For The People Act Cannot Die — Here’s Why

After the Census Bureau released detailed population and demographic data from the 2020 census yesterday, states and local governments are set to begin the once-a-decade process of drawing new voting district boundaries known as redistricting. And gerrymandering — when those boundaries are drawn with the intention of influencing who gets elected — is bound to follow.

The current redistricting cycle will be the first since the Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling that gerrymandering for party advantage cannot be challenged in federal court, which has set the stage for perhaps the most ominous round of map drawing in the country’s history.

In the unlikely event that the For the People Act passes the Senate, gerrymandering will be relegated to the annals of history, but since that is about as likely as me growing a pair of wings and flying far, far away, I will take this opportunity to redux my explanation of gerrymandering from a post I did back in 2019:

Gerrymandering, for any who may be unclear on precisely what the term means, is a means of re-drawing district maps to manipulate the boundaries in order to favour one party over the other.  The Washington Post published an excellent article explaining the process  back in March 2015  that I urge you to take a look at.  The graphic below, taken from that article, provides a pretty good visual explanation.

Every 10 years, states redraw their legislative and congressional district lines following the census. Because communities change, redistricting is critical to our democracy: maps must be redrawn to ensure that districts are equally populated, comply with laws such as the Voting Rights Act, and are otherwise representative of a state’s population. Done right, redistricting is a chance to create maps that, in the words of John Adams, are an “exact portrait, a miniature” of the people as a whole.

Trouble is, it is almost never ‘done right’.

While legislative and congressional district shapes may look wildly different from state to state, most attempts to gerrymander can best be understood through the lens of two basic techniques: cracking and packing.

Cracking splits groups of people with similar characteristics, such as voters of the same party affiliation, or perhaps the same … skin colour … across multiple districts. With their voting strength divided and diluted, these groups struggle to elect their preferred candidates in any of the districts.

Packing is the opposite of cracking: map drawers cram certain groups of voters into as few districts as possible. In these few districts, the “packed” groups are likely to elect their preferred candidates, but the groups’ voting strength is weakened everywhere else.

While historically both parties have used gerrymandering to their advantage, today it is largely the Republicans who do so in order to disenfranchise certain groups, among them Blacks, the elderly, college students, and the working poor.  Now, coupled with the blatant voter suppression laws that are being proposed and legislated in 42 of the 50 states, and … well, you can see the problem.  Black people’s voices will be diluted, as will the elderly and others, while white Christians will have their voices amplified.  One piece of legislation can halt both voter suppression laws and gerrymandering in their tracks:  the For the People Act.

In a nutshell, this bill, which has already passed in the House of Representatives and is lying dormant in the Senate today, will …

  • Make it easier for every eligible voter to register to vote
  • Make it easier for every registered voter to vote
  • Make election day a public holiday
  • Ban partisan gerrymandering by prohibiting adoption of any map that has the intent or effect of “unduly favoring or disfavoring” one political party over another
  • Require that congressional redistricting be transparent and participatory, with open meetings and public hearings, opportunities for the public to review and comment on proposed maps
  • Require that states carry out congressional redistricting using independent commissions that:
    • prohibit current and recent lawmakers, staff, and lobbyists and others with conflicts of interest from serving on the commission;
    • include an equal number of Republican, Democratic, and unaffiliated or third-party members selected through a rigorous screening process, with voting rules designed to ensure that maps can pass only with support from all three groups; and
    • include members who are representative of the state’s demographic makeup and different geographic regions, with enough members from racial, ethnic, and language minorities to give those groups a meaningful opportunity to participate in the redistricting process

There is much, much more in this bill that would bring equity and fairness back into our election process, and I do plan to cover more of it in the near future, but … the bill is on the chopping block and desperately needs to be resuscitated.  It is subject to the senate filibuster, an archaic, racist tool that is used by the minority party to keep legislation they don’t like from ever passing any legislation.  In this case, however, We the People need to step up to the plate, we need to fight tooth and nail to get this legislation passed!  This may, in fact, be the single most important bill on the docket of this Congress — even more crucial than the infrastructure bill.

