A Critical Two Weeks for Our Democracy

Alan Zendell, January 4, 2022

As a patriotic American, I don’t know which is more embarrassing, a Senate that is unable to come up with fifty votes to assure that every American is able to vote, thus preserving the main bulwark of democracy, or a former president who is clearly guilty of planning and directing an insurrection against Congress, and still continues to tear the country apart with lies, a year later. As to the latter, I cannot imagine any former president since the Great Depression who would have stooped as low as Trump in his lust to retain power. Even Richard Nixon would not have done so, and more importantly, his Republican majority in the Senate, led by Barry Goldwater, would have stopped him.

Don’t ever let a Trump supporter get away with calling him or herself a Conservative. Real Conservatives know where to draw the line between political self-interest and the interests of the nation. They understand that we have prospered and grown strong over two-and-a-half centuries because of our Constitution, not in spite of it. Trump would tear it up and write a new one designed to create a safe haven for a power-mad, sociopathic emperor.

I’ve been waiting for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to make his move on passing a national voting rights bill that will supersede the efforts by Republican controlled states to rig future elections in their favor. That’s something that cannot be put off until the last minute. Despite the media hype about Trump controlling the Republican Party, I have never lost confidence that in the end, the Senate would get its act together and do the right thing.

Conventional wisdom says Schumer’s biggest challenge will be getting West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin on board to allow a voting rights bill to avoid an endless filibuster. He also needs Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema to agree, but to date, she hasn’t been willing to put herself on the line publicly in a definitive way. The same conventional wisdom suggests she will go along with any deal Manchin makes with Schumer and the President.

My confidence in the Senate is such that I wouldn’t be shocked if there’s another John McCain or Jeff Flake lurking in the weeds, a Republican who is a true Conservative who values principle and the Constitution more than loyalty to Donald Trump. To me, the most important moment in the Trump administration was when McCain gave Trump the proverbial finger and shot down the Republican attempt to kill Obamacare. I think it can happen again and very well might. With the future of democracy in the balance, even Mitch McConnell might see the light, at least enough to allow someone in his caucus to choose voting equality.

Schumer sent a letter to his Senate colleagues informing them that if by January 17th, Republicans still line up unanimously to obstruct a voting rights bill, he will attack the filibuster. That’s a very bold commitment, which was undoubtedly made in consultation with President Biden. Schumer is a skillful enough politician that he’d never box himself in that way if something weren’t happening behind the scenes to make him believe he would succeed. Since the Senate seems uncharacteristically leak-proof on this issue, it could be any number of things. It’s no coincidence that the time period targeted by Schumer begins with the anniversary of the January 6th attack on the Congress and the public hearings that will be conducted by the Special House Committee, and ends with Martin Luther King’s birthday. The symbolism is far from subtle, an indication that Schumer has pulled out all the stops to get the bill passed.

My favorite hypothesis is that Joe Manchin, who is really in a tough spot as a Democratic Senator in a state that went two-thirds for Trump, will ultimately not allow Republicans to retain power indefinitely through lies, gerrymandering, and preventing whole populations from voting. I believe Manchin has the kind of principles John McCain had. He will continue to negotiate down to the wire to get the best possible deal on Biden’s Build Back Better legislation, and that may be the leverage Schumer needs to get him on board with voting rights.

Build Back Better is important. It’s expensive, but unlike the equally expensive Trump tax cut that mostly benefitted billionaires, it is aimed at improving the lives of ordinary people. Important as that is, it pales in significance compared to preserving voting rights for every American. Whatever Schumer and Biden have to give up to reach Manchin’s $1.5 trillion benchmark, it’s a price worth paying to gain his support for suspending the filibuster.

My gut tells me it’s doable, and I think it will happen.

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2 Responses to A Critical Two Weeks for Our Democracy

  1. Andrew says:

    I’ll be calling my Senators to encourage them to do the right thing

  2. Alab says:

    It might be better to call someone else’s Senators, Yours aren’t part of the problem.

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