. At last, at the Democracy summit, as quoted by Heather Cox Richardson in her excellent daily “Letters from an American”:
“Biden vowed to protect journalists around the world from persecution and to continue to fight for the passage of voting rights and election protection legislation. He mentioned by name the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would prevent voter suppression, make it easier to vote, and dismantle the 33 new restrictive elections laws that Republican-dominated legislatures in 19 states have passed.”
“We should be making it easy for people to vote, not harder.” Biden said. “And that’s going to remain a priority for my administration until we get it done. Inaction is not an option.”
I have assumed that once the President and Congress pass some version of the Build Back Better bill that he will turn to voting rights. I have not understood, however, why he can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Why has he waited to talk about this fundamental threat to American democracy being prepared step-by-step and strategically by the Trump-Republican Party in virtually every state and congressional jurisdiction. If history is prologue, every successful major legislative effort has been preceded by constant rhetoric at the highest levels in our national and state politics. Yes, many leaders and political pundits and commentators around the country have been talking about this, but the President’s voice is the single most important one, and he has to talk about this every day to soften the ground leading to a set-aside of the congressional filibuster for democracy issues and then the passage of a major bill in the House and Senate to protect elections, eliminate gerrymandering, control money in politics, assure same day registration and mail-in voting, eliminate voter intimidation at polling places, and keep the power over state election certification in non-partisan hands, among other things.
Why has he waited? What is he waiting for? The time is now!
If you live in a district in which a Democrat represents you, do consider writing to them and the White House to insist that the President begin the rhetorical campaign to pass voting rights legislation now.