Why, exactly, don’t the Republicans want to allow the For the People Act to see the light of day?  Because in a fair and honest election, few Republicans would stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected.  Ever since they showed their racist side in response to a Black man being elected president, and then backed a raving madman with zero qualifications for the presidency in 2016, the Republican Party has been on a downhill path, eschewing sound policymaking and instead engaging in lies, cheating, conspiracy theories, and such nefarious practices to win elections.  In 2016, their hero lost by 2.8 million votes, but due to gerrymandered districts, was placed in the Oval Office by the Electoral College.  The minority ruled.  Last year, that same hero lost by more than 7 million votes, and the Republicans are determined not to allow that to happen again, even if it means stopping the votes of the majority.  And if all else fails, there is little doubt in my mind that they will have a ‘Plan B’, likely something along the lines of what happened on January 6th.

If we care at all about this nation, if we care about how our government spends our hard-earned tax dollars and how they treat people, then we must DEMAND that the Senate pass this damn bill!!!  Otherwise, welcome to the Plutocracy of the dis-United States.

A Republican voter sent the following letter to the editor

We often make the mistake of categorizing people by their religion or political affiliation, and I’m as guilty as the next person. But our friend Keith has posted a letter to the editor that appeared in his local paper by a lifelong Republican, that makes so much sense, that shows us not every Republican is willing to follow their leaders off of a steep cliff. It is my hope that there are many more Republicans who feel this way and aren’t afraid to say so! Thank you, Keith, for sharing this!

musingsofanoldfart

The following letter by a “lifelong registered Republican voter” appeared in my newspaper’s Letters to the Editors. I agree with what is said by someone who is as disillusioned and concerned as I am about the direction of the Republican party. It was under a banner of “GOP Censorship.”

“I’m a lifelong registered Republican voter disturbed by the GOP’s elitist push for censorship. From the manufactured outrage over Critical Race Theory to tortured justifications for unconstitutional voter suppression legislation, Republican conservatives are showing themselves to be thin-skinned, intolerant and frankly ignorant about the basic ideas of what makes America great.

This reflexive obedience to elite authoritarianism by millions of Christian Republican conservatives didn’t start with the Trump administration. Sadly, it doesn’t look as it will end with it, either. The majority of patriotic Americans must stand vigil against this tide or repression and fear.”

I will leave his name off…

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My Worst Nightmare

Many things bother me at the moment:  Those who are actively rejecting the COVID vaccine; the determined obstruction by the Republican Party in Congress; climate change and those who refuse to so much as lift a finger to help reverse decades of man-made damage; wealthy people not paying their fair share in taxes; the ignorance of those who still believe in the former guy’s Big Lie, and the list goes on … and on.  However, the one thing that is keeping me awake nights, is bothering me more than any other single issue in this nation, that has made me contemplate seeking a new country to call home, is the current push for voter suppression and the fact that Congress and the Courts are doing NOTHING to stop states from attempting to move this nation back to the days of Jim Crow.

If you share my concerns, I hope you’ll take a minute to read Charles Blow’s latest column regarding voting rights … or should I say lack thereof …


Welcome to Jim Crow 2.0

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

In the wake of the Civil War, liberals in the North went about establishing Reconstruction, passing the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, greatly expanding the rights of Black people in America, and putting severe restrictions on Southern states before they could be readmitted to the Union.

But of course, the Northern liberals soon grew impatient with and tired of dealing with Reconstruction and the racial issues in the South. At the same time, racial terror was regaining strength in the region.

After Reconstruction was allowed to fail, the last remaining federal troops — who had helped protect Black people from the terrorists — were withdrawn from the South. Even though there was a large percentage of Black voters in many of these states — and Black voters were the majority in some — the terrorists were able to significantly reduce that voter participation through intimidation and violence.

In Mississippi, where Black voters were the overwhelming majority, this suppression succeeded well enough that in 1890 the state called a constitutional convention to write white supremacy into the DNA of the state and to restrict the Black vote.

Only one Black delegate was invited to the convention.

