Why Joe Biden had to do it this way
Now that President Biden and the Democrats are finally making infrastructure happen, they’ll move on to voting rights legislation in the new year. This has led to the fair question of why they didn’t do voting rights first. After all, what good are roads and bridges if we’re no longer a democracy anyway? The answer is actually pretty straightforward.
Biden and the Democrats started off 2021 by trying to voting rights legislation first. But there just wasn’t the momentum for it. Manchin has to be pushed and squeezed into doing anything, and Sinema is, well, Sinema. Even though political activists all understand the importance of voting rights legislation, the average American simply doesn’t at this time. And there’s no amount of yelling around that’s going to change that.
So because there was no way to leverage enough public pressure to force Manchin and Sinema to cave on voting rights in 2021, Biden and the Democrats decided to use 2021 to get infrastructure done instead, because – in spite of what the doomsday types insist – the Democrats are in fact really good about making sure they’re getting something done.
The doomsday types just have no frame of reference for how long it takes to pass any legislation this complex with a majority this narrow; they don’t appear to have been paying attention when Trump and the Republicans had a 52 vote Senate majority and still couldn’t pass their own health care legislation after about a year of trying. The fact that Biden and the Democrats got infrastructure done with a 50 one Senate “majority” is nothing short of amazing, no matter how long it took.
But you see, politics is the art of the possible. Voting rights legislation wasn’t possible in 2021, because the public support and enthusiasm for it just wasn’t there. After all, no matter how much time we’ve spent talking about these egregious voter suppression laws being passed in red states, the average American simply has no interest in hearing about voting and elections in odd numbered years.
This brings us to 2022. Once we get into the new year, Biden and the Democrats will have the ability to convince the average American that their voting rights are in danger “later this year.” That’ll resonate with a whole lot more people. To that end, as more red states pass voter suppression laws, it’ll give the Democrats more ammunition for proving to the general public that federal voting rights legislation really is a crucial thing.
Throw in the fact that the Biden DOJ has civil cases ongoing against red states over voter suppression laws, and in the new year we should start getting court victories out of it. That’ll help push voter suppression to the forefront of the media’s favorite narratives, and it’ll give the Democrats guidance for fine tuning their voting rights legislation so that it survives any court challenges.
We’re going to get voting rights legislation done in the new year. The people who are insisting it’ll “never happen” are the same people who insisted Biden’s infrastructure legislation would “never happen.” They obviously have no credibility and must be tuned out. Politics is the art of the possible. Voting rights legislation wasn’t possible in 2021, but infrastructure was. Voting rights legislation will be possible in 2022, and we’re going to put in the work to make it happen. Fortunately, Biden and the Democratic leadership are savvy enough to have made this all possible.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report