Sometimes news stories hide frightening truths nobody wants to see in plain sight. One such truth is the obvious fact most American politicians do not want ordinary people to vote.
The story that hid that truth was the death of the Freedom to Vote Act by filibuster in the US Senate on 20 October 2021. The Act would have made voting easier by requiring early voting and mail-in voting nationwide, making Election Day a national holiday, banning voting suppression practices, standardizing voter registration, and banning partisan gerrymandering.
Yet the Freedom to Vote Act died because of the opposition of two Democratic US Senators Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona). To explain, Democrats need 50 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. They have 48 votes without Sinema and Manchin.
How Democrats Killed Freedom to Vote
Manchin and Sinema refuse to kill the filibuster. To explain, the filibuster is a fake legislative tradition that allows any US Senator to kill any legislation by opposing it.
Currently, you need the votes of 60 US Senators to overcome a filibuster. However, the Senate has the power to kill the filibuster with a simple vote of 50 members. Manchin and Sinema refuse to use that power.
The media presents the defeat of Freedom to Vote as the work of nefarious Republicans. In reality, Republican and Democratic Senate leaders conspired to kill Freedom to Vote.
There are many ways Democratic leaders could have bribed or forced Manchin and Sinema to vote to override the filibuster. For example, buying Manchin’s vote by moving something like the headquarters of the US Department of the Interior to West Virginia.
Additionally, President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) could tell Manchin “the FBI is going to investigate you and your family if you don’t vote for this.” Given recent Intercept articles about Manchin’s history. I think Manchin would quickly say, “yes sir” and vote the party line to keep his children out of the federal prison system.
Yet not a single Democratic leader proposed such actions. Skeptics will ask, “If voting rights are so important, why not use not every weapon in your arsenal to protect them?”
Democrats and Republicans do not want you to Vote
The obvious truth is neither Democratic nor Republican leaders want the Freedom to Vote Act to pass. Manchin acted as the fall guy to give other Democrats; such as President Biden and US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) plausible deniability.
Instead, Democratic leaders such as Schumer and Biden are just as opposed to Freedom to Vote as Mitch McConnell and former President Donald J. Trump (R-Florida). The difference is that Schumer and Biden need the black vote, so they have to pretend to support voting rights. Hence, they enter Freedom to Vote in the U.S. Senate but do nothing to pass it.
The media goes along by refusing to report Democrats’ failure and blaming Republicans. Instead, they vilify individual senators such as McConnell and Manchin.
Why Politicians do not want us to Vote
American politicians want to restrict voting to the small groups of people they can easily manipulate. For example, the extremists who often dominate primary elections.
There are several reasons for these restrictions. First, extremist minorities often expect little or nothing of politicians. For example, gun rights extremists do not care if the roads fall apart as long as they get their Second Amendment Rights. We can say the same of gay rights activists, pro lifers, extreme feminists, and many other groups.
The public, on the other hand, could expect politicians to repair the roads, expand the welfare state, and provide reasonable levels of government services. In addition, ordinary voters could demand additional government services that require tax increases.
Second, the policies ordinary Americans want are often the opposite of the demands of wealthy donors. For example, polls show ordinary voters want higher taxes on the rich, a higher minimum wage, restrictions on free trade, Social Security increases, and single-payer healthcare.
In particular, Morning Consult estimates 68% of Americans want to raise taxes on the wealthy and 62% want to increase the corporate tax rate. Conversely, the only major Republican legislative incentive of the last decade was to cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Republicans got away with that because they did not have to answer to most voters.
Third, any expansion of voting rights will decrease the power and influence of the moneyed elite. Since most politicians are part of that elite, they have a powerful incentive to limit voting rights.
In particular, I think expanded voting rights will increase influence of two groups whose agenda is to limit the power and wealth of the elite. Those groups are so-called National Conservatives on the right who view the elite as unpatriotic and want to limit its power and Social Democrats on the left who want to redistribute wealth. Many of America’s leaders prefer voter suppression to giving either of those groups a chance of winning elections.
Reversing the Jacksonian Revolution
Many politicians, especially Democrats, fear they could lose their corporate support and chances of high-paying work after leaving office if they meet voters’ demands. These people have made the devil’s bargain of prioritizing the wealthy and screwing everybody else to maintain their bank accounts.
Such politicians have a powerful incentive to limit the electorate to only the affluent and small groups of ideologically motivated voters. Thus they want to transform our political system into something resembling 18th Century England or early 19th Century America. That is a system in which only people who met property requirements could vote.
Hence, many American politicians are trying to reverse the Jacksonian Revolution of the 1820s and 1830s. In the 1820s and 1830s, they abolished most property and income requirements for voting. That revolution led to the election of President Andrew Jackson (D-Tennessee). Today many politicians, including Donald J. Trump (R-Florida); who hypocritically claims to be Jackson’s heir, are trying to reverse that revolution.
For Republicans, the reversal translates into a cult of Trump that makes voter suppression a holy act of fealty to Dear Leader. For Democrats, it means shallow acts of political theater to show their commitment to voting rights but no effective action.
Consequently, politicians are sending ordinary Americans a horrible message. That message is “if you want change go to the streets and be ready to riot.” In 2020 and 2021, we saw the fruits of this message in the massive George Floyd Riots and the 6 January Capitol Riot. Unfortunately, not even having to cower behind armed police while the lynch mob was banging on the door can deter our politicians from this horrendous course of action.
Ordinary Americans need to learn that politicians do not want them to vote and start holding those scoundrels accountable. If we do not, I predict America’s cities will burn.