When Mississippi established its Jim Crow Constitution, it didn’t submit it to the public for a vote. Instead, it simply declared that “This Constitution, adopted by the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, shall be in force and effect from and after this the first day of November, A.D. 1890.”

If it had gone before the people, Black voters would have surely voted it down.

Because the Constitution was not put before the voters, there was some question about its validity, but that was put to rest in 1892, when, as The New York Times reported, “The Supreme Court today settled the point, which was made in a contested election case, holding that the Constitutional Convention was the embodiment of the sovereignty of the people, and that it was competent for it to put into effect the new Constitution without submission to be voted on.”

Without the courts or Congress stepping in to protect voter rights, Mississippi served as the shining beacon of a way forward, and state after state in the South followed, copying the Mississippi example and calling state constitutional conventions of their own, establishing Jim Crow in the South.

The racist South may have fallen in defeat in the Civil War, but it rose in victory in the ballot war.

Once Jim Crow was established, Washington was in no hurry to dismantle it. Liberals simply worked around it. For decades, they simply accommodated Southern racists so as not to offend them and to retain the possibility of earning their votes.

Black voters in the region, disenfranchised and therefore disempowered, were essentially written out of the political calculus.

It would take more than seven decades before Congress would fully restore voting rights for Black people in the South. So, a 30-year-old Black voter in Mississippi who was disenfranchised in 1890 very likely died never having cast another ballot.

These voter suppression efforts were so effective and so emboldening that they even led to a movement — though unsuccessful — to repeal the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed Black men the right to vote.

In 1903, Representative John S. Williams of Mississippi, a proponent of the repeal, called the 15th Amendment “one of the greatest crimes in political history.”

Fast forward to the present, when Donald Trump is calling his election loss “the greatest fraud in the history of our country from an electoral standpoint,” in part because it was made possible by the votes of Black and brown people.

Most of Trump history was a failure and embarrassment, but one of its great ignoble successes is that it is ushering in Jim Crow 2.0.

Just as in the 1890s, the courts and Congress are not doing much to stop the march of voter suppression. In 1890, Benjamin Harrison, a business-minded liberal who believed in Black people’s right to vote, was in office. He endorsed the federal elections bill that would protect Black people from raging voter suppression in the South.

The bill passed in the House but languished and died in the Senate — even though liberals controlled both chambers — in part because those liberals were more focused on other issues.

Then, as The Washington Post reported, around the time of the Mississippi constitutional convention, “African Americans from 40 counties in Mississippi had protested to President Benjamin Harrison, but he declined to intervene.”

President Biden hasn’t declined to intervene, but he has dragged his feet and not used the full force of the bully pulpit and still hasn’t given a full-throated endorsement of ending the filibuster to protect voting rights.

America is having a déjà vu moment, reliving in real time a horrendous history of more than a century ago, and it is impossible to understand how Democrats in Washington don’t see that.

There is no reason to believe that this round of voter suppression is the end of those efforts, and every reason to dread that any successful implementation of them would serve as an accelerant of further suppressive efforts.

Voter suppression is like an invasive weed. Either snatch it up by the root at the first sign of a sprig or it will spread, unchecked, and consume the whole garden.


I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a country that robs half of its people of the right to participate in government, the right to make their voices heard.

The Case Of Mr. Hervis Rogers

Texas, like many other states, has been desperately looking for cases of voter fraud in the 2020 election.  Finding none, they seized on a 62-year-old man … a Black man, naturally … to make an example, to plead their case for the latest round of voter suppression laws they are attempting to pass.  Charles M. Blow, writing for the New York Times, sums up the tragic case of Mr. Hervis Rogers … if this story doesn’t make you sick, doesn’t stir your ire, then I don’t know what will.


The Voter Fraud Fraud

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

July 11, 2021

It was March 3, 2020, the day of the Democratic primary in Texas, and Hervis Rogers, a 62-year-old Black man, was intent on making his voice heard at the ballot box. He arrived at the polling place around 7 p.m. and joined the line.

The polling place later closed to new people joining the line, but Rogers remained. Other people trickled away, unable or unwilling to wait, but Rogers remained. He stayed in that line for nearly seven hours until he was finally able to vote at 1:30 a.m.

