Biden Won, But Democracy's Fate Is Still Uncertain

Jan 23, 2021
In The News

Strengthening America’s battered democracy will require continued efforts across a range of distinct yet related realms — legal, political and cultural. They will meet fierce opposition.... Democratic members of Congress, many of whom are lawyers, responded to Republican transgressions with legal remedies of their own. In 2019, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, a massive overhaul of voting rights and election administration. That bill has been revived in this Congress. It would blunt efforts to restrict voting and to gerrymander legislative districts. It calls for automatic voter registration and easier voting (including by mail), and it makes it more difficult for states to purge voters from registration lists, a tactic employed in Florida, Georgia and other states to reduce Democratic votes. To bolster voting rights against a Supreme Court that has undermined them, it calls for restoration of “protections for voters against practices in States and localities plagued by the persistence of voter disenfranchisement.” To battle egregious gerrymandering in states such as Wisconsin, where Republicans command a large majority of seats on the basis of a minority of votes, the bill requires states to use independent redistricting commissions, with members drawn randomly from both partisan and independent pools of candidates, to draw congressional districts. The bill also provides funds for enhanced election security, and it would restructure the Federal Election Commission in an effort to make the broken commission a functional cop on the elections beat. Another bill, the Protecting Our Democracy Act, offers a litany of defensive maneuvers against crimes and ethics violations that Trump committed. It seeks to prevent abuse of the pardon power, which Trump wielded to reward criminal confederates, and codifies the Constitution’s emoluments clause to prevent a president from, among other things, funneling domestic or foreign funds to his businesses.... Passing such laws likely requires eliminating the filibuster, which enables a minority of 41 senators to block legislation. Democrats have not reached consensus on doing so. But they may very soon face a choice between filibuster reform or failure.