Joe Biden Knows Where He’ll Stuff Those GOP Voter Suppression Bills
Yesterday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order promoting voting rights on the 56th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," so named because Alabama state troopers viciously beat hundreds of civil rights activists, including the late John Lewis, who crossed Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge as part of a peaceful march for voting rights.
Selma was a major battle in a war that continues to this day. Conservatives are still actively trying to keep Black citizens from voting. There are, at last count, 253 voter suppression bills in progress around the country. Republicans claim they're just defending the integrity of elections, but it's more like they're breathing new life into Jim Crow.
This year, it's absolutely wonderful to commemorate “Bloody Sunday" with a non-racist president in the White House, one who believes in expanding voter access rather than restricting the electorate to attendees at a MAGA rally. President Biden gave a videotaped address to the Martin and Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast. You can imagine they were actually glad to see him.
The legacy of Selma is that while nothing can stop free people from exercising their most sacred power as citizens,… https://t.co/pdpjPwnYdO— President Biden (@President Biden)1615135391.0
The president of the entire United States said:
"The legacy of the march in Selma is that while nothing can stop free people from exercising their most sacred power as citizens, there are those who will do anything they can to take that power away."
That's right, Republicans. He means your sorry asses.
"Today, we have a hailstorm, not a rainstorm, a hailstorm. In 2020, our very democracy on the line, even in the midst of a pandemic, more Americans voted than ever before. Multiple recounts in states and decisions of more than 60 cases from judges appointed by my predecessor, including at the Supreme Court, upheld the integrity of this historic election."
Nothing was “rigged." There were no “irregularities."
Biden directly linked “Bloody Sunday" to the January 6 Capitol siege, another dark day for our democracy. It was the culmination of a post-election effort to "ignore, undermine, and undo the will of the people," but it didn't end with Biden's inauguration. The president recognized the “all-out assault on the right to vote" that's taking place in GOP-run state legislatures across the country, and he declared, "We cannot let them succeed."
He called H.R. 1, the For the People Act, landmark legislation that "will protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections," and urged the Senate to pass the bill so he can sign it. (This means Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will have to get over their filibuster addiction.)
But Biden's executive order is an immediate response to an immediate problem. It instructs federal agencies to "consider ways to expand citizens' opportunities to register to vote and to obtain information about, and participate in, the electoral process." The order will also increase opportunities for federal employees to vote. It will ensure access to voting for active duty military and overseas citizens, as well as ensuring equal access for voters with disabilities.
He's tasked his incoming attorney general, Merrick Garland, with providing access to voter registration for eligible citizens in federal custody. The order will also establish a Native American voting rights steering group.
Biden wants to improve voting access and make it easier for eligible voters to register to vote. This should be the goal of all elected officials, but unfortunately, the Republican party has embraced a seditious, anti-democratic platform. Biden's message is clear and unwavering: "Every eligible voter should be able to vote and have that vote counted. If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. Let the people vote."
During his address, Biden shared a touching story about when Dr. Jill Biden and he spoke with Rep. Lewis just a few days before his death last July. Lewis asked the Bidens to “stay focused on the work left undone to heal and unite this nation around what it means to be an American."
"[John Lewis] said we've just got to get this done ... We're all created equal and deserve to be treated equally."
That's all Rep. Lewis wanted: To freely cast his ballot as a citizen and have it counted no more and certainly no less than anyone else. Yet almost 60 years after "Bloody Sunday," conservatives are still trying to suppress Black votes. We won't let them succeed.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."