Rogers also voted in the November 2018 election.

But there was a complication: Rogers was out on parole for a 1995 second-degree felony conviction for burglary. His parole was set to end in a few months, but it hadn’t ended when he voted in the primary.

As The Texan has reported, “According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Rogers’s parole extended to June 13, 2020. In 2016, however, he signed and submitted a voter registration card swearing that he was not finally convicted or on parole at the time.”

This, in Texas, is against the law — and punishable by a severe sentence, at least for those who “knowingly” violate this election law. Rogers claims that he didn’t knowingly do so, but it doesn’t matter: He is a Black man with a criminal history, a perfect boogeyman and scapegoat to help illustrate a virtually nonexistent problem of voter fraud.

On Wednesday, the day before the Texas Legislature was to convene in a special session called by the governor to pass a draconian voter suppression bill that Democrats had blocked in the regular session by walking out, authorities in Texas made a huge splash by arresting Rogers. The New York Times last week interviewed one of Rogers’s lawyers, Tommy Buser-Clancy, a senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, and reported that Rogers “could face upward of 40 years in prison — 20 years for each charge, according to Mr. Buser-Clancy, who added that Mr. Rogers’s past criminal record meant that the sentence could be even higher.”

This entire case is an abomination. Rogers became the straw man for their special session.

But the history of pursuing Black people for voter fraud is long. It is a form of terror as a deterrent. It is a scare tactic aimed at the Black people who intend to vote and for the benefit of the white electorate nervous that their electoral power and supremacy is in retreat. According to their logic, the determinative white vote and white voice is in danger not because of shifts in values and demographics, but because of deceit and chicanery. As such, they must pass laws to crack down and ensure the purity of the vote. They don’t want to bolster the vote, but to bleach it.

This is not the first time that Texas has targeted a Black person for voter fraud.

As The Times reported in April:

On Election Day 2016, Crystal Mason went to vote after her mother insisted that she make her voice heard in the presidential election. When her name didn’t appear on official voting rolls at her polling place in Tarrant County, Texas, she filled out a provisional ballot, not thinking anything of it.

Ms. Mason’s ballot was never officially counted or tallied because she was ineligible to vote: She was on supervised release after serving five years for tax fraud. Nonetheless, that ballot has wrangled her into a lengthy appeals process after a state district court sentenced her to five years in prison for illegal voting, as she was a felon on probation when she cast her ballot.

The Black vote is targeted for suppression in all sorts of ways: requiring IDs that Black voters are less likely to have, restricting the times and places at which ballots can be cast, purging voter rolls and preventing those convicted of crimes from casting ballots.

As NPR reported Friday, “Those critics also say these laws also disproportionately impact people of color. There were almost 160,000 people in Texas prisons in 2016, according to research from the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform group. More than 490,000 Texans were on probation or parole in 2017, and Black Texans were four times more likely to be incarcerated than white Texans, the group said.”

Each voter suppression tactic may only shave off a few percentage points from the tally, if that, but in close elections small margins matter. Taken together, these tactics can have an even larger effect.

And this prosecution of Black people who vote after convictions is not limited to Texas. Lanisha Bratcher, a Black woman in North Carolina on probation after being convicted of assault, was arrested three years after she voted in the 2016 presidential election, and faced nearly two years in prison for it.

As Christina Rivers, an associate professor of political science at DePaul University, has written, felon disenfranchisement has a long history: “These laws first appeared in the United States in the early 19th century” and “reinforced precepts of Black inferiority and criminality that pervaded the colonial and antebellum eras, and thus have had a particularly pernicious effect on African-American political power.”

Black people are targeted by the criminal justice system and that is used to target them by the electoral system. Either way, if you are Black in America, you are a target.

Open Letter To Every Republican Senator

Dear Republican Senator …

YOU had the unique opportunity to pass legislation that would have protected mine and others’ right to vote for the foreseeable future, and you stupidly passed up that opportunity for reasons that are completely incomprehensible to me and my fellow citizens.

