Democrats’ Voting Rights Act: Not Enough for Democracy

The Democrats’ attempt to pass the “For the People Act” through the U.S. Senate failed last week when Republicans threatened to use the infamous filibuster to stop legislation that doesn’t have the support of at least 60 Senators.

The legislation would have done a few basic things to encourage people to vote and to discourage voter suppression: it would expand the right to vote through automatic registrations, allow the federal government more power to intervene against obvious voter suppression, make election days a federal holiday, expand early voting and mail-in ballot provisions, limit gerrymandering (manipulation of electoral district boundaries), and better regulate campaign contributions, among other changes. These are all logical reforms to the system.

But the Democratic leadership knows very well that because of the filibuster this legislation will never get through the U.S. Senate, even if all 51 Democrats (including the Vice President) support it. And the Democrats are unwilling to do the one thing they can do to force the bill through the Senate: use their 51 votes to abolish the filibuster and allow the bill to be debated and voted on with a strict majority vote. At least two Democrats (and maybe more) are refusing to allow that to happen, effectively killing the bill. This party can endlessly propose wonderful-sounding laws that they know will never get signed into effect.

That is certainly cynical, but let’s think about the bigger problem that their bill never addresses: the dominant power of big money, and party bosses that shape the nomination process. The bureaucrats and leading politicians of each party are influenced by the big money that corporations and the wealthy dangle in front of them. Both parties maintain their dominance of the media and political structure with the support of huge donations and advertisements from the millionaire and billionaire owners, chief-executive officers, and high-level managers of the corporations. Those donations shape the political choices these parties make, and this money keeps their parties dominant in the media and in our daily lives.

The two capitalist parties choose our candidates for us, and only afterwards do they give us any choice between the two evils. In other words, big money chooses our candidates beforehand, no matter how many people manage to successfully vote on election days. The Democratic bill addresses only the superficial symptoms and completely ignores the larger disease: the stranglehold of big money and the capitalist class over every aspect of our political system.