Analysis: Joe Biden puts it all on the line in voting rights

Biden’s speech on the issue on Tuesday was notable for its boldness amid the symbolism of the civil rights movement in Atlanta. The president, who ran as a consolidator, made a blunt good versus evil argument, suggesting that opponents of his plan are similar to separatists.

Biden said in one of the most important moments of his presidency, “The right to vote and that vote count is the threshold freedom of democracy. Without it, nothing is possible. But with it, anything is possible.” “

His decision to go all in on Tuesday underscores Biden’s belief that 12 months after the Capitol uprising, America is at a historic moment at which its nearly 250-year experiment with democracy may end. More professionally, it significantly raises political expectations for Biden himself. By creating bills that aren’t sure to pass the cornerstone of his term, Biden risks looking like he has failed if his efforts fall short. And chances appear bleak that Biden could change the minds of many moderate Democrats, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kirsten Cinema of Arizona.
So his speech in Atlanta set up an immediate test of political might for the White House, which has made a habit of setting legislative deadlines and missing them—partly with political misconduct—with a marginal Democratic majority on Capitol Hill. Because of the difficulty of working with. , The first hurdle came early Wednesday as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer resolved to introduce proposals for rule changes to help bring the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act into law.

a make-or-break moment

While Biden has spent months in harrowing conversations in support of his broader domestic agenda, he’s never really bet the kind of make-or-break moment he engineered Tuesday in Atlanta.

History shows that the President’s colossal achievements often require a Commander-in-Chief for the enormous amount of prestige for the effort. It is possible that the president could move the needle, and create conditions for success that would significantly increase his reputation and record.

But if Biden can’t persuade Munchkin and Cinema to drop his opposition to an amendment to Senate rules with a simple majority, he will come across as a leader who can’t even control his own party. His failure would also do ill with his chances of getting the same pair on board, which would eventually lead to the passing of his Build Back Better Social Spending and Climate plan, cementing his reputation as a courageous reformer. And the political climate would be doomed, as Biden would be portrayed as a weak leader who failed to implement his own agenda and who warned democracy could be eclipsed but did nothing about it. could. The story of a struggling presidency will escalate and do serious damage to Democratic enthusiasm in what is already shaping up to be a difficult midterm election year.
In some ways, the Voting Rights Push and Build Back Better Plan represent the last big legislative opportunity for a president who already has a bipartisan infrastructure law and a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue package on his record, which is currently on record. He is also overshadowed by his failure. Pass on your most ambitious goals.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vows to make the chamber all but obsolete if the rules change. Even if this does not happen, the situation is quite difficult. The midterm elections due in November are reducing the already limited time for meaningful legislative progress. Come November, Republicans may win the House and their leader, Kevin McCarthy, is hinting that he will use his likely speech as a weapon of revenge for former President Donald Trump. The GOP could also take over the Senate, leaving Biden in isolation for the final two years of his term.

a changed president

Tuesday’s speech also marked an evolution in Biden as president. It built on his escalating speech last week on the first anniversary of the Capitol uprising, which is now looking like a political reset after a difficult six months.

Even as vice president and in the early months of his presidency, Biden often came across as a creature of his beloved Senate. Now, his desire to embrace the filibuster changes he had always resisted is a big step away from the room he loves and his idealized vision of its humor and customs.

Pro-Trump Republicans try to rewrite state election laws as voting rights showdown looms in Congress

The speech in Atlanta was notable for the same harsh, blunt language Biden used last week to call out Trump’s authoritarian impulses at Statue Hall on the January 6 anniversary. Biden appears to have taken some distance from being the unifying force during his inaugural address last year and helped legislate a bipartisan infrastructure. Perhaps his most important gamble in Tuesday’s speech was the clarity of language he would call anyone who opposed his plan.

“I ask every elected official in America, how do you want to be remembered?” Biden asked, arguing that the resulting moments in history present an alternative.

“Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?” Biden asked. “Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?”

“This is the moment to decide to defend our elections, to defend our democracy.”

It seems unlikely that Manchin, who has already shown sensitivity to tussles during the protracted conflict over a thorny side and a build back better plan, will change his position based on being more vested than separatists. The West Virginia senator made it clear before Biden spoke that his position — that the rule change should not be adopted in the Senate by a simple majority — had not changed.

“You change the rules with two-thirds of the people, so it’s the Democrats, the Republicans who change the rules to make the place better; it doesn’t work better than getting rid of the filibuster,” Munchkin told reporters.

Time is Running Out

Unless Schumer and Biden can devise some kind of compromise solution that allows Manchin to say he’s hung up on his guns — or effectively sinking one of the bills he’s drawn up. begins to put pressure on the West Virginian — his stance, as scheduled on Tuesday, will stop the Bills in their tracks.

That likely raises the question of whether Biden’s striking language on Tuesday was meant not just to persuade, but also to be a defense to defend his position in the event of a failure.

While the president took a gamble on the strength of his appeal, the political consequences of doing nothing would have been deeply damaging. That’s because many Democrats and independent election analysts believe the party’s prospects in future elections are at risk, as in GOP-run states inspired by Trump, making voting difficult and influencing election results. Because of efforts to simplify.

If Democrats can't get their agenda passed now, they may not get another chance for years.  why here
Many liberals still worry that Biden came too late to the fight and that he should have acted immediately on voting rights as he entered the White House at the top of his political power. A coalition of Georgia voting rights groups clarified their displeasure Tuesday by refusing to show Biden’s speech, saying they had been through “photo-ops.”

Rather than act a year earlier on voting rights, Biden spent months reluctant to dissolve limited cooperation in the Senate to pass an infrastructure bill as the foundation of his call for national unity. (Critics of the president, however, do not explain how dealing with voting rights earlier would have solved the puzzle of Munchkin and cinema or reduced the impossibility of life in the 50-50 Senate.) But after a period of its own As his approval ratings plummeted for his own credibility, as the pandemic progressed and inflation soared, the president had a political imperative to fight and show courage at this point.

And he was also under pressure to steel black voters, many of whom are most likely to suffer from GOP-led voter suppression in the states. Black Democrats saved Biden’s presidential campaign in 2020 when it was on the verge of ending. Black voters will be crucial to Democratic hopes in November – especially in Georgia, where there is a Senate race that could decide the chamber’s fate and a high-profile gubernatorial race. A presidential vision for the fight could also be important in a broader Democratic coalition because the party needs to show large numbers of its core voters to limit Republican gains in November. Biden’s chances of being re-elected in 2024 also depend on a sense that his presidency is energetic and ready for battle.

In short, Biden had no choice but to act like him. The alarming echo of this time for Democrats with the voting rights bills stuck in the Senate was summed up by Vice President Kamala Harris, who was with her in Georgia.

“We don’t know when we will get this opportunity again,” she said.

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