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Robert Reich: Beginning Of End Of Democracy As We Know It? – OpEd

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Sunday morning, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin announced in the Charleston Gazette-Mail that he’s a “no” on the For the People Act – and a no for ending the filibuster. 

This is a direct in-your-eye response to President Biden’s thinly-veiled criticism of Manchin last Tuesday in Tulsa. 

If it means the end of the For the People Act, it would open the way for Republican-dominated states to continue their shameless campaign to suppress the votes of likely Democratic voters – using Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud as pretext. That’s the beginning of the end of American democracy as we know it. 

Manchin’s support for extending the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to all fifty states is better than nothing, but it would depend on an activist Justice Department willing to block state changes in voting laws that suppress votes, and an activist Supreme Court willing to uphold such Justice Department decisions. 

Don’t bet on either. We know what happened to the Justice Department under Trump, and we know what’s happened to the Supreme Court.

So without Manchin, is the For the People Act dead? Probably, unless Biden can convince one Republican senator to join him in supporting it. 

Would Mitt Romney or Lisa Murkowski or Susan Collins be willing to do so and buck the voter-suppressing, Trump-dominated GOP? Or will history record that Republican senators were more united in their opposition to democracy than Democratic senators are in their support for it? 

The optimist in me says Romney will do it because he’s an institutionalist who’s appalled the authoritarianism that Trump has unleashed in the GOP. The cynical realist in me says no way. 

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

5 thoughts on “Robert Reich: Beginning Of End Of Democracy As We Know It? – OpEd

  • June 7, 2021 at 6:58 am
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    Your assessment is right, and also very disturbing. It leaves me with a feeling of hopelessness. And great despair of where our country is and where it is heading. Right over a cliff

    Reply
  • June 7, 2021 at 7:21 am
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    I agree! Joe Biden is living in a bye gone era. And he playing games with millions of people lives because the Authoritarian party. The Democratic Party is playing games. Bipartisan ship yeah right.

    Reply
  • June 7, 2021 at 12:56 pm
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    It isn’t the end of democracy it is protecting it. As usual the left has it backwards.

    Reply
    • June 8, 2021 at 2:49 pm
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      Seriously? Yes, you definitely have way more knowledge and insight than one of the greatest economists of our time. Let me see my choice: believe some guy, who believes the Big Lie and sides with a pathological liar, or a trusted economist with decades of experience and deeper insight than most people could even begin to understand. Yeah, I’m gonna’ go with the little orange man’s guy. SMH.

      Reply
  • June 7, 2021 at 4:37 pm
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    The authoritarian shift in American Democracy is not a sudden event. Rather, it is an inevitable outcome of both political parties’ policies over the last three decades that have ignored those left behind by deindustrialization (remember Ross Perot’s 1992 “great sucking sound” declaration of industrial job losses), embrace of new technologies without moderating effects of collective bargaining agreements, US Fed policies that have exacerbated inequality with astounding stock market valuations, widening rural-urban divide that has reinforced religious fanaticism, anti-evidence based public policies of early 2000s, political alliances with global autocrats, US Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizen’s United decision, and the abrupt decline in confidence in national media that criticizes dominant political and economic interests. While TrumpRepublicans are the most vocal and visible in the mobilization and justification of anti-democratic forces, the moral hubris of the Democratic discourse must also be held accountable in widening the intractable political divide that is too often framed as the conflict between declining “minority” central cities and prosperous “white” suburban growth centers.

    Reply

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