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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Clive Crook: Biden is dividing the country he promised to unite

In my years of following American politics, I have come to the conclusion that Joe Biden is harmless—a back-tabber with no firm convictions, prone to exaggeration and the occasional outright lie, but no worse than average for a professional politician and no threat to the Republic. . Lately I’ve been wondering if I overestimated him.

His remarks on Tuesday address that issue. His election law speech was Trump-level demagoguery, the opposite of what the country needs and should expect from its president.

Biden is pushing for two voting reform laws. The first, the Freedom to Vote Act, is a set of measures to make voting easier. The other, the John Lewis Act, aims to reinstate, among other things, the requirement for some states to obtain federal permission to change their voting rules.

Together, they represent a powerful effect of federal power on the ability of states to hold elections. Leaving aside what the Constitution may or may not require in this regard, since the elections in question are federal, I see no fundamental objection. Voting should be as simple as possible, and it’s not obvious to the naive observer why the rules should differ from state to state.

However, there is a huge difference between defending these bills and equating the opposition with them as support for “Jim Crow 2.0” and “the end of democracy.” This is exactly what Biden did. It was hyperbole bordering on hysteria.

The fate of the republic does not depend on what kind of identity card is required from people who came to the polls. It also doesn’t depend on whether snacks can be served to voters in line, whether registration is automatic, whether Election Day is a national holiday, or whether states offer 15 consecutive days of early voting. These and countless other little things vary widely in the democratic world.

On the contrary, the fate of the republic may indeed depend on whether the losing side recognizes the results of the elections as legitimate. In his response to the 2020 election, Trump refuted this presumption, and he was rightly condemned for it. Now Biden, who has promised to unite the nation and repair the damage done by Trump, is doing the same.

If the reform bills don’t pass—which seems almost certain since the Democrats don’t have a sufficient majority in the Senate and two of their senators oppose the suspension of filibusters—Biden’s rhetoric will set the stage for a truly frightening scenario: the next time the Democrats lose the election, they will consider the result is illegitimate. In a country as deeply divided as the United States, it would be hard to imagine a more toxic intervention.

Of course, many Republican states are at least partially backing away from the simplification of voting procedures demanded by the pandemic. Apparently, these maneuvers are influenced by the calculation, right or wrong, of the guerrilla advantage. (Does anyone believe the Democrats would support more permissive rules if they thought the resulting additional votes would sway the Republicans?) The 2020 election was thoroughly investigated and deemed well-run, so the rollback looks wrong in that regard, too.

However, Biden’s description of the new laws is misleading. For example, he highlighted the new rules in Georgia, although they are more liberal than in some firmly democratic states. And he ignored the most important fact: a significant part of the electorate does not trust the results of 2020.

Yes, this last fact has a lot to do with Trump’s lies. Nevertheless, the essence remains the same: restoring confidence in the electoral system should be the primary task of every responsible politician and, above all, the president. It means talking to Republicans as decent fellow citizens. And that means recognizing the trade-off between making voting easier and making it more secure.

Now Biden is calling for an end to piracy so that reform action can be taken. For any ordinary piece of legislation, this would be unreasonable, for reasons the President used to explain when he was a minority senator. But it would be especially reckless to vote partisanly to change the rules of the election. It is critical to elevate electoral procedures above political infighting so that they command respect and credibility among supporters.

Representative James Clyburn reminded the people that Congress had passed the 15th Amendment, which gave freed slaves the right to vote despite strong partisan resistance. He makes a good point, except that it’s not 1870. It is also not 1965 when the Voting Rights Act outlawed overtly discriminatory rules such as literacy tests. And just to confirm, Joe Manchin is not Bull Connor.

In 2022, the main threat to American democracy is not racist voter suppression, but the failure of two raging political tribes to agree on nothing, including whether an orderly transfer of power is possible.

Biden campaigned as a candidate for a return to normalcy. He seemed right for the role, and that’s why he won: his most important task was to show that elections can be trusted, that people with deep divisions can still interact constructively, and that something can be done from time to time. . Until this week, he could rightly be accused of not making much of an effort to deliver on his promises. The new accusation is that for the sake of political gain, he decided to deepen the split in the country.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
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