The Freedom to Vote Act remains in suspended animation in the Senate as Joe Manchin has failed to convince a single Republican to support the Act. The situation will not change unless and until the Senate carves out an exception to the filibuster for voting rights legislation. A group of scholars representing dozens of universities has published a statement urging the Senate to modify the filibuster to pass the Freedom to Vote Act. See New America, “Statement in Support of the Freedom to Vote Act.” The Statement describes how the filibuster was instrumental in allowing Southern states to impose 75 years of voter suppression after the Civil War. The Statement is worth your time and consideration.
The filibuster is an abomination and perversion of democracy. I agree wholeheartedly that the filibuster should be abolished (or modified) so that the Freedom to Vote Act can be enacted. But I disagree with the implication in the Statement that the failure to pass the Freedom to Vote Act will “undermine the minimum conditions for democracy [and] likely result in an extended period of minority rule.” We can win even when the deck is stacked against us. For example, Republican state legislatures dominated the redistricting process in 2010 but Democrats have controlled the House for two of the five election cycles following that redistricting. Whatever advantages Republicans granted themselves through gerrymandering in 2010 did not result “in an extended period of minority rule.”
We should demand that the Senate pass the Freedom to Vote Act. (Contact your members of congress now.) But if we cannot convince Manchin and Sinema to modify the filibuster, all is not lost. We still have the ability to show up at the ballot box in vast numbers and overwhelm the efforts of Republicans to prolong their hold on power by denying equal representation to voters. – Robert B. Hubbell Today’s Edition