As Republicans have for months swept the country with laws aimed at suppressing voters, the White House has taken a relatively soft stance on combating such efforts. In response, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) emphasized on Monday that now is the time to “fight like hell” for democracy.
A New York Times report last week found that the attitude surrounding voter suppression laws in the White House is that it’s possible to overcome the Republican efforts to get less people to vote. “In private calls with voting rights groups and civil rights leaders,” the Times wrote, “White House officials and close allies of the president have expressed confidence that it is possible to ‘out-organize voter suppression,’ according to multiple people familiar with the conversations.”
Ocasio-Cortez responded, saying in a tweet that “Communities cannot ‘out-organize’ voter suppression when those they organize to elect won’t protect the vote. And even if they DO out-organize, the ground is being set to overturn results.”
The reported stance within the White House frustrated progressives, Democrats and political wonks who pointed out that it is, indeed, impossible to “out-organize” voter suppression. “[L]et’s not forget that the Republicans’ anti-election campaign isn’t based on temporary fixes: these are new, permanent, state-level laws that will remain on the books indefinitely. If the plan is for Democrats to ‘out-organize’ their GOP opponents forever, it leaves Republicans with an even greater built-in electoral advantage,” MSNBC’s Steve Benen wrote.
Instead, the answer is for Democrats to pass voting rights reform, advocates argue. “The time to fight like hell for democracy is right now. We may not get another chance,” Ocasio-Cortez continued, promoting H.R.1, the For the People Act, at the end of the tweet.
Democrats have a plan to combat Republican voter suppression in the form of the For the People Act, a sweeping elections bill aimed at making elections more fair and transparent, which would walk back many of the voter-suppression measures that Republicans have been passing at the state level. But there’s virtually no chance for it to pass the filibuster in the Senate since it’s Republicans who are leading the charge on the voter suppression efforts to begin with.
Joe Biden and the White House have earned the chagrin of progressives and Democrats with their soft support of voting rights. The White House has launched a campaign to advocate for voting rights, but Biden defended the filibuster last week even after months of pressure from the left to end the archaic practice. He also said that Republicans “know better” than to block voting, somehow ignoring the stance that has developed on the right in regards to elections and the ability to vote over the past year or so.
Biden and people like Senators Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) wanting to not do away with the filibuster in its current form, however, may prove to be a losing strategy for them — literally.
Republicans have all but said that they’re passing voter suppression bills so that they never lose an election again. Some of the voter suppression bills go so far as to allow partisan officials to overturn election results entirely and effectively throw out millions of votes, as alluded to by Ocasio-Cortez.
Even more concerning is the fact that, with the latest redistricting process underway, the GOP is poised to steal even more districts than they have before. In 2010, during the last round of redistricting, Republicans pulled “the most audacious political heist of modern times” through aggressive gerrymandering efforts, as author David Daley wrote. They had launched a covert campaign called “REDMAP” to take as many districts as possible through the process.
Now, Republicans are no doubt preparing to gerrymander again, but even more forcefully this time. The Supreme Court in 2019 ruled that federal courts had virtually no legal recourse to stop gerrymandering, paving the way for what experts say might be the worst, most partisan gerrymandering the country has ever seen.
“I’m very worried that we’ll have several states, important states, with among the worst gerrymanders in American history,” Nicholas Stephanopoulos, a law professor at Harvard who studies redistricting, told The Guardian. “That’s not good for democracy in those states.”