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Daily Archives: June 23rd, 2021


Both political parties and their subsets are about one thing and one thing only and that is power! No matter the good intentions and accidental good works, I would not let either of them hold my wallet! Instead of doing what they were elected to do they spend time dragging the others ideas down and appearing on TV shows often ranting and raving while many times presenting nothing of substance. The selected information that is “leaked” or presented is often just enough information to get voters to choose sides or at the least lean towards their re election runs. Many voters are intelligent enough to find the correct information on anything that is uttered by politicians and elected officials. Some of the more notable or well known voices are just barely more than talking heads that want us geeked up against the “other” side. MA.

June 22, 2021Heather Cox RichardsonJun 23There were three important takeaways from today’s Senate vote on whether to begin debate on S1, the For the People Act, the bill that would protect voting rights, end partisan gerrymandering, establish new ethics rules for federal officials, and curb big money in politics.The first is that Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted with the rest of the Democrats to move the measure forward. This means that he is confident that his compromise ideas will be inserted into the final bill and that the Democrats are united. Tonight, the White House nodded to Manchin when it applauded “efforts in the Senate to incorporate feedback that refines and strengthens the bill, and would make its reformers easier for the states to implement.”The same White House statement offered strong support for the For the People Act, saying, “Democracy is in peril, here, in America. The right to vote—a sacred right in this country— is under assault with an intensity and an aggressiveness we have not seen in a long time.” It pointed to the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection to remind us that “our democracy is fragile” and that we need legislation to “repair and strengthen American democracy.”The second takeaway is that all 50 of the Republicans voted against the measure, which would have helped to combat the voter suppression laws being enacted by Republican-dominated legislatures across the country. According to the nonpartisan Voting Rights Lab, 18 states have put in place more than 30 laws restricting access to the ballot. These laws will affect around 36 million people, or about 15% of all eligible voters.Led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Republicans insist that federal protection of voting rights is federal overreach; that the states should be in charge of their own voting rules. As Susan Collins (R-ME) put it: “S. 1 would take away the rights of people in each of the 50 states to determine which election rules work best for their citizens.”And the third takeaway is that the Republicans are defending the same principle that Senator Stephen A. Douglas advanced when he debated Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln in Illinois in 1858.Four years before, Douglas had led Congress to throw out the 1820 Missouri Compromise, a federal law that kept the system of Black enslavement out of the land above the southern border of the new slave state of Missouri, in land the U.S. had acquired through the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Eager to enable a transcontinental railroad to run west of Chicago, Douglas introduced a bill to organize a territory in that land in 1854 but, knowing that southern senators would never permit a new free territory that would eventually become a free state without balancing it with a slave state, he wrote a bill for two new territories, not one.Both were in territory covered by the Missouri Compromise and thus should have been free under federal law. But Douglas insisted that true democracy meant that the people in the territories should decide whether or not they would welcome slavery to their midst.Working as a lawyer back in Illinois, Lincoln recognized that this “popular sovereignty” would guarantee the spread of Black enslavement across the West, since under the Constitution, even a single enslaved Black American in a territory would require laws to protect that “property.” Slave states would eventually outnumber free states in Congress, and their representatives would make human enslavement national.In 1858, when Lincoln, now a member of the new Republican Party, challenged Democrat Douglas for his Senate seat, the key issue was whether Douglas’s “democracy” squared with American principles.Lincoln said it didn’t. Local voters should not be able to carry enslavement into lands that a majority of Americans wanted free. He did not defend civil rights, but he insisted that the framers had deliberately tried to advance the principles of the Declaration of Independence by using the federal government to limit the expansion of enslavement.Douglas insisted it did. In his view, democracy meant that voters in the states and territories could arrange their governments however they wished.But central to that belief was who, exactly, would be doing the arranging. “I hold that this Government was made on the white basis, by white men, for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever, and should be administered by white men and none others,” he said. Claiming that he, not Lincoln, was “in favor of preserving this Government as our fathers made it,” he told an audience in Jonesboro, Illinois, “we ought to extend to the negro every right, every privilege, every immunity which he is capable of enjoying, consistent with the good of society. When you ask me what these rights are, what their nature and extent is, I tell you that that is a question which each State of this Union must decide for itself.” His own state of Illinois, he pointed out, rejected Black enslavement, “but we have also decided that… that he shall not vote, hold office, or exercise any political rights. I maintain that Illinois, as a sovereign State, has a right thus to fix her policy….”I found it chilling to hear Douglas’s argument from 1858 echo in the Senate today, for after seeing exactly how his argument enabled white southern legislators to cut their Black neighbors out of the vote in the 1870s and then pass Jim Crow laws that lasted for more than 70 years, our lawmakers should know better. How is it possible to square states’ rights and equality without also protecting the right of all adult citizens to vote? Unless everyone has equal access to the ballot, what is there to stop Douglas’s view of “the good of society” from coming to pass yet again?Congress will recess after Thursday and won’t resume business until July 12. The big push to pass a voting rights measure will happen then.—-
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Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an AmericanMon 6/21/202

