The real reason Republicans are blocking voting rights legislation

Instead, party leaders in Washington and the states dedicated themselves to enshrining his anti-democratic behavior as GOP orthodoxy and whitewashing events that led to Trump’s disgrace, including his pandemic failures, lies about non-existent major electoral fraud and the Capitol insurrection.
Instead of examining why voters rejected the ex-President after a single term, Republican state legislators drew up bills rooted in his falsehoods about a stolen election that could make it easier to install their preferred victor after future elections — even if voters decide otherwise.

It is in this context that GOP senators this week are expected to block Democratic moves effectively designed to protect a democracy under near-unprecedented assault.

The showdown will come at a critical moment for Joe Biden’s presidency. Delicate negotiations that could produce a bipartisan infrastructure bill may have a narrow path. And a months-long drive for a bipartisan police reform deal is finally creating some optimism for genuine progress. (Biden is also facing increasing unrest among liberal Democrats who fear dreams of a radical, transformative presidency may be evaporating.)

While these legislative issues are vital to Biden’s political agenda, the clash over voting rights touches on something more fundamental to America — the maintenance of its political system.

It is perfectly valid for Republicans to raise objections to the “For the People Act,” which already passed the House and which Democrats are now trying to pass in the Senate. The overhaul bill restores voting rights and expands access to the ballot by introducing automatic voter registration, protecting mail-in voting and establishing nationwide standards for early voting. The idea that this is an overly expansive use of federal power to dictate rules of state elections deserves serious debate. New campaign finance reform proposals included in the bill may face legal impediments. And it’s not clear a one-size-fits-all mandate works everywhere. Some states already believe their systems are superior to anything Washington could impose. Critics also question whether Washington will properly fund a huge overhaul of the election system.
Yet the sincerity of Republican opposition is called into question by the actions of GOP state legislators who are actively undermining US democracy. Most Republican lawmakers in Washington voted to shield Trump from impeachment charges after he incited the mob riot at the Capitol on January 6. And more recently, GOP senators blocked an independent, bipartisan probe into the events of that day.

Claims of vast voter fraud in 2020 — which Republicans say justifies restrictive voting bills from Florida to Texas and Arizona to Michigan — are false. And past statements from GOP leaders, including Trump, that allowing more people to vote will make it harder for Republicans to ever win power reveals a more genuine rationale for GOP opposition.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, for instance, said on Fox News in November, while Trump was disputing the result of a free and fair election that made Joe Biden president, that “if Republicans don’t challenge and change the US…

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