Alex Henderson

How Ralph Reed made white evangelicals 'synonymous' with the GOP and its most powerful voting bloc

During the 1980s, the late Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona — arch-conservative Republican, 1964 GOP presidential nominee, and a political role model for future Arizona Sen. John McCain — famously railed against the Christian Right and its growing influence in his party. Goldwater, a blistering critic of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Sr. and his Moral Majority, believed that far-right White fundamentalist evangelicals were terrible for the GOP and terrible for the conservative movement. But fellow Republicans ignored Goldwater, and the Christian right became the GOP's most powerful voting bloc. One social conservative who did a lot to bring that about was Republican activist Ralph Reed, whose tireless support of the Christian Right is the focus of a new episode of The Atlantic's podcast "The Experiment."

Reed was Goldwater's worst nightmare. While Goldwater and like-minded conservatives and libertarians wanted the Christian right to have less influence in the GOP, Reed has spent decades giving it more influence. And 18 years after Goldwater's 1998 death, Reed aggressively supported Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election and did a lot to rally White evangelicals around that year's Republican nominee.

The Atlantic's Emma Green, interviewed for "The Experiment," explained that Reed "has kind of become this spokesperson for the Christian Right."

According to Green, "You could maybe think of him like Mr. Evangelical…. He was the guy behind the scenes who directed the course of history in a big way."

Trump himself is no evangelical. Although raised as a Presbyterian/Mainline Protestant in New York City, Trump has never been especially religious. Having extramarital affairs with an adult film star (Stormy Daniels) and a Playboy model (Karen McDougal) and — according to his former personal attorney Michael Cohen — paying them hush money to keep quiet is hardly the type of thing that pastors openly encourage. But Trump knew how to appeal to the severe tribalism of the Christian right, and Reed defended him aggressively.

During the podcast, Green notes that Reed's political career goes back to the early 1980s — when the Christian right "was in its infancy." The Republican Party, according to Green, was not "synonymous" with the Christian right when Reed campaigned for Ronald Reagan in 1980's presidential election. But that changed, Green adds, thanks in part to Reed's activism.

Before the 1980s, Green points out, the most famous born-against Christian president in the United States was, ironically, Jimmy Carter, a centrist Democrat. But after Carter's presidency, the Christian right movement became inseparable from the GOP.

The Atlantic, describing the podcast, notes, "Trump's election was everything Reed spent his entire career fighting for: a president who was anti–abortion rights, listened to evangelical leaders, and advocated for Christians who felt pushed out of the public square. But Reed's victory had a cost. Many, many Christians have come to feel that their church cares more about politics than Jesus. They have spoken out. They have grieved. And some of them have left."

'It's disgraceful': An officer denounces the GOP's Capitol riot denialism — and commission plans move forward

On Friday, Democrat Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi announced an agreement for a bipartisan committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building — an agreement reached with Republican Rep. John Katko of New York State. Liberal Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent applauds this "surprising bit of good news" in his column, but he also laments the fact that there are still many disingenuous Republicans who are determined to "obscure" the horrifying events of January 6.

"Predictably, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) immediately said he hadn't agreed to the deal," Sargent notes. "What's still unclear is how many Republicans will support it. The bill will pass in the Democratic-controlled House, but it will also need GOP support in the Senate, since it could theoretically be filibustered."

Sargent explains why Thomson and Katko's proposal is a positive development, writing, "Perhaps the most important thing is that it focuses the scope of the commission on 'the facts and causes' related to the January 6 attack and to 'the interference with the peaceful transfer of power.' It will also look at the 'influencing factors' that 'fomented' this attack. Importantly, it describes January 6 as a 'domestic terrorist attack' waged against 'American representative democracy.' That counters the GOP whitewash effort by framing the mission around the need to explore the deep radicalization that led to an effort to overthrow U.S. democracy itself."

