Imagine a resumption of the 2020 U.S. presidential election – this time with a coordinated plan to reverse the outcome. Almost all the judges – including many nominated by Donald Trump – dismissed last year’s challenges with the contempt they deserved. Senior Republican election officials, such as Brad Raffensperger of Georgia and Aaron Van Langevelde of Michigan, resisted much intimidation to invalidate the count. Trump also phoned Raffensperger to press him to “find” enough Republican votes to alter the outcome. He refused. The U.S. electoral system has come to an end.
Those states and more than a dozen other Republican-controlled ones now pass laws that will make it much easier for sympathetic judges to defend the types of lawsuits they filed last year. Unless this can be undone at the federal level, last year’s election could be a general test for a successful bid in 2024. It is no exaggeration to say that America’s future as a democracy is under discussion. .
The problem goes deeper than new voter suppression laws in swing states. An entire party is now convinced of the notion that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president – a belief that has rightly been called “the big lie”. More than 60 percent of Congressional Republicans voted Jan. 6 to decertify last year’s election college results. They failed because Democrats hold the majority in the House of Representatives and because a courageous minority of Republicans refused to follow through.
Many are now challenged in the primaries as traitors because of their party. In contests for electoral oversight roles, such as Raffensperger’s position as Georgia’s secretary of state, approving the big lie becomes a test of a candidate’s loyalty. It is quite plausible that by 2024 Republicans will control the House and have purged most non-believers from their ranks.
Biden’s top priority must therefore be move to federal law support the national voting rules. Such a project has been passed in the House. But he went into opposition from the Senate Joe Manchin, Democratic Senator from West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona.
Manchin, in particular, has made it clear he will not vote for the bill unless it attracts bipartisan support. His position is a flick out. Either a law is worth passing on its own merits or it is not. He should not give Republicans a veto over his decision. Manchin’s often professed fidelity to tradition also misunderstands the history of the United States. The Proclamation of Emancipation of America that ended slavery in 1863 was promulgated on a primarily partisan basis. The idea that American historical change was the fruit of cross-party cooperation is also refuted by the civil war.
Manchin’s dilemma is that he represents a state that has voted heavily for Trump, which means his re-election is in doubt. West Virginia has given Trump its second-largest margin of victory after Wyoming, which is at home Liz Cheney, one of the few Republicans who still opposes the “stolen election” narrative. Cheney’s position may well sacrifice his political future. Manchin’s goal to lengthen his. But at what cost?
There is a goal for Democrats to show flexibility. Not everything on the bill should be preserved. Moreover, the law will not repeal state laws that give lawmakers the power to refuse to certify their returns from the electoral college. These battles must be fought in the states. But it would lift tough state restrictions on voting and put an end to gerrymandering. Manchin is certainly aware that the democracy of the United States is at a crossroads. The choices he and others make will be recorded in history.