Politics Opinion | Biden’s Demagogic Voting Speech
America’s Best Strategy for Protecting Voting Rights Is Dead
The conservative majority’s opinion has declared that voter fraud, not racial discrimination, is a threat to the American system of representation. Of course, the majority rejects that characterization. Without feeling or effect, the majority notes that Section 2 “provides vital protection against discriminatory voting rules and no one suggests that discrimination in voting has been extirpated or that the threat has been eliminated.” This is a standard line in the Court’s VRA cases.But that line is meaningless.
If this is Joe Biden when he’s forceful and passionate, the country is better off with the passive and detached version.
The president gave a thunderous address in Philadelphia on Tuesday denouncing alleged Republican voter suppression. Playing on the darkest fears of Democrats and layering on the adjectival overkill, Biden blatantly distorted Republican state-level election laws in a frankly demagogic speech.
Biden rightly excoriated former President Donald Trump, if not by name, for his conduct since the election, saying it’s been “selfishness,” not “statesmanship.” True enough. If Trump runs again in 2024 and loses again, there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t, once again, claim he was robbed. There is a good case for tightening up the convoluted Electoral Count Act that might be used by partisans of Trump (or some other Republican or Democratic candidate in the future) to try to change an election outcome at the federal level.
Amid growing frustration, White House pushes voting rights
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Thursday unveiled new efforts to help protect voting rights as complaints have grown louder from civil rights activists and other Democrats that the White House has not done enough to fight attempts by several Republican-led state legislatures to restrict access to the ballot. President Joe Biden met with civil rights leaders in the West Wing, while Vice President Kamala Harris announced $25 million in new spending by the Democratic National Committee to support efforts to protect voting access ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
That’s not what Biden talked about, though. Instead, he lashed the Republican election bills. The approach seems designed to mirror Trump’s effort to undermine his side’s faith in the electoral process with a countervailing effort to undermine his own side’s faith in the electoral process.
Indeed, if Democrats lose in 2022 or 2024, Biden’s speech may be seen by Democrats as providing an equally corrosive excuse—it was Republican voter suppression.
This tack already got a successful test run by Stacey Abrams when she lost in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial campaign. She refused to concede and today almost all Democrats treat her as the rightful victor, even though there’s no evidence the election was anything but free and fair (with robust turnout).
Analysis: Texas Democrats are on a desperate mission to stop GOP voting bills
They're trying to save democracy by walking out on it. © Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images Texas state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, speaks alongside members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus and voting rights advocates during a rally outside of the Texas State Capitol on the first day of the 87th Legislature's special session on July 8, 2021 in Austin, Texas.
According to Biden, the GOP election rules are one of the most grievous affronts to our democratic rights ever. “The 21st century Jim Crow assault is real,” he said. “It’s unrelenting, and we’re going to challenge it vigorously.”
He called this push “the most serious test of our democracy since the Civil War,” making sure to note that the statement wasn’t hyperbole, even though it’s hard to imagine a more hyperbolic assertion. Half the country left the union during the Civil War, threatened Washington with periodic armed raids, and fought for its independence in a war that killed more than 600,000 people, which obviously doesn’t bear comparison to, say, passing voter ID laws.
At one point, Biden referred to “Georgia’s vicious anti-voting law.”
As the president himself might say, “Come on, man.”
Although it tends to be Exhibit A in the Democratic argument against GOP voting initiatives, the Georgia law was fully debated prior to its passage, and refined in the legislative process. The result is well-crafted legislation that is not anywhere close to hearkening back to Lester Maddox.
Biden to make 'moral case' for voting rights in major speech Tuesday
President Joe Biden will make "the moral case" for voting rights in a highly anticipated speech on Tuesday centered around protecting ballot access in the face of "authoritarian and anti-American" restrictions, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. © Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images US President Joe Biden speaks during Independence Day celebrations on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2021. Biden will use his remarks in Philadelphia "to make the case to the American people about how this is a fundamental right," Psaki said.
First of all, the Georgia law increases the hours available for early voting, and it preserves ballot-drop boxes, an emergency measure adopted during the pandemic, although it tightens up the rules around them.
Other key provisions have entirely reasonable rationales. The law dispenses with signature match, which Abrams has criticized as unreliable, to verify absentee ballots; instead, it asks that voters provide a driver’s license or state-ID number.
Long lines at polling place have been a perennial complaint in Georgia, and, it must be said, largely the responsibility of Democratic-run local jurisdictions. Where lines are an endemic problem, the new law mandates that counties either reduce the size of the relevant precincts, or add new equipment or workers.
Provisional ballots are tricky for election administrators to handle, and Abrams has long complained that they aren’t reliably counted. The law seeks to reduce the number of provisional ballots by diminishing a leading reason people vote provisionally, i.e., that they show up at the wrong precinct. Going forward, election workers will direct such voters to the correct precinct.
In his first major voting rights speech, Biden to denounce GOP's bills as 'un-American' restrictions 'grounded in autocracy'
President Biden's Philadelphia speech comes as lawmakers in Texas left the state in droves to block the passage of two election omnibus bills.Biden will speak at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon as the White House and Biden administration face mounting pressure to adopt a more forceful stance on voter suppression with his bully pulpit.
In the same spirit, the law says voters can’t request absentee ballots later than 11 days prior to the election—because many absentee ballots are rejected for arriving too late.
Even if you oppose every single one of these measures, Georgia will still have a notably open election system, with online registration, extensive early voting, and no-excuse absentee voting. As Henry Olsen of the Washington Post points out, most advanced countries around the world don’t have all the different ways to vote that Georgia does. “If Georgia’s elections are undemocratic,” Olsen writes, “then almost all of our democratic allies are also undemocratic.”
Biden either doesn’t realize this, or doesn’t care—in other words, he’s either being recklessly irresponsible or deeply cynical (and probably both).
The presumption that marginal changes in election laws measurably affect turnout, a key assumption of the Democratic case against GOP election bills, is simply erroneous.. The Supreme Court’s Shelby decision ending federal pre-clearance of voting changes in certain states . And states that adopted no-excuse mail-in balloting last year .
No matter how high octane his attacks on the GOP laws, Biden is unlikely to get the Democratic election bill, HR1, over the finish line in the Senate. But as Abrams has proved, the charge of voter-suppression is a powerful partisan motivator.
Biden made an implicit nod in this direction when he said, “We'll engage in an all-out effort to educate voters about the changing laws, register them to vote, and then get the vote out.”
Never mind that this wouldn’t be possible under a new Jim Crow.
When it comes to juicing up his own supporters, the Biden speech may have been effective, but it wasn’t statesmanship—or remotely truthful.
Biden and White House sharpen strategy to confront epic challenges .
Joe Biden's presidency is only six months old, but the mood inside the White House can often feel like a race against time. © Susan Walsh/AP President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. "The clock is running. We all know that," a senior adviser to Biden said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The President certainly knows that.