When you took that Oath of Office and swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution, did you think it was a joke?  Did you think you were just saying words that had no meaning, that carried no responsibility?  Why did you even run for office if you had no intention of acting in the best interests of the nation and the people who live here, who work their asses off to survive and pay their taxes so that you can be paid every month?  It appears to me that you did not run for office because you wanted to help this nation or the people, but only so you could take donations from wealthy corporations to feather your own nest.

You, Senator, do not deserve the position you hold, the office you occupy.  The people who you have caused grievous harm to are people like me … the elderly, college students, Black and Hispanic people, and single working mothers.

I sincerely hope that one way or another, you are forced out of the United States Senate and soon, for you have let the people of this country down, you have been derelict in your duties, and you are a greedy, racist person who I have lost any respect I once had for.  I do not respect you or any of your republican cohorts in the United States Congress.  You failed miserably today, and you have no excuse … not a single one of you even voted to debate the bill!  Do you really hate the people you represent that much such that you will not even spend a few hours considering protecting our rights?

I expect a reply to this letter … it is the very least that you can do, since you have robbed me of my constitutional rights and made me wish I lived anywhere but this ‘shithole country.’

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison – citizen, taxpayer, VOTER

4 Details From Merrick Garland’s Voting Rights Announcement

I was thrilled to read yesterday … or was it the day before? … that the Department of Justice under Attorney General Merrick Garland will be taking on the issue of voting rights, given that the U.S. Senate is almost certain to refuse to uphold and protect our civil rights.  Our friend TokyoSand has written about some of the details of Garland’s plan, and included a short video clip of his speech that I hope you’ll take time to watch.  Thank you, TS, for all your good work!


4 Details From Merrick Garland’s Voting Rights Announcement

It’s been rough on the voting rights front these last few months, but on Friday, a little sun broke through the clouds.

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks about a jurys verdict in the case against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, at the Department of Justice on April 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew Harnik / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Attorney General Merrick Garland made an important speech outlining some actions the the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice would be taking to combat the attack on voting rights. He specifically mentioned the 14 states that have passed laws that make it harder to vote. He even referenced the SCOTUS decision back in 2013 that invalidated a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that opened to the door to a renewed rush of discriminatory actions.

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A ‘Statement Of Concern’

The actions of Republican state legislators to curtail absentee voting, limit days for early voting and seize control of local election boards have prompted 188 scholars to sign a “Statement of Concern: The Threats to American Democracy and the Need for National Voting and Election Administration Standards.” 

Their words are wise and prophetic …


Statement of Concern

The Threats to American Democracy and the Need for National Voting and Election Administration Standards

STATEMENT

June 1, 2021

We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy who have watched the recent deterioration of U.S. elections and liberal democracy with growing alarm. Specifically, we have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election. Collectively, these initiatives are transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections. Hence, our entire democracy is now at risk.

When democracy breaks down, it typically takes many years, often decades, to reverse the downward spiral. In the process, violence and corruption typically flourish, and talent and wealth flee to more stable countries, undermining national prosperity. It is not just our venerated institutions and norms that are at risk—it is our future national standing, strength, and ability to compete globally.

Statutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration, with Republican-controlled legislatures giving themselves the power to override electoral outcomes on unproven allegations should Democrats win more votes. They are seeking to restrict access to the ballot, the most basic principle underlying the right of all adult American citizens to participate in our democracy. They are also putting in place criminal sentences and fines meant to intimidate and scare away poll workers and nonpartisan administrators. State legislatures have advanced initiatives that curtail voting methods now preferred by Democratic-leaning constituencies, such as early voting and mail voting. Republican lawmakers have openly talked about ensuring the “purity” and “quality” of the vote, echoing arguments widely used across the Jim Crow South as reasons for restricting the Black vote.

State legislators supporting these changes have cited the urgency of “electoral integrity” and the need to ensure that elections are secure and free of fraud. But by multiple expert judgments, the 2020 election was extremely secure and free of fraud. The reason that Republican voters have concerns is because many Republican officials, led by former President Donald Trump, have manufactured false claims of fraud, claims that have been repeatedly rejected by courts of law, and which Trump’s own lawyers have acknowledged were mere speculation when they testified about them before judges.

