Speeches aren’t enough: Biden must ditch bipartisanship, endorse ending filibuster
In a speech on Tuesday about the importance of voting rights, President Biden said, “it is unconscionable for Republicans to target those voters who did not vote for them and try to suppress their votes.”
He continued, “In America, if you lose, you accept the results, you follow the Constitution. You don’t call facts fake and then try to bring down the American system just because you are unhappy. That’s not statesmanship — that is selfishness.”
Biden also rebuked the “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was stolen from President Trump and called the draconian restrictive laws than many Republican-led state legislatures are passing, seemingly to make it more difficult for people of color to vote, nefarious and dangerous.
It is commendable that Biden is giving a full-throated defense of our electoral system, the Constitution and the right of every American to have their voice heard and their vote counted.
But speeches aren’t enough. The right’s assault on our democracy will not subside until either enough Republicans realize that it is their patriotic duty and their constitutional obligation to protect the right to vote and renounce and denounce the Big Lie, or the president and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) agree to get rid of the filibuster, at least for the purpose of protecting the precious right to vote.
The former seems unlikely to happen. Too many Republican Trump allies in the House and Senate remain unwilling to contradict Trump for fear of inviting a primary challenge. But the risk they run is advancing the “Big Lie,” which Trump repeated at a recent Republican conference in Texas.
That said, in the last couple of weeks, Trump’s “Big Lie” has suffered several big blows. It started to come undone when a Republican-led state senate committee in Michigan announced that it had found no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud in the 2020 election. It was dealt another serious blow when the Department of Justice started releasing new footage of the Capitol insurrection as a response to media Freedom of Information Act requests that graphically show just how violent and dangerous the attacks by Trump supporters were.
On June 24, former Vice President Mike Pence went further than he ever had in puncturing Trump’s egregious falsehoods about the election, calling what Trump wanted him to do – reject electoral votes already certified by the states – “un-American.”
On June 26, a New York State appellate court suspended former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s law license for pushing lies about the November 2020 election that the court deemed dangerous to our democracy. And this week, a new book by Washington Post reporters details how Giuliani made up the “Big Lie” on election night, telling his White House colleagues to “just say we won” in states still counting votes.
Even Trump’s former Attorney General William Barr told The Atlantic’s Jonathan Karl he suspected all along that Trump’s claims were BS, and he declared on behalf of the Department of Justice back in December that there was no credible evidence of widespread fraud during the 2020 presidential election.
Regardless, many Trump acolytes in Republican legislatures across the country are not only supporting his “Big Lie” but using it as a pretext to shamelessly pass voter suppression laws that will make it harder for many people to vote.
So, while President Biden’s passionate defense of democracy was necessary, it fell short of calling for an end to the filibuster, whose demise is likely the only way that the For the People Act can become law.
It is admirable that Biden believes so passionately in bipartisanship. But Biden and Democrats need to use every tool at their disposal to codify the sacred right of every eligible voter to cast their ballot. It has become clear that getting rid of the filibuster to pass laws to protect our Constitution and our democracy is the only viable path forward for the good of the country.
Maria Cardona is a longtime Democratic strategist, a principal at Dewey Square Group, a Washington-based political consulting agency and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.