Now that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has made the valiant decision to exit the presidential race, the last flicker of Republican hope to keep the White House and the Senate has been extinguished.
Almost, that is.
You hear it all the time, people throughout the country at their wits’ end complaining that there is absolutely nothing Washington can agree on. But there is one glaring exception. The one thing I am certain every politician, pundit and politico alike knows is the truth, even if it’s tucked in the furthest crawl space of their mind, is that if this presidential election is conducted with even somewhat fair conditions, it will result in a Democratic victory. I know very few people who disagree with this, because the data is clear. If this country is allowed to exercise its right to vote freely and fully, it is quite simply not going to vote to have the next four years look like the last four years.
If this country is allowed to exercise its right to vote freely and fully, it is quite simply not going to vote to have the next four years look like the last four years.
Despite having gone through President Donald Trump’s impeachment ringer, former Vice President (and presumptive Democratic nominee) Joe Biden has never been down to Trump in the polling averages the entire primary — and is frequently up by double digit margins, nationally. He is up in North Carolina, he is up in Arizona, he is up in Wisconsin, has never been down in Michigan or Pennsylvania, and is even up in what has become the political no man's land of Ohio. In 2016, Trump won voters who disliked both him and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by 17 points — right now, Biden is winning those voters by over 30. House Democrats are up with women — the critical bloc that propelled us to victory in 2018 — by 20 points. If this trend continues, not only will Biden be president, but also Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Kentucky's Mitch McConnell’s Senate majority will be all but a bad nightmare, as well.
That is a majoritarian dominance waiting in the wings.
The Republican way of dealing with this contingency was on full display in Wisconsin last week, where years of deep-rooted gerrymanderingcame to a head. In perfect harmony, a right-wing Wisconsin Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court declared they would rather risk people’s lives than work with the state’s Democratic governor to help voters discharge their civic duty safely. Can any of us imagine what these same Republicans would do to keep their fangs hooked in the presidency and the Senate come this fall?
That is why, during this moment of crisis, it is now the single most important political imperative of elected Democrats to demand as many measures to protect and expand the right to vote in the coming stimulus bills as possible, including election security funding so secretaries of states across the country have the resources necessary to conduct an impartial election. With a fair election, Republicans are on the precipice of losing control of every single governmental branch. Despite all the many warnings, Republicans ran down the rabbit hole with Trump so far they can no longer see the sun — and now it’s time they pay the price.
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It’s plain as day: Republicans can only win by chilling the right to vote. If all elections were fair, there wouldn’t have been a Republican president since before Bill Clinton. Take the 2000 presidential election. Vice President Al Gore would be transcribed in the history books as President Al Gore if it weren’t for a right-wing Supreme Court, and the vote of a 5-4 conservative majority. And yes, there is still a 5-4 right wing majority in the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts is no moderate; he's as much of a partisan hack as Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, or Trump himself. Roberts’ vote to prevent Wisconsinitesfrom mailing in ballots, just so they could literally avoid dying, was as blood red as it gets.
Thus, Republicans know their fate in November is grim if they can’t suppress the vote. But Democrats now have power in their hands to fight back. Democrats: Do not duck your tails and run scared of Republicans' PR machine. Rather, make expansive voting rights measures a requirement of the next stimulus bill. Right now, Republicans are fist fighting a hurricane with no good option. They can either allow Americans to continue dying, and the economy with them, or they can suck it up and expand the right to vote.
Coronavirus distancing protocols are likely to extend far longer than imagined — which makes measures like universal vote-by-mail critical. Democrats should rip a page from the playbook of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and require states to mail a ballot to every registered voter with a paid-for return envelope. Unless a person has died, they cannot be illegitimately removed from voter rolls and should get a ballot sent right to their mailbox like everyone else.
We should also use this moment to finally make good on bills like those proposed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., requiring paper ballots — that coincidentally cannot be hacked — in the coming presidential election. Make no mistake: bad actors like Russia are going to try and elect Trump again. And with states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and others reportedly draining their election security funding to help fight back against COVID-19, it is imperative that any future stimulus funding include at least $2 billion to replenish states’ war chest to fight back against potential breaches.
In 1863, in what is universally regarded as the most famous (and perhaps best) speech ever delivered on American soil, President Abraham Lincoln said that a government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish. If you listen close, you can again hear the distant bugle of Father Abraham ringing from the caverns of American history, calling us to arms, to defend his vision: That every American, no matter who you are, must be guaranteed the right to vote.
If we fight our hardest in this moment to achieve this imperative, this era of American darkness will soon be over.