TO BE OR NOT TO BE … A DEMOCRACY

       

     - by Robin H. Rafaelidys, Mytilini

“Folks keep asking what we are going to do about the filibuster? I think they ought to ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, what are they going to do about voting rights? The question really is not where I stand on the filibuster. That's a Senate rule. The most fundamental question is where you stand on voting rights. We wouldn't have to have this debate about the filibuster at least on this issue if the folks on the other side would do the right thing and stand for voting rights.... I'm a member of the Senate. I respect its traditions. I'm honored to be there to represent the people of Georgia. But the issue of voting rights is about the democracy itself. It's much bigger than any Senate rule.” ~ Senator Raphael Warnock, D-GA

Indeed! On March 26, 2021 Reverend Raphael Warnock had been a United States Senator for two months and six days.  He was back in his home state because one of his parishioners and constituents, Park Cannon, a state representative had been arrested for knocking on a door. The above is a part of his remarks to reporters. We, as a country, are fortunate to be graced by the eloquent, truth-telling of Georgian reverends. “(What are they going to do about voting rights?” is the essential question.)

In July of 2006 President G.W. Bush signed into law a 25-year extension of the voting rights act of 1965. HR9 called the “Fannie Loo Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006” was proposed by Congressman Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a dyed in the wool Republican. It passed by a vote of 390 to 33. The same bill passed in the Senate 98 – 0. Ten of those Republican YEA voters are still members of the Senate.  Who are they? 

Richard Burr (NC)
Susan Collins (ME)
John Cornyn (TX)
Lindsay Graham (SC)
Chuck Grassley (IA)
Jim Inhofe (OK)
Mitch McConnell (KY)

Lisa Murkowski (AK)
Richard Shelby (AL) and
John Thune (SD)

It would seem that Republican Congressmen and Senators in 2006 agreed completely with Senator Warnock that, “... the issue of voting rights is about the democracy itself.” 

Park Cannon was arrested for knocking on the door of the Georgia governor's office in the state capitol building. Gov. Brian Kemp was signing, at night, behind closed doors, the sweeping Georgia voting restrictions bill which had passed on that day through both the state House and Senate. Similar bills are being prepared in Texas, Arizona and dozens of other states with Republican legislatures. This push to make voting harder across the country is pervasive and alarming. Senator Warnock concluded by saying, “We're gonna keep on knocking on that door.” And we must.

But for us, living abroad, many of whom, like me, from Wisconsin, cannot vote for my state legislators, the most powerful and effective thing we can do is to insist that S1 be passed in the Senate.

As HR1, it passed the house, named the “For the People Act.” It addresses voting rights, gerrymandering, legislative practices and many necessary-for-democracy regulations. It would seem that the 10 senators who voted for the 2006 bill would be determined to see S1 pass. That, however, would require that they had consciences or even a shred of integrity.

If you don't want to hold your breath for that possibility, perhaps you could call (202-224-3121), email, or tweet your senators. And if they are uninterested in maintaining democracy, call, email, or tweet Senator Schumer and insist that he abolish or revise the filibuster so that a simple majority of senators can defend the majority of the voters.

If you'd like to understand the who-what-when-how of the filibuster, here’s a one-hour podcast that is clear, succinct and interesting: Why Is This Happening? with Chris Hayes - The Filibuster's ...