John Colson: Support the Freedom to Vote Act

John Colson
Hit & Run

I feel I have to ask if you, as a reader and participant in the U.S. electoral shuffle, really care what’s happening to our election apparatus as a direct result of the Big Lie offered up by our former president and his supporters — the Big Lie, of course, being that Donald J. Trump insists he won the 2020 presidential election despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

I ask because the embattled Democrats of the U.S. Congress seemingly have come up with proposed legislation to protect citizens’ right to vote no matter what the other side of the aisle (Republicans, that is) does to undermine our entire electoral system.

The proposal, known as the Freedom to Vote Act, was introduced by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and has been endorsed by Sen. Joe Manchin, the coal-loving West Virginia Democrat who in truth is a Republican in everything but formal party affiliation.

Manchin and his equally two-faced compatriot, Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have been instrumental in blocking prior voting-rights legislation known as the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. And both Manchin and Sinema have been at the fore of Senate opposition to getting rid of the filibuster, a politically and morally corrupt holdover from the Jim Crow era that requires a 60-vote majority for many types of legislation before the U.S. Senate and which has effectively buried any progressive legislation in that chamber for years.

Manchin and Sinema’s support for keeping the filibuster, I believe, stems mostly from their fear that dumping the filibuster would pose a threat to their current status as power brokers who essentially control much of what the senate, with its 50-50 partisan stalemate, does right now (before the present situation arose, they were both relatively unknown).

Anyway, Klobuchar’s bill has won the support of Manchin, and it is up to us, the voters, to let Manchin, Sinema and every other politician with a dog in this fight konw that this bill should be passed immediately and without hesitation. That’s because it’s likely the best voting-rights legislation we can possibly get in this session of Congress, and as such it is critically needed to cut off the ongoing effort by the Grand Old Party to completely destabilize our political system and our national experiment in democracy.

The Republican Party, as most observers are well aware, has been busy passing legislation in every state controlled by their party. The last count I saw, on the Ballotpedia website, was a total of 61 chambers in state legislative bodies, for a total of about 23 states.

And this legislative blunderbuss is directly designed to make it harder for people of color, students and Democrats to vote in state and national elections — in other words, to suppress the votes of everyone but Republicans.

I have to point out that, with our nation’s politics split somewhat evenly in terms of Dems versus Republicans, it has been the Republicans who have figured out that by rigging the game through gerrymandering and other suppression tactics, they can effectively make the U.S. over into a one-party state, at least in the short run.

Don’t get me wrong, I know full well that Dems have tried their hand at gerrymandering as a way of controlling who gets elected and of ensuring Democrats get voted into office more often than Republicans.

But the Democrats, for whatever reason, are not as good at cheating as the Republicans. Perhaps that is a consequence of mere incompetence, or perhaps it is because Democrats are by nature not as unified in their determination to hold onto power as Republicans are.

Along those same lines, and this is my preferred rationale for this imbalance, perhaps it is simply that Republicans are more ruthless in their determination to achieve and hold power than Democrats, largely because Republicans have been a minority party for much or our country’s recent political history. And they have not liked that minority status one bit, which has led them to the conclusion that if the only way they can win is by cheating, then the cheat is on.

This unfortunate state of affairs is a very complex thing, which must be viewed alongside our nation’s racist history, not to mention our nation’s obscene wealth disparity between the haves and the have-nots, which has grown by leaps and bounds in recent decades.

Need I add that the GOP, by and large, is the party of the “haves” while the Democratic Party, the Greens and other “independent” party alignments make up the bulk of the “have-nots?”

So, we now have a piece of legislation, flawed and far from sufficient for our real needs, but which could act to prevent Republicans from destroying democracy as we know it. It is time we let our representatives know that we want to see it passed, and right now, if only as a first step toward a more comprehensive solution in the future.

Because if we fail to get even this watered-down compromise act made into law, we may well be heading into truly unknown territory, in which our chosen two-party system, flawed as it is, will be upended for years, perhaps decades, as the result of a Big Lie and an even bigger cheat.

So make some phone calls, send some emails, donate some money in support of the Freedom to Vote Act, or watch the dire consequences roll over our nation.

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