Democracy Blog.

A blog about democracy.

We Need to Fight for HR1

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Democrats should be out in the streets protesting for HR1 right now. It is the largest overhaul of the electoral system since the 1965 Voting Rights Act. HR1 creates automatic voter registration and a holiday on Election Day, while banning Super PACs, dark $ and gerrymandering.
— @NathanLerner

Passed by the House on Friday, March 8th, the For The People Act contains major essential reforms that will go a long way toward making our elections more fair and transparent.

  • Making Election Day a federal holiday

  • Automatically registering citizens to vote

  • Allowing former felons who served their sentence to vote

  • Creating a six-to-one donation matching system up to $200 for congressional and presidential candidates who refuse big-dollar donations

  • Requiring presidential and vice-presidential candidates to disclose 10 years of tax returns

This would be a huge step, except that this would next have to pass the Senate. And, very un-democratically, that gets decided by Sen. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, and probably the biggest single force against democracy in Modern American history. It’s no surprise McConnell would want to hinder voting, since more voters favors his rival party, and no one expects him to place his country over party. But it might surprise how shameless Mitch can still be after all the obstruction he has wrought.

When asked at a news conference why he wasn’t bringing the House electoral reform bill to the Senate floor, McConnell said, with a grin, "Because I get to decide what we vote on.”

“What is the problem we’re trying to solve here?” McConnell asked. “People are flooding to the polls.”

There’s a major flaw in the legislative branch when one person in the turnpike can decide what has a chance to be voted on, or not. Daley Gruen writes for Salon, “If you take away the Senate majority leader’s power to schedule or not schedule votes, government works. Open sesame.” It’s worth noting that McConnell will let the Senate take up debate for the Green New Deal, in hopes that it can be a scare tactic for socialism to cling to power with through another election. McConnell plays with our environmental crisis and broken election system like a warlord watching his people suffer just for fun.

It was McConnell who announced his intention as Senate Majority Leader was to make Obama a one-term president. It was McConnell who learned with other top U.S. security officials and President Obama that Russia was actively trying to help Trump during the 2016 election, and “made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.” It was McConnell who notoriously refused to even hold a Senate vote for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, casting the Court to the right of the American people for another generation. Besides subverting the constitutional process, this helped wedge Trump into power, as Alec MacGillis points out at ProPublica: “It also provided crucial motivation to Republicans who had grave qualms about Trump but were able to justify voting for him as ‘saving Scalia’s seat.’”

(TIMOTHY D. EASLEY/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

(TIMOTHY D. EASLEY/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

McConnell has also been the biggest champion in Congress of striking down campaign finance regulations. He took a personal interest in the case McCutcheon vs. Federal Elections Commission, which sought to free up bundling political contributions, submitting his own amicus brief. McConnell submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in a case about Montana fighting against corporate money in elections.

And the worst part? When McConnell started out in politics in the 70’s, he championed campaign finance regulation: “Realistically, this ordinance merely applies a Band-Aid to a cancer by controlling only a portion of the many corrupt — or potentially corrupt — campaign practices involving the raising and spending of money for electioneering,” he wrote.

We need to train our firepower on Mitch McConnell. Stop attacking Democrats over climate positions that won’t matter if Republicans can keep stacking legislatures. Trump is just the distraction. We can’t let Mitch McConnell hold back the people’s voices again. We need to go all in on HR1. Our democracy is counting on it.