Source: Pittsburg Post Gazette / www.post-gazette.com / By Gene Collier /
We might not have even the slipperiest handle on it for another 17 months, and we might not get any degree of certainty about it until late 2024, but I’m starting to suspect that the people trying so very hard to keep other people from voting are in for a shock.
Without pretending to understand at any psycho-social level what typically motivates your standard humans, I’m left to presume something that the authors of voter suppression legislation in 48 states, including Pennsylvania painfully, clearly do not:
Were I in an American minority in the 2020’s, defined by any reasonable standard of oppression, systemic or otherwise, nothing could motivate me to vote more than a brazen indication that white people, rich people, connected people, people born on third base thinking they hit a triple, did not want me to vote.
Ain’t no mountain high enough.
Stacking obstacles in front of voting booths from coast to coast is a naked attempt to steal the only influence most Americans have on the people who govern them – to steal their only say, to steal their only voice, and, oh by the way, to steal their Constitutional right. If you are somehow associated with any of the nearly 400 voter-suppression bills – 22 of which have already become laws in other states according to the Brennan Center for Justice, shame on ya for six years.
You might be comfortable enough in your evident skullduggery, but you’re being incredibly stupid.
This is why people are currently staring at Joe Manchin the way a dog looks at a ceiling fan.
Manchin is the Senator from West Virginia who could facilitate via multiple political mechanisms the passage into law of the For the People Act, a bulwark against voter suppression in a package of reforms that would set federal standards for online and same-day voter registration, for early voting, for mail-in ballots, and would cut-off so-called dark money contributions to campaigns from undisclosed donors, and would end gerrymandering. Put another way, this For the People Act would make it easier to vote rather than harder, something many Republicans have no interest in. The more people vote, the less relevant they become.
But Manchin is a Democrat, a Democrat who says things like this:
“The fundamental right to vote has itself become overtly politicized.”
Whaaat? See also, Day 1.
Protecting the right to vote should “never be done in a partisan manner,” and that passing such a bill would “all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen.”
Ari Berman, the voting rights expert, responded via tweet: “I don’t recall Republicans asking for bipartisan support before they introduced 400 voter suppression bills and enacted 22 new voter suppression laws in 14 states this year.”
One historian described Manchin’s tortured reasoning as “blaming the person calling the fire department rather than the arsonist, then saying the firefighters need to work with the guys holding the gasoline cans and matches.”
Dog, meet ceiling fan.
Removing the metaphors, Manchin is decrying arcane state laws that “needlessly restrict voting rights,” by obstructing legislation that would prevent arcane state laws that needlessly restrict voting rights.
You heard me.
This is government at work in 2021. Is it time for the next Congressional recess yet?
More insidious than even the voter suppression mechanisms humming like cicadas all over the landscape are the portions of these new bills and laws that allow legislatures and judges to toss out election results they deem uncomfortable with minimal evidence of voting irregularity. This is far worse than just stealing your vote. This is saying, “We’re allowing you to vote, albeit reluctantly, so you better vote correctly.” It’s the ultimate manifestation of the Trump Imperative: Votes for Trump are legitimate, votes against Trump are fraudulent.
That thinking is nothing short of a murder weapon for democracy. The weapon was not conceived and manufactured overnight. It’s been coming for a long time, and now it’s here.
When Barack Obama got to meet the playwright and former dissident Vaclav Havel in 2009, the former president of the Czech Republic told him about the dangers at hand.
“In some ways, the Soviets simplified who the enemy was,” Havel said, as quoted in Obama’s book, “A Promised Land.” “Today, autocrats are more sophisticated. They stand for election while slowly undermining the institutions that make democracy possible. They champion free markets while engaging in the same corruption, cronyism, and exploitation as existed in the past . . . Without attention from the U.S., freedom across Europe will wither.”
We used to know what to do about threats to democracy in America. I think we still do. I hope we still do.