Sargent laments, however, that Republicans who want to "whitewash" the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol and the events that led up to it are not hard to find. The columnist calls out Rep. Rep. Andrew S. Clyde of Georgia for comparing the invasion of the Capitol by violent far-right extremists to a "normal tourist visit," and he slams Republicans who want to downplay the terrorist threat posed by the far right.

Republicans, Sargent writes, "wanted the commission to also look at allegedly widespread leftist violence, including protests against police brutality. Their aim was to bury the role of right-wing radicalization in driving us into crisis, and the active efforts by President Donald Trump and Republicans to feed and exploit that radicalization."

Sargent notes that Michael Fanone, a Capitol Police officer who experienced the Capitol insurrection first-hand, called out Republicans who are downplaying the violence when he appeared on CNN this week. An angry Fanone told CNN, "Those are lies. And peddling that bullshit is an assault on every officer that fought to defend the Capitol. It's disgraceful."

According to Sargent, House Democrats need to "hold a vote on" the commission "right away" because that "could put Republicans on the defensive."

"The bottom line is this: Broadly speaking, Republicans want to bury some fundamental truths," Sargent writes. "Many of them actually did go all in with Trump's effort to overturn the election. They actually did sustain his lies about our political system's ability to render legitimate democratic outcomes. That deception campaign actually did help inspire the deadly mob violence. Trump actually did incite that violence for the express purpose of disrupting the peaceful transfer of power."

Matt Gaetz associate pleads guilty in sex trafficking case — and says others participated in the crime

Joel Greenberg, a long-time associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, has pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a minor and other federal crimes and agreed to cooperate with U.S. Department of Justice investigators — which, according to New York Times reporter Michael S. Schmidt, makes the former Seminole County, Florida tax collector "a potential key witness" if Gaetz is charged with any crimes.

The DOJ has been investigating allegations that Gaetz was sexually involved with a 17-year-old girl — an allegation that the far-right Republican congressman, a passionate supporter of former President Donald Trump, has flatly denied. Gaetz has even fundraised off the investigation, claiming that he is being persecuted by "the Deep State" for standing up for Trump's agenda. In one of his fundraising e-mails, Gaetz sounded very Trump-like when he wrote, "I will not back down from the Fake News hacks that want to destroy me and America-First patriots like you. I am more determined than ever to shut down this HOAX, and I am glad to have President Trump on my side."

Schmidt reports that Greenberg "did not implicate Mr. Gaetz by name in papers filed by prosecutors in Federal District Court in Orlando" but "admitted that he and unidentified others had paid a 17-year-old girl for sex and that he had provided her with drugs." In the court papers, Greenberg admitted that he "introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts."

The Times has reported that according to sources, Gaetz asked Trump for a blanket pardon during his final weeks in the White House, but the outgoing president declined.

In the court papers filed on Friday, Greenberg, according to Schmidt, admitted to other crimes as well — including identify theft, stealing money from local taxpayers in Florida and defrauding the federal government.

Greenberg has been a target of DOJ investigators since 2020, and that investigation became a bigger story this year when Gaetz's name appeared in connection with it in news reports.

Schmidt explains, "As the inquiry ensnared Mr. Gaetz and other influential Florida Republicans and burst into national news in recent weeks, reports have portrayed them as a freewheeling group that frequented parties, sometimes took the mood-altering drug ecstasy and, in some cases, paid women they had sex with. Mr. Gaetz has denied paying for sex and said that his generosity toward former girlfriends was being misconstrued."

The Times reporter notes that Greenberg is "facing 12 years in prison" but could receive a shorter sentence "if his cooperation results in the prosecutions of others."

"Prosecutors revealed in the documents that they have evidence they say corroborates Mr. Greenberg's admissions — including a series of communications and transactions Mr. Greenberg had with the girl, and a list of dates of their sexual encounters," Schmidt notes. "The inclusion of that material appeared designed to bolster the credibility of Mr. Greenberg as a witness whose truthfulness would likely be challenged by anyone who is charged based on anything he tells prosecutors."

