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Robert Reich: How To Stop Republicans From Stealing Elections – OpEd

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Republican-controlled state legislatures have introduced over 361 voter suppression bills in 47 states, and some states, like Georgia, have already enacted them into law. 

There’s only one way to stop this assault on our democracy. It’s called the FOR THE PEOPLE ACT, and the window for Congress to pass it is closing.

These Republican voter suppression bills are egregious —they shrink early voting periods, add onerous voter ID requirements, limit eligibility for mail-in ballots, ban ballot drop boxes and drive-through voting, and even make it a crime to give voters in line water.

The FOR THE PEOPLE ACT, on the other hand, would prevent these tactics and make it easier to vote. In addition, gerrymandering would be reduced and the power of small political donors would be amplified.

It could not come at a more critical time.

The Republican assault on our democracy is based on the lie that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Multiple recounts in battleground states like Georgia found nothing. Investigations by the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department found nothing. 61 out of 62 courts found nothing.

Republicans claim they’re just listening to the concerns of their voters and restoring “trust” in our elections. Rubbish. The real purpose of these restrictions is to hamper voting by Black people, people of color, young people, and lower-income Americans. 

After Black voters and organizers in Georgia flipped the state blue for the first time in decades, the GOP is pulling out all the stops to prevent the same from happening in other states. The situation is even more dire given the upcoming once-in-a-decade redistricting process, allowing Republican-controlled states to further gerrymander congressional districts.

Their assault on the right to vote is a coordinated, national strategy led by top party leaders and outside dark-money advocacy groups like the Heritage Foundation. That group is working directly with state legislatures to provide them with “model legislation” and gearing up to spend $24 million in eight states to advance these bills ahead of the midterms.

Unless the FOR THE PEOPLE ACT becomes law, these restrictive state bills will go into effect before the upcoming 2022 midterm elections, and entrench Republican power for  years to come. So it’s essential we protect voting rights now, while we still can. 

This is not a partisan fight. It’s a battle between forces that want to go backward to an era of Jim Crow, and the majority of Americans who want to build a more inclusive democracy.

Yet the FOR THE PEOPLE ACT faces an uphill battle in the Senate because of the archaic filibuster rule that requires a 60-vote supermajority to pass legislation.

The good news is Senate Democrats have the power to end the filibuster and thereby allow the FOR THE PEOPLE ACT to become law. It’s time for Democrats to unite on this, without hesitation. 

The stakes could not be higher. Simply put, it’s democracy or authoritarianism.

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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, and writes at robertreich.substack.com. Reich 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.

One thought on “Robert Reich: How To Stop Republicans From Stealing Elections – OpEd

  • April 29, 2021 at 12:48 am
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    From a time even before the ratification of the US constitution, the issue of local and state control vs. encroaching federal power has been at the center of US political history. But the idea that within that long-standing debate, state power is somehow an assault on democracy has only been thoroughly correct with regard to the blockage of the right to vote by Black people. Jim Crow laws were then, an abomination. But the very idea that modern state laws — requiring legal identification in order for any citizen to vote, as an equivalent phenomenon to Jim Crow — is an example of racist paternalism at its liberal worst. I’m neither a conservative nor a liberal. In fact, I vote as an independent. But the current left-wing penchant to distill all political reality into racial categories has begun to push this independent voter away from the Democratic Party camp. Such voter identification was never a problem during the two election victories of Barack Obama. So why is it a problem now? In my state, It has always been a requirement to show proper photo I.D. in order to register and vote. In an age of vast illegal immigration, anything less would be an example of ballot-stuffing, not ballot suppression. But what is most galling, is the underlying supposition that normal US citizens are somehow denied freedom because they are forced to provide valid proof that they are, who they say they are. I submit that anyone who argues such nonsense is attempting a form of voter corruption. And in the case of voting without identification, who could possibly believe that any election would be a valid indication of who truly won or lost? And without a clear understanding that our US elections are not only fair, but totally without any form of ballot-rigging, is essential for the proper establishment of democracy. In fact, it is simply impossible to conduct a constitutionally-based Republic — with any degree of faith in its necessary and essential construction — without basic and proper voter identification. Anything less, could be logically construed as an example of an attempt at a one-party state. In this regard, election laws are best constructed on the local level, where far greater voter leverage can be applied. If race becomes a legitimate issue, the Supreme Court of the United States is the place to decide if modern state laws are examples of the old Jim Crow ones. Does the Democratic Party NOT have faith in the integrity of our highest court to assure non-racist outcomes? If this be the case, said political party, has ceased from being an organ of a long-standing democratic-republic, and has morphed into something unrecognizable. As Democratic Senator Manchin of West Virginia recently said: “Pushing through Federal legislation (on election law) of this magnitude (HR 1), on a partisan basis, may garner short-term benefits, but will only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the US government”. I totally agree. Manchin is an example of a Democrat politician that this independent could certainly vote for. But what has happened to the rest of the Democrats? Will they pack the Supreme Court in order to evade the amendment process? Will they try to end the long-standing filibuster? And how far will their party go in its attempt to destroy the legitimate constitutional power of state and local government? We, independents, want to know.

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