Commentary

Biden told us what we already know about the MAGA assault on voting rights. Now to stop it | Dick Polman

July 19, 2021 6:30 am

President Joe Biden delivers a speech on voting rights at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pa., on Tuesday, 7/13/21 (MSNBC Screen Capture)

President Joe Biden’s delivered a very nice speech in Philadelphia last week about the MAGA Republican plot to destroy democracy. But there was one big problem.

Dick Polman Cagle Syndicate photo

“The 2020 election – it’s not hyperbole to suggest – (was) the most examined and the fullest expression of the will of the people in the history of this nation. This should be celebrated – the example of America at its best. But instead, we continue to see an example of human nature at its worst – something darker and more sinister.”

This we know.

“The denial of full and free and fair elections is the most un-American thing that any of us can imagine, the most undemocratic, the most unpatriotic …”

This we know.

“This broad assault against voting rights…is taking on new and literally pernicious forms.”

This we know.

“This is election subversion. It’s the most dangerous threat to voting and the integrity of free and fair elections in our history.”

This we know.

“There is an unfolding assault taking place in America today – an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote in fair and free elections, an assault on democracy, an assault on liberty, an assault on who we are as Americans. For, make no mistake, bullies and merchants of fear and peddlers of lies are threatening the very foundation of our country.”

This we know.

“We’re are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War.”

This we know. All this, we already know. But what are you gonna do about it?

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“Time and again, we’ve weathered threats to the right to vote in free and fair elections. And each time, we found a way to overcome. And that’s what we must do today.”

OK, how?

“We must pass the For the People Act. It’s a national imperative.”

OK, how?

As soon as Congress passes the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, I will sign it and let the whole world see it. That will be an important moment.”

OK, how?

“We’re going to face another test in 2002, a new wave of unprecedented voter suppression, raw and sustained election subversion. We have to prepare now.”

OK, how?

See, this is the enduring problem with Democrats. They seize the moral high ground, often with great eloquence. But unlike their craven opponents, all too often they bring squirt guns to a shooting war.

By nature Democrats prefer to play nice, somehow believing that honeyed words will dissipate evil. They prefer to follow the rules rather than bend them to best advantage. They shrink from using muscle. That’s laudable on many levels, but the problem right now is they’re confronted with a cult that worships nothing but brute power.

Nowhere in his speech did Biden even suggest that perhaps the Senate Democrats should explore the possibility of carving out an exception to the filibuster – which, by dint of reactionary tradition, prevents the chamber from passing crucial voting rights bills with a simple majority. The filibuster appears nowhere in the Constitution, yet Biden continues to revere it despite the fact that we’re in the midst of a constitutional emergency.

The Republicans basically stole two Supreme Court seats by eliminating the filibuster rule for high court nominations (just 51 votes are needed to confirm, no more 60-vote threshold). But somehow, when democracy itself is imperiled, the filibuster rule is still deemed sacrosanct by the president who’s sounding the alarm.

So instead of muscle, we’re still getting mush:

“We will be asking my Republican friends – in Congress, in states, in cities, in counties – to stand up, for God’s sake, and help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our elections and the sacred right to vote. Have you no shame?”

Um, no. This we already know.

Opinion contributor Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. His work appears on Mondays on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. Readers may email him at [email protected].

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