Mitch McConnell gets caught off guard when Fox News grills him over GOP support for Trump's election lies

During a Fox News appearance this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed that the GOP is moving on from fights over the 2020 election and focusing on opposing President Joe Biden. But Fox host Bret Baier wanted to know why the former president's name appears in so many Republican fundraising e-mails if it has really left Trump, and the election he continues to dispute, in the past.

When McConnell tried to dodge Baier's question, the host didn't back down and told the Senate minority leader, "I'm going to try one more time. Since April 24, fundraising e-mails from Republicans have mentioned the former president 97 times — an average of more than five times a day. You're saying the focus is not on the past, but you're using the former president's name — and Republicans are — to raise money for 2022."

The 79-year-old McConnell, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984, remained evasive — telling Baier, "Well, look, each individual candidate is going to use whatever appeal they think works to try to raise money. I'm not in the money-raising business; I'm in the Senate business. And what we're trying to do here is to make some progress for the country."

Here are responses to McConnell's Fox News appearance that have been posted on Twitter:

A Colorado Trump supporter accused of murdering his wife and voter fraud in her name: report

Right-wing media outlets have been full of debunked conspiracy theories falsely claiming that widespread voter fraud occurred in the 2020 presidential election, and those outlets typically point the finger at Democrats. But in Colorado, according to Daily Beast reporter Pilar Melendez, a Donald Trump supporter suspected of voter fraud is now facing a felony charge of forging public records and a misdemeanor charge for an alleged mail ballot offense.

The man is 53-year-old Barry Lee Morphew, whose wife, Suzanne Morphew, disappeared in May 2020. Barry Lee Morphew, following an FBI investigation, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with her disappearance.

"Five months after Suzanne Morphew vanished without a trace while out on a bike ride last Mother's Day, the Chaffee County Clerk's Office in Colorado received a bizarre notification: a mail-in ballot for the 2020 election had been submitted under her name," Melendez reports. "When a Chaffee County sergeant went to the clerk's office to check out the ballot, he saw that it had been handwritten and dated October 15, 2020 — and included the signature of her husband, Barry Lee Morphew, on the witness line."

Melendez adds, however, that according to "an arrest affidavit obtained by the Daily Beast," Barry Lee Morphew was not questioned by authorities about his "alleged voter fraud" until April 22.

Morphew is suspected of voting for Trump twice — once with his own ballot, once under his wife's name. According to Melendez, FBI agents questioned Morphew about the mail-in ballot that was sent under Suzanne Morphew's name — and he told the FBI, "I wanted Trump.… to win. I just thought, give him… another vote. I figured all these other guys are cheating."

Morphew told the FBI that he knew Suzanne Morphew "was going to vote for Trump anyway" and claimed he didn't know that one isn't allowed to vote on behalf of "your spouse."

Melendez reports, "Investigators also noted, in the affidavit, that Morphew submitted his own mail-in ballot at the same time. But authorities do not buy that Morphew didn't take advantage of his wife's disappearance to ensure another vote for the former president. On Thursday night, prosecutors charged Morphew with one felony count of forgery of public records and one misdemeanor count of elections mail-ballot offense."

According to Melendez, "While his bond for was set at $1000 for the new charges, Morphew is already being held without bail on the charges in connection with his wife's May 10, 2020 disappearance. Investigators, however, have still not found the mother of two, and have thus kept Morphew's arrest affidavit under seal since his May 5 arrest."

A 322-page FBI file offers a ‘wild litany of events’ about Larry Flynt: report

Larry Flynt, who was 78 when he died on February 10, is not only remembered for founding Hustler Magazine and building one of the United States' largest adult entertainment companies — he is also remembered for his politics and his battles with the Christian Right. The FBI had a 322-page file on Flynt, and Vice Magazine's Irving Alpert describes some of its highlights in an article published on May 13.

Alpert explains, "To the FBI, he was a person of interest. His 322-page FBI file, obtained by Vice News through a Freedom of Information Act request, contains a wild litany of events involving the Hustler honcho…. His FBI file focuses mainly on his activities in the 1980s, when his behavior was at its most erratic, but also, when many of his important 1st Amendment battles came to a head."