In future elections, these laws politicizing the administration and certification of elections could enable some state legislatures or partisan election officials to do what they failed to do in 2020: reverse the outcome of a free and fair election. Further, these laws could entrench extended minority rule, violating the basic and longstanding democratic principle that parties that get the most votes should win elections.

Democracy rests on certain elemental institutional and normative conditions. Elections must be neutrally and fairly administered. They must be free of manipulation. Every citizen who is qualified must have an equal right to vote, unhindered by obstruction. And when they lose elections, political parties and their candidates and supporters must be willing to accept defeat and acknowledge the legitimacy of the outcome. The refusal of prominent Republicans to accept the outcome of the 2020 election, and the anti-democratic laws adopted (or approaching adoption) in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Montana and Texas—and under serious consideration in other Republican-controlled states—violate these principles. More profoundly, these actions call into question whether the United States will remain a democracy. As scholars of democracy, we condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms as a betrayal of our precious democratic heritage.

The most effective remedy for these anti-democratic laws at the state level is federal action to protect equal access of all citizens to the ballot and to guarantee free and fair elections. Just as it ultimately took federal voting rights law to put an end to state-led voter suppression laws throughout the South, so federal law must once again ensure that American citizens’ voting rights do not depend on which party or faction happens to be dominant in their state legislature, and that votes are cast and counted equally, regardless of the state or jurisdiction in which a citizen happens to live. This is widely recognized as a fundamental principle of electoral integrity in democracies around the world.

A new voting rights law (such as that proposed in the John Lewis Voting Rights Act) is essential but alone is not enough. True electoral integrity demands a comprehensive set of national standards that ensure the sanctity and independence of election administration, guarantee that all voters can freely exercise their right to vote, prevent partisan gerrymandering from giving dominant parties in the states an unfair advantage in the process of drawing congressional districts, and regulate ethics and money in politics.

It is always far better for major democracy reforms to be bipartisan, to give change the broadest possible legitimacy. However, in the current hyper-polarized political context such broad bipartisan support is sadly lacking. Elected Republican leaders have had numerous opportunities to repudiate Trump and his “Stop the Steal” crusade, which led to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Each time, they have sidestepped the truth and enabled the lie to spread.

We urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary—including suspending the filibuster—in order to pass national voting and election administration standards that both guarantee the vote to all Americans equally, and prevent state legislatures from manipulating the rules in order to manufacture the result they want. Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment.

Full list of signatories

A Brother’s response to Sen Manchin’s OpEd

I read Senator Joe Manchin’s OpEd in the Charleston Gazette-Mail and, like our friend Brosephus, under ordinary circumstances I would have agreed with most of what he said. However, these are anything but normal circumstances and even more so for Black people who are once again in danger of losing their rights. Please take a minute to read Brosephus’ post and think about what he says — it’s important! Thank you, Brosephus!

The Mind of Brosephus

Sen. Joe Manchin, I read your Op-Ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, and I have a few questions for you. You are well within your rights and responsibilities as a member of the Senate representing West Virginia with your concerns over the filibuster. In a perfect world, I think your arguments would have merit. In case you haven’t been paying attention for the past decade or so, we don’t live in a perfect world. In fact, Black Americans have never been within an Apollo rocket shot reach of a perfect world in America.

You may or may not be aware of the particular struggles of Black Americans, but I can assure you life here for us is no Saturday morning picnic. Our right to vote in America was enshrined into the Constitution in 1870 by the Fifteenth Amendment. It wasn’t until the passage of the Civil Rights Act…

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Was 2020 Just A Dress Rehearsal?

If you thought the chaos and violence that surrounded last year’s presidential election was bad, many speculate that what will happen in 2024 will make 2020 look like a walk in the park.  Take a look at what Washington Post editor Fred Hiatt has to say … a view that is shared by many political analysts today.


Voter suppression is bad. But this tactic is even worse.

Opinion by 

Fred Hiatt

Editorial page editor

President Donald Trump’s effort to steal the 2020 presidential election fell short. Now Republicans across the country are promoting changes to laws and personnel that could allow him — or someone like him — to succeed in 2024.

