Why Republican accusations of Democratic 'hypocrisy' ring hollow during a 'do-or-die moment' on voting rights: journalist

Why Republican accusations of Democratic 'hypocrisy' ring hollow during a 'do-or-die moment' on voting rights: journalist

With Republicans pushing voter suppression bills in state legislatures all around the U.S., the only hope Democrats have of countering that is passing a voting rights bill. But getting such a bill passed in the U.S. Senate is an uphill climb thanks to the filibuster, which Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are adamantly opposed to abolishing. Washington Post opinion writer E.J. Dionne, in a November 28 column, stresses that Democrats are facing a “do-or-die moment” and need to find some way — come hell or high water — to get a voting rights bill passed in the U.S. Senate and onto President Joe Biden’s desk for signature. And Dionne also calls out Republicans who are claiming that Democrats who used the filibuster to torpedo GOP-sponsored bills in the past are now being hypocritical.

“Opponents of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act prefer not to explain why a Republican Party that once embraced voting rights bills now echoes segregationist Democrats of old in defending ‘states’ rights’ over federal voting guarantees,” Dionne notes. “And they would rather not be pressed on why they want to roll back the advances that made voting easier in 2020. More mail and early voting, drop boxes, less cumbersome registration and a slew of other changes led to record-breaking turnout. The Freedom to Vote Act is all about such access.”

Although Democrats have a narrow majority in the U.S. Senate, it isn’t enough to meet the 60-vote requirement of the filibuster. Some voting rights activists have been suggesting that a filibuster exception be created for voting rights — in other words, keep most of the filibuster, but allow voting rights bills to be passed with a simple majority rather 60 votes. Manchin and Sinema, however, have opposed that idea.

“Reforming the filibuster is the only way Democrats can pass the voting guarantees favored by civil rights groups and democracy advocates,” Dionne explains. “It’s the only way they can undo the voter suppression and election subversion laws that have been passed in more than a dozen GOP-controlled states since 2020. It’s the only way to dismantle wildly partisan gerrymanders.”

Sinema has been arguing that if Republicans regain control of the Senate, fellow Democrats will be glad to have the filibuster. And Republicans who are accusing Democrats of hypocrisy are pointing out how often the filibuster has been used to kill bills that the GOP sponsored.

“If consistency on the filibuster is your standard, good luck in finding many purists,” Dionne writes. “The loudest critic of changing filibuster rules now, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), was happy to junk the filibuster in 2017 in his quest to pack the Supreme Court with conservatives. Seems pretty hypocritical to me.”

Dionne concludes his column by emphasizing that Democrats will be letting their voters down if they let the filibuster get in the way of a voting rights bill.

“If it fails to act,” Dionne warns, “the party that won power in 2020 as the bulwark of democracy and civil rights will be saying that these commitments matter less than fealty to an outdated, dysfunctional practice that has been altered repeatedly in pursuit of far less noble goals.”

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