Flynt not only published porn. The late Kentucky native also published non-pornographic music magazines, from heavy metal to hip-hop to country, during the 1980s and 1990s. Full-disclosure: this journalist freelanced for some of those music publications in the past.

According to Alpert, one of the things the FBI file on Flynt describes is the attempt on his life in 1978. Flynt was shot by White supremacist Joseph Paul Franklin in Georgia, leaving him paralyzed. And the FBI file describes people who made false confessions to the crime. The FBI file also addresses the many death threats Flynt received after 1978.

"In the years after Larry Flynt was shot, he continually received death threats," Alpert explains. "Some were the rantings of the unhinged; some contained vague threats to burn the magazine's offices down; and others threatened, 'This time, we will finish the job.' As a matter of course, Hustler forwarded the letters to the FBI. In each instance included in the file, the Bureau declined to investigate, usually because the letters were unsigned."

The FBI file shows that Flynt gave U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor a free subscription to Hustler, which she didn't request — and when an assistant asked Flynt to remove O'Connor from his subscription list, he responded by also giving her free subscriptions to some of his other publications.

Flynt had an intense disdain for the Christian Right, and he famously got into a legal battle with the Moral Majority's Rev. Jerry Falwell, Jr.

Albert notes, "Over the decades, Flynt took on America's morality police or anyone he felt to be hypocritical on matters of sex, engaging in what the Washington Post once referred to as 'dirtbag journalism.' This involved offering millions to anyone who could prove an extramarital affair with a high-ranking government official, such as in 1998, when he took down then-House speaker designate and staunch Clinton impeachment backer Bob Livingston. In 2017, Flynt offered $10 million for information leading to Donald Trump's impeachment and removal from office."

Millennials have battled one economic challenge after another — and the ‘pandemic recession’ has only made things ‘more tenuous’: journalist

Generation gaps have existed throughout U.S. history. Some members of the World War I Generation complained bitterly about the teenagers of the 1930s — now hailed as "The Greatest Generation" by Tom Brokaw — and their affection for swing bands and pop crooners, not unlike the Baby Boomers of 2021 who call right-wing talk shows and attack Millennials as spoiled, sheltered and entitled. But journalist Annie Lowrey takes a totally different view of Millennials in an article published by the Atlantic on May 13, focusing on the economic challenges and difficulties that so many Millennials have faced during their adult lives.

"Millennials, as just about everyone knows at this point, are a generation delayed," Lowrey explains. "The pandemic recession has led not-so-young adults to put off having kids, buying a house, getting married, or investing in a car — yet again. But today's economic conditions are not just holding Millennials back. They are stratifying them, leading to unequal experiences within the generation as well as between it and other cohorts. Marriage is a prime example."

During the post-World War II America of the 1950s and 1960s, it wasn't uncommon to find 24-year-old men who never went to college but were homeowners who could support a stay-at-home mom and two or three children with their paychecks. Now, even for college-educated couples, owning a home or having kids means both parents working full-time — that is, if they can even afford a mortgage or kids.

"Millennials are getting hitched later in life than people in prior generations did," Lowrey observes. "The average age at first marriage has steadily climbed over the past half century, from 23 to 30 for men and from 21 to 28 for women. As a result, Millennials are less likely to be married than Gen X-ers or Baby Boomers were when they were the same age; the marriage rate among young adults has fallen 14 percentage points since 1990."

Describing "the Millennial experience," Lowrey points out that "Millennials, in particular women, who have completed college are tending to get married older."

"Millennials who did not attend or complete college are often opting not to marry at all," Lowrey observes. "Three decades ago, the marriage rate was above 60% for all adults older than 25. Now, it is roughly 65 percent for those with a college degree and 50% for those who finished only high school."

