Despite again finding itself in the spotlight, the question of voting rights has a dark shadow still lingering ominously over it as on Tuesday Senate Republicans voted to block a bill intending to massively overhaul federal elections, further increasing the fracture dividing both sides of the aisle to Grand Canyon levels.
Wielding their filibuster like a blunderbuster, Senators voted 50-50 on advancing the For the People Act, falling well short of getting the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP determined to put a stop to the Democrats desire for sweeping reforms of U.S. election and voting law. Something that was decisively proved as all 50 Republican senators voted against advancing and debating the voting reform legislation. Republican leader Mitch McConnell even went as far as calling the bill “a solution looking for a problem”
From the Democrat’s side of the fence, they see this bill as much needed reform to curb the influence of money in politics and limiting partisan influence over the drawing of congressional districts, and most importantly, putting a stop to the suppression of minority voters. Though President Joe Biden declared, “This fight is far from over.” many go further and see this as the Civil Rights fight of the era.
The likelihood of getting any Republicans onside seems as thin as the hair of the previous occupant of the Oval Office, with many GOP Senators openly voicing not just their displeasure for a bill some have renamed it the “Screw the People Act,” while others like Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, used equally inflammatory rhetoric by describing the bill as, “a despicable, disingenuous attempt to strip states of their constitutional right to administer elections” that “should never come close to reaching the president’s desk.”
It’s not all plain sailing for Democrat support either as a group of moderate Democratic senators, two of which are Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona, had early objections to the bill due to the likely nonexistence of Republican support. At least Manchin reconsidered his position after agreeing to consider a revised version thinking it would garner bipartisan support, which of course, it ultimately did not.
Although many on the left decry the use of the filibuster, the Democrats were entirely content to wield it themselves during the four years of Trump, using it when they perceived that his administration was trying to pass laws on the more authoritarian side or in order to help the 1%ers instead of the rest of society, many who voted for his ‘man of the people’ persona.
Recently elected Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia called minority Republicans’ willingness to prevent debate on the voting bill a “dereliction” of duty. And while many might think the stench of hypocrisy wafts in the air, the issue of voter’s rights is baked into the foundation of this nation and therefore something not easily consigned to the history books.
With the specter of ‘widespread voter fraud’ and ‘stolen election’ still looming as an ever darkening zeitgeist, coupled with a seemingly fractured GOP, one side grasping desperately to their traditional values and the other looking to Trump as a Kingmaker, Democrats face more than an uphill battle when it comes getting more Republicans onside, let alone passing any voting related legislation.