The White House needs to explain its voting rights strategy
Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris announced that, to counter the flood of restrictive voting measures that have been enacted in several Republican-controlled states, the Democratic National Committee would spend $ 25 million on “voter registration tools and technology, educate voters, convert voters, to protect voters. “
On comments at Howard University, Harris said, “People say, ‘What’s the strategy?’” To which she responded, “We’re going to put together the biggest voter protection team we’ve ever had to make sure all Americans can vote. and that their vote is counted in a fair and transparent process. “
Surprisingly, Harris did not mention as part of the strategy for the enactment of the For the People Act, voting rights legislation that Democrats passed in the House but cannot get around filibuster in the Senate. After Harris’s speech at Howard and a West Wing meeting with President Biden, advocates for voting rights were not reassured. “There is no substitute for federal legislative action,” he said. Michael waldman from the Brennan Center for Justice. Several demanded that Biden use his bully pulpit more aggressively. Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said: “I told the president: We will not be able to get out of this threat to black citizens with litigation. We must make the president use his voice. “
Democratic members of Congress are also pushing Biden to not only push through the voting rights bill, but also to weaken the filibuster to pass the bill. In an interview with PoliticalHouse Majority Leader James Clyburn said Biden should “pick up the phone and say [Sen.] Joe Manchin, ‘Hey, we should split’ ”” from obstructionism, which means banning the tactic when there is legislation in the Senate related to constitutional rights.
The White House and most of the rest of the Democratic Party have different strategies on voting rights, because they seem to be operating on a different set of premises. “This is an existential crisis for democracy and the party that defends democracy,” he said. Representative Jamie Raskin, arguing that the Democratic Party needs the Law for the People. But according to the report of Ron Brownstein of the Atlantic, the Biden administration does not have the same sense of impending doom. “While White House officials view the laws as offensive from a civil rights perspective,” he wrote, “they do not believe that most of those laws will benefit Republicans in the 2022 and 2024 elections as much as many liberal activists fear. “.
Brownstein interviewed an anonymous White House official, who noted Biden’s ability to navigate voting laws in 2020. “Show us what the rules are and we’ll find a way to educate our voters and make sure they understand how they can vote. and we will get them out to vote, ”said this Biden aide.
As i have previously written, recent history (Barack Obama’s reelection, Democrats ‘inauguration of the House in 2018, Biden’s victory, and Democrats’ seizure of the Senate in 2020) supports the White House view. ; Democrats can and have overcome restrictive voting laws backed by Republicans. In particular, academic research shows that strict laws requiring identification to vote have directly failed Republicans by firing at the Democratic base.
Yet to acknowledge that Democrats have the ability to outdo and outnumber Republicans is to acknowledge that modern voter suppression attempts have been too weak to condemn our democracy. The republican intention behind restrictive electoral laws can be dire, but the impact to date it has been insignificant.
Such analysis is completely out of sync with the perspective of most activist Democrats, who have convinced themselves that Republicans are building a regime of repressive electoral law dating back to the Jim Crow era. In turn, Biden and his team have chosen not to provoke tension within the party by openly and vigorously challenging the narrative deeply held by most grassroots Democrats.
While it is certainly understandable that Biden does not want to sow dissent within the ranks of his own party, we are seeing the downside of not correcting flawed narratives. No party leader was willing to challenge the assumptions of most party members, guide them through the available data, and explain how Democrats can still get their voters to the polls regardless of what Republican state legislatures pass.
Most Democrats believe that passage of the For the People Act is essential to the fate of their party and democracy itself. If White House officials believe approval is not essential, but he is unwilling to explain why, confusion and demoralization among the Democratic base would seem inevitable.
Democrats face an uphill battle in 2022, as the president’s party almost always loses more than a few House seats in a midterm election and the Democratic margin in the House is just five seats. And control of the Senate is also on a razor’s edge. If Democrats want to make history and keep their majorities in Congress, their ranks cannot be demoralized. It is time for the Biden administration to speak directly to the Democratic base.
Bill Scher is a contributing editor for Politico Magazine, a co-host of the Bloggingheads.tv show “The DMZ”, and a host of the podcast “New Books in Politics.” He can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @BillScher.