The attack against voting rights intensifies much like the attack against workplace protections, healthcare equity, and climate justice
Restrictions of voting rights began well before the last election cycle in the United States, but those anti-democratic efforts have escalated dramatically since now-President Joseph Biden won the last election. The voter-suppression efforts at the State and Local levels have become increasingly aggressive because, among other reasons, President Biden received the most votes of a Presidential candidate ever: over 81 million votes. That President Biden achieved such a resounding victory based on the strong support of people of color underscores why the newly imposed limitations on voting rights at the State and Local levels raise serious civil rights concerns.
Progressive leaders in the United States House of Representatives responded to the attack against democratic representation in the nation by passing 2 voting rights bills, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (named after the late, great civil rights icon and United States Representative) and the Freedom to Vote Act to restore and expand the Voting Rights Act that has been eviscerated by recent United States Supreme Court decisions. Despite a clear majority of people across the country supporting this fundamental civil rights legislation, the United States Senate failed to approve the 2 voting rights bills. The shocking but not surprising outcome happened because 2 Democratic United States Senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, joined all 50 Republican United States Senators to oppose ending the so-called filibuster. By endorsing the Republican United States Senators’ use of the filibuster, Democratic United States Senators Manchin and Sinema prevented a vote on the 2 civil rights bills that Senators Manchin and Sinema said they support. In other words, the 2 voting rights bills would be law now if Democratic United States Senators Manchin and Sinema had not embraced the filibuster here.
Importantly, the 50 Democrats in the United States Senate represent approximately 40 million more people than the 50 Republicans in the Senate, and the filibuster has been used by a small minority of Congressmembers for decades and most often to deprive people of color and others of fundamental civil rights. In short, an anti-democratic institution (the United States Senate) has once again used an anti-democratic tactic (the filibuster) to thwart the popular will. Earlier this Congressional session, the same thing happened to the Build Back Better Act. Like the 2 voting rights bills just defeated, the Build Back Better Act has broad public support across party lines because, among other things, it would promote greater workplace democracy and fairness via union representation and other employment protections, broader healthcare coverage, and meaningful action to address the climate emergency. That Democratic United States Senators Manchin and Sinema chose to side with all 50 Republican United States Senators and against the public interest regarding both the Build Back Better Act and the 2 voting rights bills makes sense, however, when considering the enormous sums of corporate campaign money on which Senators Manchin and Sinema have cultivated and depended for years.