Lowrey continues, "The same kind of trend is affecting childbearing. Data compiled by the economist Caitlin Myers and published in The New York Times shows a sharp parenthood bell curve in the 20th Century: Women would start becoming mothers in their late teens and stop becoming mothers in their early 30s. Now, that curve is flatter and wider, with two spikes: one around 20 and one around 30. Many more women are choosing to become parents in their late 30s and early 40s."

Lowrey adds, "Millennials are getting hitched later in life than people in prior generations did. The average age at first marriage has steadily climbed over the past half century, from 23 to 30 for men and from 21 to 28 for women. As a result, Millennials are less likely to be married than Gen X-ers or Baby Boomers were when they were the same age; the marriage rate among young adults has fallen 14 percentage points since 1990."

Some Millennials, of course, are doing extremely well — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for example. But then, some people who are born and raised in Bolivia — one of the poorest countries in Latin America — are multi-millionaires. It's important to look at the big picture, and one of the trends that Lowrey discusses in her article is inequality among Millennials. With Millennials, the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer.

"Less recognized is that Millennials are also experiencing great wealth stratification," Lowrey notes. "The very wealthiest Millennials are doing better than people at the same age decades ago; Mark Zuckerberg is far richer than Bill Gates was when he was 36, for instance. The Millennial top 10% — who grew up in relatively wealthy families and went to selective colleges — are doing just fine. But poorer Millennials — particularly those without a college degree — remain far, far behind. The St. Louis Fed researchers found that the typical Millennial without a college degree has nearly 20% less wealth than would be expected."

The "Millennial experience" Lowrey describes is a long way from the negative stereotypes of Millennials promoted by 70-year-old MAGA Republicans who call right-wing AM radio talk shows to praise former President Donald Trump and complain about their grandchildren. Of course, not all Boomers are MAGA reactionaries by any means. There are still plenty of liberal and progressive Boomers who are fighting the good fight, from Sen. Elizabeth Warren to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to Rep. Maxine Waters.

Lowreys ends her article on a somber note, pointing out that the COVID-19 pandemic was yet another financial kick in the pants for Millennials.

"Millennials are not just a generation delayed, but a generation for which the whole idea of a milestone, or a marker of adulthood, has become weirder and less exact," Lowrey laments. "And the pandemic has only made things more tenuous and more stratified."

'Pure nihilism': GOP insider slams Elise Stefanik as a shameless flip-flopper in a hilarious but scathing video

Conservative Tim Miller spent much of his adult life as a Republican activist and strategist, promoting the late John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and serving as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's 2016 GOP presidential primary campaign. But Miller has been a blistering critic of former President Donald Trump, and in a humorous but scathing video posted on YouTube and the conservative website The Bulwark, he cites the likely replacement of arch-conservative Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming as House Republican Conference chair with Rep. Elise Stefanik as an example of why he finally left the GOP.

This week, House Republicans voted to remove Cheney from her position because of her unapologetic attacks on Trump and for acknowledging Joe Biden as the legitimately elected president of the United States. And Stefanik, now a Trump loyalist and promoter of the Big Lie, is the Upstate New York congresswoman who House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise have in mind as a replacement.

Rep. Cheney is the 54-year-old daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and Miller opens his video by pointing out just how right-wing she is.

"Liz Cheney has been cast out from her position in Republican leadership and is facing a Trump-backed primary challenge next fall, for thought crimes against the orange god-king," Miller observes. "Yes, that Liz Cheney: daughter of Dick, conservative hardass, military hawk, voted with Trump 93% of the time. Liz is so 'severely conservative' that in her first campaign, she came out against gay marriage, selling out her own sister, for God's sake. So, why would Republicans want to break up with her so badly?"

Miller goes on to say that Cheney was removed as House Republican Conference chair not because she isn't conservative enough, but for refusing to promote Trump's lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him because of widespread voter fraud.

"Cheney's ouster is about one thing, and one thing only: Liddle Donny Trump's feelings," Miller explains. "Liddle Donny couldn't take the fact that 'Sleepy Joe' wiped the floor with him in November. So, he perpetrated the Big Lie about how the election was stolen to save face. If the losing candidate had been someone with integrity, with the manhood, to admit that they lost and put the country ahead of their own ego, then Cheney would still be in leadership — and we could all have moved on to arguing about fiscal restraint."

