One of the more pointless examples of pure political theater came to a head yesterday when the ridiculously-named 900-page “For The People Act” was successfully filibustered and killed in the U.S. Senate.
“Once again Senate Republicans have signed their names in the ledger of history alongside Donald Trump, the big lie and voter suppression to their enduring disgrace. … But I want to be very clear about one thing: The fight to protect voting rights is not over, by no means,” Schumer said after the vote, calling the GOP filibuster “ridiculous and awful.”
“Make no mistake about it, it will not be the last time voting rights comes up for a debate in the Senate. … We have several serious options for how to reconsider this issue and advance legislation to combat voter suppression. We are going to explore every last one of our options,” Schumer added.
Democrats didn’t immediately detail how they would try to revive voting rights legislation and they face a big lift to get anything through the Senate given that the legislative filibuster requires 60 votes, meaning at least the support of 10 GOP senators, in order to advance and ultimately pass most legislation.
Republicans rejected not only the original version of the sweeping 800-page bill but also a slimmed-down version circulated as a framework by centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who spearheaded the For the People Act, predicted that Democrats would keep negotiating.
“The next step is continuing to work the dialogue between the 50 senators … and evaluate the next approach,” Merkley said.
In a way, this is a classic case of how the Left operates – there’s a clear reality to be dealt with, in this case that being the fact the Senate is split 50-50, and a fairly obvious path toward dealing with that reality, which in this case is to find ways to pick off a requisite number of persuadable Republicans through whatever means, and yet they choose to operate in grandiose and unworkable ways in pursuit of an alternate reality nobody but them wants.
The concept of requiring a photo ID to vote is not controversial. Really, it isn’t. Almost everybody in America – some 80 percent, according to multiple polls on the subject – thinks it’s entirely appropriate to require the production of an ID for accessing the ballot. Everybody gets that this is the single easiest and most effective way to stop vote fraud. Majorities in black and Hispanic communities agree.
And yet white leftists insist that voter ID requirements are racist because “black and brown” people can’t get ID’s.
To which black and brown people say, “Thanks for patronizing me, but I’ve had an ID since I turned 18.”
Everybody knows the game here, though. Everybody knows the opposition to voter ID isn’t a sincere concern for the civil liberties of the poor and the minorities; it’s to facilitate the stuffing of the ballot box in areas Democrats control completely.
Anyone who denies this is lying.
And the fact that the first thing the Democrats did after pulling off Biden’s election and perfecting that double coup in the Georgia Senate races – made possible by dumb mistakes committed by an outraged Donald Trump, who let conservative voters in Georgia believe their votes don’t matter, and worse mistakes by atrocious Republican consultants working on the campaigns of David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler – was to bring the For The People Act and attempt to ram it through Congress.
Why do that?
A number of reasons, but two in particular.
First, the idea of nationalizing elections along the lines of the failed 2020 presidential election, together with unaccountable mail-in ballots and protracted vote counts to create exploitable chaos coast to coast, isn’t just for 2024. It’s for preventing what looks like the inevitable in 2022.
Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in the House honestly thought they were going to gain seats last November. They didn’t. They came within a half-dozen races of losing their House majority altogether. And now it’s fairly obvious the 2022 midterms will deliver a Republican majority which will hold for a while in all likelihood, because Republican legislatures will lock it in through redistricting plans this year and next year.
Which will signify not just the end of the Democrats’ legislative agenda, but – given the changing nature of the GOP away from the do-nothing Bush-Boehner baby boomer model toward something more aggressive and less married to the Washington status quo – the real possibility of rolling back some of the worst abuses of the current Beltway regime. During Trump’s four years in office there were federal agencies moving out of Washington. It’s possible to conceive of some being reorganized, merged, even disbanded in the not-too-distant future, and should that happen the implements of political power the Democrats have as their lifeblood will melt away.
Absolutely anything they could possibly do to stave that off is fair game. Creating a national election standard which allows inner-city ballot stuffing to rig elections across the country would institutionalize the means of Biden’s 2020 victory and keep the Democrats’ House majority, they think. Or at least, they don’t have a better idea in mind.
