Call it a catch-535: Democrats in Congress are trying to pass a huge slate of voting-related reforms, under the name of the For the People Act, or H.R. 1, that could aggressively reshape U.S. elections, change the way Americans vote, and also go a long way toward alleviating the Democratic Party’s structural electoral disadvantages. But the Democrats have to pass this bill with the tight margins they have in the House of Representatives and the Senate, thanks in part to the same structural disadvantages. The party finds itself short on votes and long on irony.
The challenge of the bill is that, aside from advancing the vague concept of democratic reforms, it doesn’t present a single theory of how to reform the electoral system, but is instead a palimpsest of Democratic freak-outs, with more recent ones piled atop older ones. At the top are measures that would push back on the voter-suppression laws currently in consideration or newly enacted by states with Republican legislatures, the most acute worry among progressives today. One level down are rules to mitigate or eliminate partisan gerrymandering, something many in the Democratic Party considered the most urgent election problem during the Trump years. Below that are new campaign-finance rules, representing the big concern of the late Obama years.
Although H.R. 1 has been around for a couple of years—it was the first thing Democrats introduced in 2019, when they took over the House—it uses the same strategy that the party adopted for COVID-19 relief and infrastructure: Throw as much stuff as possible in and try to ram it through. A Democratic aide told Vox’s Andrew Prokop that about 60 separate bills were rolled together to make this bill. That worked with the relief package, but it’s creating complications for H.R. 1.
[Read: Democrats’ only chance to stop the GOP assault on voting rights]
Many Democrats support certain versions of campaign-finance reform, for example. But some of them, such as Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, are uncomfortable with the federal government meddling with state power over election administration (though it’s been done plenty in the past). Black Democrats are eager to roll back changes such as Georgia’s new law, which Senator Raphael Warnock has branded “Jim Crow in new clothes,” but The New York Times reports that some of them are also wary of independent commissions handling redistricting, a central idea …read more
Source:: The Atlantic – Best of