Miller points out that GOP presidential candidates of the past, unlike Trump, had no problem conceding defeat when they lost an election, and the video shows images of McCain and 1964 GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater. And Miller slams Stefanik's willingness to promote Trump's lies as shameless opportunism. The ex-Republican notes that he worked with Stefanik after the election "autopsy" of 2012, when President Barack Obama was reelected and defeated GOP nominee Mitt Romney — now a U.S. senator via Utah — and he stresses that the Stefanik of 2021 is radically different from the Stefanik he knew back then.

"Elise has been a moderate, neocon, establishment Republican who voted with Trump less than Cheney — just 78 % of the time," Miller stresses. "I worked with her on the Republican Party 'autopsy' in 2012 that argued we need to make the party more welcoming to marginalized groups. During the 2016 campaign, she was so grossed out by Trump that she couldn't even bring herself to say his name."

The ex-Republican adds, "But when Trump won, Stefanik adapted. She defended him during both impeachments, voted to overturn the election, and last week she went full batshit, making an appearance on disgraced bigot Sloppy Steve Bannon's podcast to praise the preposterous Arizona audit that's looking into whether the ballots were tainted with bamboo shards from China. Switching from Cheney to Stefanik is pure nihilism. It's punishing one person for speaking the truth and advancing another for their shameless in spreading a lie."

Watch the video below:

Not My Party Episode 213 | Liz Cheney Unchained

'Caving to the new authoritarian Republican regime': Governor gets slammed for thwarting the constitution

In 2020, 53% of Missouri voters approved a ballot measure that called for expanding eligibility for the state's Medicaid program, MO HealthNet, and putting that expansion into the state's constitution. The expansion would have gone into effect on July 1, increasing the number of Missouri residents eligible for Medicaid by an estimated 275,000. But on Thursday, Republican Gov. Mike Parson announced that Missouri is "unable to proceed with" the expansion "at this time" — and the Missouri Department of Social Services, according to Kansas City Star reporter Jeanne Kuang, has notified the federal government that the expansion is being dropped.

In an official statement, John Rizzo, Democratic minority leader in the Missouri State Senate, said, "The Constitution says Medicaid Expansion happens on July 1. There is more than enough money in the budget to implement expansion. This is the governor caving to the new authoritarian Republican regime that doesn't respect the outcome of elections. This governor is determined to block people's healthcare while violating his oath to uphold Missouri's constitution."

Crystal Quade, Democratic minority leader in the Missouri House of Representatives, was equally scathing in her official statement. Quade attacked the decision as "dishonorable" and said, "By backtracking on implementation of Medicaid expansion, Gov. Parson is breaking his promise to the people of this state and violating his oath to uphold the Missouri Constitution. Whatever reputation he once had for respecting the law is gone forever, and he is just another politician whose word can't be trusted."

Although Missouri's largest cities, St. Louis and Kansas City, have Democratic mayors, Missouri on the whole is a red state. Parson is a Republican, the GOP controls both houses of the Missouri State Legislature, and both of Missouri's U.S. senators are Republicans: Sen. Roy Blunt and Sen. Josh Hawley. Although President Joe Biden enjoyed a decisive victory over former President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, it wasn't because of Missouri — where Trump won by 15%. Texas, in fact, was better for Biden than Missouri; Biden only lost by 6% in the Lone Star State.

Yet despite Missouri's Republican leanings, its Medicaid expansion ballot initiative was approved in 2020.

According to Kuang, "Parson had been opposed to the expansion but agreed to implement the will of the voters this year, asking for $130 million in state funds to pay for it. That would come with $1.6 billion from the federal government for the bulk of the expansion costs. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government picks up 90% of the tab."

But now, Parson is saying that MO HealthNet will run out of money if the Medicaid expansion goes forward.

