Why is it that Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema cannot see the value in voting rights when so many others do? Even at the risk of their precious filibuster, voting rights for all should take precedence. Most lovers of democracy embrace voting rights, and it should come as no surprise that even important sports figures—who are ultimately just people—encourage democracy. New York Times (“NYT”) reported on a letter signed by Jerry West, Nick Saban, Oliver Luck, Darryl Talley, and Paul Tagliabue and delivered to Joe Manchin.
Most of these sports figures have ties to Virginia according to NYT. In their letter, the men said that they “strongly support urgently needed legislation that will protect both the rights of voters and the integrity of outcomes in all Federal elections.” They pointed to the Freedom to Vote Act as addressing the goals they mentioned. They use their involvements in sports as an interesting tie-in to the right to vote, using the term “level playing field” to show the comparison, but they take it one step further with “ . . . the referees are neutral; and at the end of the game, the final score is respected and accepted.” What a great analogy to use in the fight for voting rights. They even hint—though surreptitiously—at the root of the problem: the lies perpetrated by Donald Trump.
Even as Republicans cry “integrity,” their suppressive laws do nothing to ensure integrity in elections. These gentlemen do far more in defining integrity through their words. Even though voting rights legislation is unlikely to pass Congress, the subject is being kept in the public eye. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer echoed that thought to NYT: “The eyes of the nation will be watching what happens this week in the United States Senate, just a few days removed from what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 93rd birthday.” Indeed, NPR (and others) reported that Martin Luther King III said that “history will not remember them kindly” in his criticisms of both Manchin and Krysten Sinema. King compared the two to a white moderate about whom his father wrote: “a person who declared support for the goals of Black voting rights but not the direct actions or demonstrations that ultimately led to passage of the landmark legislation.” History is full of those types of people. It is past time for them to “shit or get off the pot,” as the saying goes. They need to stand up for their constituents and everyone else in this country who cannot exercise their right to vote because of roadblocks.
“If not now, when?” Now—the time is now. We cannot continue to allow Republicans to dictate their erroneous ideas of “fairness” and “integrity.” They have no concept of either word. We need to get them out of the majority and put together legislatures that will work for the people. Some Republicans can remain if they honestly want to work with the other sides, including independents, but those who seek to suppress our voices and our votes must go.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years