It’s far past time we start to hold the GOP accountable, especially as it pertains to The For the People Act, already passed as H.R. 1in the House, and S. 1, its mostly similar companion legislation pending in the Senate. It’s a simple question that needs to be asked: Why on earth are you against this piece of legislation?
Because once you take a look at it, you can only wonder what it is that keeps our GOP friends in Congress from supporting the bill. Because, folks, this bill will transform our politics for generations to come if it were to become law. And for the better.
The opportunity to truly remake our democracy in the 21st century is within our grasp. Failure to capitalize is not an option. Yes, we can talk about Senator Joe Manchin, if you’d like, because who in the hell knows where he stands on the issue? He seemingly changes his views daily. Unfortunately, his outsized influence on the whole process is the wild card. A 50/50 Senate split, where he ultimately comes down on the bill, may ultimately decide its fate.
However, the real problem here is not Joe Manchin. It’s the continued obstructionist ways of Senator Mitch McConnell and the rest of the GOP who keep inhibiting anything of consequence from getting done. Over and over, the answer is mostly an emphatic no – with the usual explanation being that they must stop the radical socialist Biden agenda.
Forgive our Republican friends for their hyperbole. The truth is, Biden’s agenda targets America’s working-class and lower-end wage earners. They can call it what they want if it makes them happy. Quite frankly, anything that helps this particular segment of society should be welcomed by the GOP. Unfortunately, they’d rather scapegoat and call people names.
But the For the People Act cuts right to the heart of our democracy. It’s also something the GOP ought to support. Once again, though, they have no interest. The bottom line is this: Are we going to make it easier for people to vote and make their voices heard? Or do we let the GOP take a sledgehammer to voting rights and send us back to the days before landmark Voting and Civil Rights legislation in the 60s?
As the Brennan Center points out in their exhaustive look at the bill, our democracy urgently needs repair. And The For the People Act is an honest attempt to do just that by installing guardrails and rules of the road that will prevent the GOP from taking us back to an era they seem to hold so dear to their hearts; the one where white people called the shots, especially those with wealth and influence.
And it’s why this particular legislation is giving them all fits. It goes right to what’s been so wrong with our government and our politics for decades now. The bigwigs like things the way they are. They want to give as much as they want, to who they want and don’t want you or me to know about it.
And it’s precisely why H.R 1 and S. 1 are so important. Not only does the bill provide a backstop to all the voter suppression bills recently introduced in statehouses throughout the country, but it also puts harsher transparency rules in place that people like Charles Koch and the like despise. Could we be on to something here?
In a nutshell, the bill would make it easier to register to vote and cast a ballot. It would also outlaw partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, overhaul our campaign finance laws, combat corruption, and make federal campaign spending more transparent.
Sounds pretty good, right? Surely our friends on one side of the aisle couldn’t be against any of these proposals. Unfortunately, yes, they are, and all you need to do is look at some of the bogus talking points to get a feel of where they stand.
“This bill is nothing short of a federal takeover of elections.” “The bill is a naked partisan power grab by Democrats.” “It will allow non-citizens and people under 18 to vote.” “It will open the door to voter fraud.” “It will funnel taxpayer money to politicians and foment political extremism.”
And on and on it goes. The fact is that none of those talking points are valid. State and local election officials will still conduct the elections, just with more rules in place to ensure they’re fairer and more transparent. People under 18 will not be able to vote, but they will be able to pre-register.
Nothing in this bill allows non-citizens to vote. Voter fraud is essentially non-existent and has been for decades. Finally, all the bill does is create a voluntary small-donor matching system for federal elections, which would give candidates a way to fundraise without relying on mega-wealthy donors. Speculating that this would somehow encourage a sort of ideological extremist empowerment is ridiculous.
But perhaps the one thing that gnaws at the GOP the most as it pertains to this bill is that it will require more transparency in campaign spending. In other words, The For the People Act would permanently rid our election system of dark money, closing loopholes that allow political groups to spend without limits and without disclosing their donors. In addition, it would also put a halt to foreign governments and their agents trying to influence the outcomes of our elections.
And by the way, the dark money spending? That would include donors on the left side of the political aisle as well. Again, you’d think Republicans would be on board with this.
Sadly, they are not.
Thus, it brings me back to my original statement about holding the GOP accountable. Instead of letting Mitch McConnell spew his talking points about how the bill is nothing but a power grab and federal takeover of elections, he must be pressed over and over on why this is so.
Is he against more people voting? Why should we make it harder for people to vote? Why are you ok with undisclosed donors flooding the system with dark money? Why should a handful of wealthy donors have such an outsized influence on our democracy? Since 2000 we’ve had roughly a handful of cases of actual voter fraud. Why do you keep telling voters this is a widespread problem when it most certainly is not?
We can not continue to let them get away with obstructing honest attempts to make our democracy work better for the American people –not just the one percent crowd or the well-connected. All of us deserve a better say in how we do things and shouldn’t have to wait hours in long lines on election day to make our voices heard.
They do not want us to vote. It’s that simple. At least not in overwhelming numbers. We all know by now that when more people vote, especially in presidential years, Republicans don’t win. And they’ve known this for years. As the co-founder of the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council, Paul Weyrich, stated proudly in 1980, “I don’t want everybody to vote … Our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
Indeed. And now, especially after we elected the first African-American president in 2008, the current GOP is no longer hiding its attempts to keep people of color and others from voting. That was their wake-up call, unfortunately. They know the demographics do not favor them going forward. They will not moderate their policy positions, so cheating, suppressing the vote, and keeping the status quo is their answer.
Because in the end, it’s all about power. The GOP will do whatever they can to keep it – the United States Constitution be damned. With a far-right Supreme Court holding a 6-3 advantage, they’ll push everything to the limit and cross their fingers those justices will do their bidding. There’s no reason to think they won’t.
The For the People Act is a phenomenal piece of legislation that deserves to become the law of the land. Instead of spreading lies and fighting it every step of the way, the GOP needs to explain its hard-line opposition to the American people. Instead of bogus talking points, why don’t you tell us why you’re against it?
We have a real chance at transforming our democracy with this bill. American citizens of all stripes would benefit. And perhaps that’s the gist of it all with this political party. They like it better when only a few are calling the shots. That perfect union we seek, for them, means we stay habitually imperfect.
Pass the damn bill — by any means necessary.