The second reason is pure cynicism.
They knew they could only pass this thing if they could get enough Republican senators – the Lisa Murkowskis, Bill Cassidys and Mitt Romneys of the world – to cave on it and vote for it. That’s why they put the Capitol behind a razor-wire wall and guarded it with thousands of National Guard troops. They were busy trying to scare the weak Republicans into believing the lie that Jan. 6 was a real attempt by “white supremacists” to destroy American democracy.
The problem with that narrative is that it was far too fanciful ever to really be taken seriously by anyone not addicted to Twitter. Call Jan. 6 an “insurrection” all you want, but when not a single participant is arrested on a weapons charge it doesn’t quite ring true to say those protesters were trying to overthrow the American government. They thought the election was stolen, using the precise means the Democrats want to institutionalize in the For The People Act, and they came to show how pissed off they were over that. But Jan. 6 was a whole lot more peaceful than anything we saw in Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis or any of the other Democrat-run cities which were lit ablaze last year.
To call it an “insurrection” and to demand capitulation on election integrity because you saw something nasty in the woodshed, was never going to work. It was a Hail Mary pass from the standpoint of trying to govern. It wasn’t even a good idea from the standpoint of enforcing discipline. Sometimes you run a bill you realize isn’t going to pass just to put people on the record on the issue; it’s a good means of knowing who needs a primary opponent in the next cycle. But this wasn’t even that.
What it’s good for is placating the Hard Left and doing a whole bunch of fundraising off calling Republicans names.
Consider the statement of the DNC’s chairman, Jaime Harrison. You’ll remember him – he raised $100 million to run against Lindsey Graham in South Carolina last year and nevertheless got pummeled 55-45. Here’s what Harrison said after the Cassidys and Murkowskis and Romneys decided to stick with their party yesterday…
“Today’s vote is yet another demonstration that the Republican Party is determined to undermine our democracy by restricting voting rights. While Democrats are united in moving forward to protect the fundamental right that serves as the foundation of our democracy, every last Republican senator voted against even debating the issue. Here’s what they don’t want to talk about: the fact that Republicans are pursuing a power grab through their coordinated effort, aided by dark money groups, to suppress voters across the country because they know the only way they can win is to cheat. This fight is far from over. I will do everything in my power so that my two sons don’t have to fight the same battles my grandparents did to make their voices heard as Black people in South Carolina. Democrats will continue to work around the clock to protect the right to vote because the fate of our democracy hangs in the balance.”
It’s one of the most thoroughly dishonest statements ever made in the history of American politics, but it’s made for the sole purpose of pandering to the Hard Left who actually believe this garbage. It’s made for the purpose of demonizing Republicans, because that’s literally all they have left.
And the next step in this Bizarro World regime’s continued bumbling attempts to rule rather than govern is to kill the filibuster entirely.
That they’d regret doing so as soon as two years from now doesn’t even seem to faze them. Stripping the filibuster from the nomination of federal judges enabled Trump to remake the entire federal judiciary, but they learned nothing from that.
But what’s worse is that what’s stopping them from killing the filibuster is opposition from Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema, who know damned well that they’d lose their Senate seats in West Virginia and Arizona, respectively, at the next election if they went along with this.
Efforts to kill the filibuster will shear off Manchin and Sinema in the same way the GOP has alienated Romney and Murkowski and made them unreliable for party-line votes. The difference being that if Murkowski or Romney were to lose re-election it would almost assuredly come at the hands of another Republican, but in the case of Manchin and Sinema there are almost literally no other Democrats who could win in those states.
You have to have some fidelity to your base. That’s a sure rule of politics. But you also have to do what’s possible. Today’s Democrats are so divorced from reality and so bent on pandering to the lunatics they’ve allowed to become the core of their party that they don’t even know how to govern.
Which is all right. We’re better off having them fail than succeed. And they’re failing.