June 21, 2021Heather Cox RichardsonJun 22

Lawmakers today are jockeying before tomorrow’s test vote in the Senate on S1, the For the People Act. This is a sweeping bill that protects the right to vote, ends partisan gerrymandering, limits the influence of money in politics, and establishes new ethics rules for presidents and other federal officeholders.Passing election reform is a priority for Democrats, since Republican-dominated legislatures across the country have gerrymandered states to make it almost impossible for Democrats to win majorities and, since President Biden took office, have passed laws suppressing the vote and making it easier for Republican state officials to swing elections to their candidates no matter what voters want.But it is not just Democrats who want our elections to be cleaner and fairer. S1 is so popular across the nation—among voters of both parties—that Republican operatives agreed in January that there was no point in trying to shift public opinion on it. Instead, they said, they would just kill it in Congress. This conversation, explored in The New Yorker by Jane Mayer, happened just after it became clear that Democrats had won a Senate majority and thus Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who had previously been Senate Majority Leader, would no longer be able to stop any legislation Republicans didn’t like.Still, Republican senators can deploy the filibuster, which permits just 41 of the 50 Republican senators to stop the act from passing. It is possible for the Democrats to break a filibuster, but only if they are all willing. Until recently, it seemed they were not. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), a conservative Democrat in a Republican-dominated state, opposed some of the provisions in S1 and was adamant that he would not vote for an election reform bill on partisan lines. He wanted bipartisan support.Last week, Manchin indicated which of the measures in the For the People Act—and in the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—he will support. In a mixture of the priorities of the leadership of each party, he called for expanding access to voting, an end to partisan gerrymandering, voter ID, automatic registration at motor vehicle offices, making Election Day a holiday, and making it easier for state officials to purge voters from the rolls.Democrats across the ideological spectrum immediately lined up behind Manchin’s compromise. Republican leadership immediately opposed it, across the board. They know that fair voting practices will wreck them. Today, McConnell used martial language when he said he would give the measure “no quarter.”Tomorrow, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will bring up for a vote not the measure itself, but whether to begin a debate on such a measure. “Tomorrow, the Senate will also take a crucial vote on whether to start debate on major voting rights legislation,” Schumer said today. “I want to say that again—tomorrow the Senate will take a vote on whether to start debate on legislation to protect Americans’ voting rights. It’s not a vote on any particular policy.”Republicans can use the filibuster to stop a debate from going forward. Getting a debate underway will require 60 votes, and there is currently no reason to think any Republicans will agree. This will put them in the untenable spot of voting against talking about voting rights, even while Republicans at the state level are passing legislation restricting voting rights. So the vote to start a debate on the bill will fail but will highlight the hypocrisy of Republican lawmakers.Perhaps more to the point in terms of passing legislation, it will test whether the work the Democrats did over the weekend incorporating Manchin’s requests to the measure have brought him on board.If so, and if he gets frustrated with Republican refusal to compromise at all while the Democrats immediately accepted his watering down of their bill, it is possible he and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who has also signaled support for the filibuster in its current form, will be willing to consider altering it. The Senate could, for example, turn it back into its traditional form—a talking filibuster—or carve out voting rights bills as they have carved out financial bills and judicial nominations.There are signs that the Democrats are preparing for an epic battle over this bill. Today White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki indicated that the administration hopes the vote will show that all 50 Senate Democrats are now on board and that they will find a new way forward if the Republicans do not permit a debate.More telling, perhaps, is an eye-popping op-ed published yesterday in the Wall Street Journal by Mike Solon, a former assistant to McConnell, and Bill Greene, a former outreach director for former House Speaker John Boehner; both men are now lobbyists. In order to defend the filibuster, they argue that the measure protects “political nobodies” from having to pay attention to politics. If legislation could pass by a simple majority, Americans would have to get involved. The system, they suggest, is best managed by a minority of senators.“Eliminating the Senate filibuster would end the freedom of America’s political innocents,” they write. “The lives that political nobodies spend playing, praying, fishing, tailgating, reading, hunting, gardening, studying and caring for their children would be spent rallying, canvassing, picketing, lobbying, protesting, texting, posting, parading and, above all, shouting.”The authors suggest misleadingly that the men who framed the Constitution instituted the filibuster: they did not. They set up a Senate in which a simple majority passed legislation. The filibuster, used to require 60 votes to pass any legislation, has been deployed regularly only since about 2008.But that error is minor compared to the astonishing similarity between this op-ed and a speech by South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond in 1858, when he rose to explain to his colleagues that the American system was set up to make sure lawmakers could retain control no matter what a majority of Americans wanted. Hammond was one of the nation’s leading enslavers and was desperate to make sure his party’s policies could not be overridden by the majority.Voting only enabled people to change the party in charge, he said. “It was not for the people to exercise political power in detail… it was not for them to be annoyed with the cares of government.”Hammond explained that the world is made up of two classes: those who ”do the menial duties… perform the drudgery of life. That is, a class requiring but a low order of intellect and but little skill….. It constitutes the very mud-sill of society and of political government.” On them, he explained, rests “that other class which leads progress, civilization, and refinement.”It was imperative, he said, to retain these distinctions in politics. The South had managed such a thing, while the North, he warned, had not. “Our slaves do not vote. We give them no political power. Yours do vote, and, being the majority, they are the depositaries [sic] of all your political power. If they knew the tremendous secret, that the ballot-box is stronger than ‘an army with banners,’… where would you be? Your society would be reconstructed, your government overthrown, your property, divided, not… with arms in their hands, but by the quiet process of the ballot-box.”—-
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