I’m not referring to the hundreds of GOP proposals in statehouses across the country that will make it harder for many people, in particular Black Democrats, to vote. Those measures are egregious and offensive. They are the strategy of a party that has given up on winning by putting forward more appealing policies and candidates and so hopes to win by keeping as many of its opponents away from the ballot box as possible.

What I’m talking about is in some ways even more insidious: an insurance policy to potentially steal the election if the vote-suppression strategy fails.

Recall Trump’s post-election campaign last fall. Having lost decisively, he thought he could pressure local and state officials to nullify the results.

He implored the Republican majority in the Pennsylvania legislature to defy their people’s will and appoint a slate of electors who would vote for him in Washington.

He urged the Georgia secretary of state to claim that Joe Biden’s victory there was fraudulent.

He pressured the Michigan Board of State Canvassers not to certify Biden’s clear victory in their state.

He failed because enough local officials had more integrity and courage than a majority of the Republican caucus in the U.S. House has mustered. The leaders of the Pennsylvania legislature said they didn’t have the authority to do what Trump was demanding. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger simply refused to go along. One of two Republicans on the Michigan board caved to the pressure, but the other, Aaron Van Langevelde, listened to his conscience, and his vote alongside the board’s two Democrats was enough to turn aside Trump’s attempted theft.

All of this was inspiring to many of us. To the anti-democracy forces ascendant in the Republican Party, it provided a challenge and a road map.

Michigan Republicans chose not to nominate Van Langevelde to another term. Raffensperger will face a primary challenge from an amplifier of Trump’s lies about election fraud, Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), who already has Trump’s endorsement.

“At the end of the day, there were good people on both sides of the aisle who were determined to protect people’s right to vote,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, said in a meeting with Post reporters and editors this month. “If those people change in 2022, then you have a scenario in 2024 where the good people who protected their states in 2020 aren’t there any more.”

Nor are the anti-democracy forces focused only on top officials. Another Democratic secretary of state, Arizona’s Katie Hobbs, told us that “people around the state are very worried that they’re going to come infiltrate poll workers in the next election.” The law requires a balance of Republicans and Democrats as poll workers — but, Hobbs noted, “it’s very easy to change your affiliation from R to D.”

As they target the people and positions that stood in their way last time, they also are attempting to change the rules, so a pro-Trump legislature could more easily override the will of the people — and the objections of any honest secretary of state who stood in the way.

“In 2021, state legislatures across the country — through at least 148 bills filed in 36 states — are moving to muscle their way into election administration, as they attempt to dislodge or unsettle the executive branch and/or local election officials who, traditionally, have run our voting systems.”

That is the conclusion of a recent report, “A Democracy Crisis in the Making,” by two nonpartisan organizations, States United Democracy Center and Protect Democracy, and a nonprofit law firm in Wisconsin, Law Forward.

“Had these bills been in place in 2020,” the report found, “they would have significantly added to the turmoil that surrounded the election, and they would have raised the alarming prospect that the outcome of the presidential election could have been decided contrary to how the people voted.”

One such measure was included in Georgia’s recent electoral “reform.” While many of us paid attention to the mean-spirited ban on giving water to people waiting in line — and understandably so — the intrusion of the legislature into the counting process could have far more nefarious consequences.

This is why it matters so much that Trump continues to lie about 2020, and that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and most of his party have abjectly surrendered to the lie. It’s not just about history. The lie is being used to give cover for actions that in 2024 could turn the big lie into the big steal.

A Pair Of Mini-Rants

I actually had three things to rant about today, but I ran out of time and space, so I shall have to save the third for another day …


Lies, Denials, and False Equivalencies

The Republicans who are falsely claiming that the attack on Congress and the Capitol on January 6th was little more than a bunch of tourists are doing this entire nation a disservice.  They are treating us as if we are too damn stupid to have seen and remembered what was right before our eyes.  On a normal tourist day, are five people killed?  On a normal tourist day, are 140 police officers injured?  On a normal tourist day, do the tourists crap on the floors of the Capitol building?  No, no, and no.  We are not that stupid, Mr. Clyde, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Gosar and the rest of you who are trying to pull the wool over our eyes!  Normal tourists do not break down doors with a battering ram to enter the building, nor do they break out windows or climb to the 2nd story from the outside like deranged Spidermen.  They do not carry guns into the Capitol.  They do not cause some $30 million worth of damage to property that does not belong to them, but rather belongs to We the People … We the People whose hard-earned tax dollars will have to pay to repair the damage.

