OP-ED: A house divided against itself cannot stand
I listened intently this morning as our 46e President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the nation from Statuary Hall to celebrate the first anniversary of last year’s insurgency. I found myself reflecting on the attack on Pearl Harbor which plunged us into a global war against a tyrannical foreign power.
Eighty years later, tyranny threatens America again, this time with a domestic attack. A president and his facilitators have created a narrative and instigated a âbig lieâ that continues. He instigated a violent mob to attack our seat of government and disrupt the certification of free and fair election results which he lost by more than 7 million votes.
President Franklin Roosevelt called the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, “a day that will live in infamy.” World War II lasted almost 4 years. January 6, 2021 sparked a shameful and vile internal conflict, and it remains to be seen how long it will last.
Over the past year, we have seen loyalists from the 45e The President strives to untie the threads that hold the fabric of our representative democracy together. His supporters, fueled by a constant regime of disinformation, harassed and intimidated election officials across the country, prompting many to step down out of fear for themselves and their families.
Republican officials, fearing to be dominated by loyalists of the “45”, embrace his “big lie” and enact legislation that they believe will appease him. States with Republican governors and legislatures are passing laws and elaborate redistribution plans to ensure the election of like-minded faithful and remove government control from anyone who does not adhere to its tyrannical whims. According to the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice, 19 states have enacted 34 election laws that restrict or suppress voting. Some to make it easier for local officials to overturn election results they don’t like.
The right to vote is the most fundamental thread of our democratic fabric. Without it, our democracy collapses. Currently, 50 Republicans in the United States Senate, aided and abetted by two Democrats, are blocking votes on two key voting rights bills, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.
John R. Lewis’s Advancement of Voting Rights Act essentially updates the formula that, since the enactment of the Voters’ Rights Act 1965, triggers a pre-clearance process by the Department of Justice or a federal court if a jurisdiction seeks to make changes to its passing laws. In 2013, this preclearance formula was declared obsolete by the United States Supreme Court and Congress was asked to update the formula.
The House responded by holding more than a dozen hearings by two separate committees and passed subsequent legislation that was sent to the Senate. Sadly, all Senate Republicans except Senator Lisa Murkowski are standing in the way. Two Democrats comforted Republicans on this issue and one, Senator Joe Manchin, proposed the Freedom to Vote Act, seeking to garner bipartisan support for many of the provisions of the law passed by the House for the people.
The legislation includes provisions protecting election security, reforming campaign finance, ensuring fair redistribution and preventing voter cancellation. Despite Senator Manchin’s attempts to appease, not a single Republican voted to allow the Freedom to Vote Act to run for a vote.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to put both bills to another vote by January 17eDr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vacation His efforts, however, appear doomed without a change to Senate filibuster rules that require 60 votes to shut down debate.
While bipartisanship is welcome and may be preferable, history informs us that the 15th Amendment, giving black people the right to vote, was passed on a party line vote. And who would say the 15th Amendment shouldn’t have passed because it didn’t have bipartisan support?
I am not a fan of filibuster. But, while it is important for most of the Senate to stick to this tradition, I maintain that exceptions on constitutional matters such as voting should apply. An exception is used for tax matters to ensure that the full faith and credit of the United States is not compromised by a filibuster. The process is called âreconciliationâ, a term which I believe applies more correctly to the Constitution than to the budget.
The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt spoke these words: “No matter how long it takes to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteousness will win.” He continued, “I affirm that not only will we defend ourselves to the end, but that we will ensure that this form of betrayal will never put us in danger again.” America was victorious. Our democracy and our friends and allies have been saved from tyranny.
Today’s challenge is no less perilous. To reject the gravity of this moment is to endorse the insidious nature of the “Big Lie”. Our best protection is to ensure that the foundations of our democracy stand. Like our 16e The president boasted during another difficult time, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”