Kuang observes, "MO HealthNet has one of the nation's strictest eligibility rules. It does not cover most non-disabled adults without children. Parents can qualify if their household income is no more 21% of the federal poverty level…. Expansion would allow Missourians making up to 138% of the federal poverty level — or a little under $18,000 a year — to enroll."

Senate Republicans make Joe Manchin look like a gullible chump

Civil rights activists have been hailing the For the People Act of 2021 as the most important voting rights bill since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But the bill, which has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, is facing an uphill climb in the U.S. Senate because of the filibuster — which centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is opposed to eliminating. Manchin has proposed a compromise, but Talking Points Memo's Tierney Sneed and Washington Post opinion columnist Paul Waldman are pointing out that even the type of compromise Manchin has in mind is getting a cold response from Senate Republicans.

Sneed explains, "The For the People Act, also known as S1, stands no chance of becoming law for as long as Manchin and other centrist Democrats oppose blowing up the filibuster to ram it through. Manchin says he would not support major elections legislation done on a purely partisan basis. Instead, Manchin has suggested that lawmakers focus on restoring the Voting Rights Act, which was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013. The Supreme Court invalidated the formula that determined which states — based on their history of discriminating against minority votes — must get federal approval for changes to their election practices."

Sneed notes that Manchin "is now pitching a fix to the Voting Rights Act that would subject all 50 states to the so-called preclearance process."

"That goes farther than the VRA restoration legislation that has been previously introduced, which is moving separately from S1 so Democrats can create the kind of legislative record that will make the law more resistant to legal attack," Sneed explains. "Manchin nonetheless has described the approach as something to be done with bipartisan support."

But Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas is expressing no support for the type of compromise that Manchin has in mind. Sneed points out that the type of "50-state preclearance system" Manchin has "outlined" in "vague terms" is being attacked by Cornyn as an "effort afoot" to get a federal "takeover" of the United States' election system through the "back door" — while the For the People Act is trying to get it through the front door.

Waldman, meanwhile, cites another GOP senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, as a glaring example of why even watered-down voting rights proposals won't satisfy Republicans on the far right.

The Post columnist observes, "On Tuesday, the Senate Rules Committee conducted a markup of the For the People Act, the Democrats' election reform bill, and it produced an extraordinarily revealing moment — one that should be of particular interest to Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.). Sometimes, even the phoniest of politicians can stumble into a moment of candor, which is what happened. That politician is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.)"

Waldman notes that Sen. Angus King of Maine, an independent, asked Cruz, "If this amendment and others that you suggest are accepted, would you vote for the bill?" — to which Cruz responded, "To be candid, it is difficult to imagine a set of amendments being adopted that would cause me to vote for this bill. It would have to be a fundamentally different bill. That being said, each of these amendments is designed to strike out egregious aspects of this bill; so, if some of these amendments were adopted, it might conceivably convince some Republicans to support it — if it ceased being a partisan power grab."

Waldman writes, "Forget about Cruz's suggestion that some unnamed Republican senators would support the bill; the key here is Cruz's admission that he won't ever be among them, and that it might get Republican support only 'if it ceased being a partisan power grab.' As far as Republicans are concerned, everything in the For the People Act is a 'partisan power grab.' Anything that gets more people registered, makes voting easier, reduces gerrymandering, limits voter purges, or tries to reveal who's behind 'dark money' — all provisions of the bill — is seen by Republicans as helping Democrats and therefore, completely unacceptable."

According to Waldman, "Republicans are holding up a flashing neon sign: We will never, ever cooperate with you on this issue. Cruz just made this as clear as anyone could possibly ask for. Will Manchin get the message?"

So far, Manchin is showing no signs that he's willing to change his position on the filibuster, even as Republicans continue to make it clear that they are deeply opposed to any serious electoral reforms. While the West Virignia claims he wants to keep the filibuster to preserve the possibility of bipartisan compromise, GOP senators are sending clear signals they will just use it to obstruct the Democrats' agenda.


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