It is my sincere hope that every single person who entered the Capitol uninvited on that day spend time in prison.  The most serious offenders should spend at least the next 20 years in a cell, giving them ample time to consider their perfidy.  Some claim that those who were just “swept up in the heat of the moment” should not be punished.  I disagree.  If they entered the Capitol, they broke the law.  If they were there, saw the violence, and stayed … they are not law-abiding citizens, not good people, and they must be punished, though granted at a lower level than those who destroyed, maimed, and killed.

Congress is in the process of establishing a ‘bipartisan’ commission to investigate the events of January 6th and those events that played a role leading up to the day.  A few Republicans are on board with this commission, however, they want to expand the scope of the investigation to include last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.  WHAT THE SAM HELL does the one have to do with the other?  Nothing, that’s what.  Black Lives Matter has become a scape goat for the Republican Party, a “whaddabout” issue for them to rebut any and all of their own wrongdoings.  If the Republicans in Congress wish to investigate Black Lives Matter protests, they certainly have the right to do so, but under a separate commission from the one that is established to investigate the murderous, treasonous events of January 6th.


Integrity???  HA HA HA … Don’t Make Me Laugh!

Isn’t it strange to hear Republicans speak of election ‘integrity’, when the very word ‘integrity’ has been erased from their vocabulary?  Honesty and integrity are a thing of the past that Republicans no longer adhere to, yet they claim to be the ones who are so concerned over the fairness and integrity of elections.  Their answer, of course, is to disenfranchise as many of the people who would vote against them as possible, such as Blacks, Hispanics, the poor, working single parents, the elderly, college students, and the disabled.  Get those people off the voter rolls and what’s left?  White dudes.

Trouble with that is that this is NOT a nation of only white dudes.  This is a salad bowl of many cultures and ethnicities, all of whom live and work here, all of whom pay taxes!  We have a right to a voice, too!  There was NO measurable voter fraud in the 2020 election … this has been proven in court cases, re-counts and audits too numerous to count.

Recently a few corporations have spoken out against the voter suppression bills being proposed or passed in nearly every single state, but … a funny thing happened on the way to the forum … they aren’t exactly backing up their words with their actions.  According to an article in Popular Information, a newsletter put out by Judd Legum …

Several large corporations that have recently issued public statements supporting voting rights — including Google, Deloitte, and Citigroup — are also funding and collaborating with a top Republican group advocating for new voter suppression laws. Internal documents obtained by Popular Information and Documented reveal the corporations participated in a “policy working group” on “election integrity” with the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), a party organization that is actively supporting new voter suppression bills. Participation in the roundtable required a minimum annual contribution of $15,000 to the RSLC.

For example, on March 31, Google’s SVP for Global Affairs, Kent Walker tweeted that the company is “concerned about efforts to restrict voting at a local level” and “strongly support[s] the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.”

A week later, Google’s State Policy Manager, Joe Dooley, was listed as a participant in a private RSLC policy working group led by the organization’s “Election Integrity Committee.” The April 6 presentation, obtained by Popular Information and Documented, details an array of proposals to suppress voting, including purging of voting lists, more stringent voter ID requirements, and targeting of voting centers. The RSLC also opposes any federal action to protect voting rights. The meeting was run by Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R), who has embraced Trump’s lies and conspiracies about election fraud. 

Can we say, “talking out of both sides of their collective mouths”?  More and more it seems that we are going to come to blows over this issue, for the people in this country are NOT going to simply sit back and say, “Oh, okay … we’ll give up our rights to vote and let the white dudes decide everything for us while we keep paying them.”  Well … some probably would, but NOT ME!