Joe Biden has made a passionate attack on racist suffrage sweeping America, warning that “the 21st century Jim Crow attack is genuine” and demanding of Republicans: “Have no shame?”
But the president was subjected to immediate criticism from progressives for failing to mention the filibuster in his 20-minute speech, a procedural rule from the Senate that has hampered efforts to protect democracy.
With the right to vote under siege by Republican-controlled state legislators, Biden on Tuesday delivered his most forceful remarks on the issue, directly condemning his predecessor Donald Trump’s “big lie” about a stolen election.
He noted that 17 states had passed 28 laws making it harder to vote, with 400 bills missing. These are likely to have a disproportionate impact on people of color. Citing the legalized separation of America’s past, the president warned: “The 21st century Jim Crow attack is genuine, it is relentless, and we will challenge it vigorously.”
He delivered a dumb message to the Republicans: “Stand up for God’s sake and help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our election and the sacred right to vote. Do you have no shame? Whether or not it stops foreign interference in our choices with spreading disinformation from within, we need to work together. ”
The president has been praised for ignoring Trump’s attacks and insults in an apparent attempt to restore courtesy in Washington. But speaking at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, he took off his gloves regarding Trump’s false allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election, culminating in a deadly attack on the US capital on January 6.
More people than ever before voted, Biden said, and challenges to the outcome were rejected by local election officials, state lawmakers and more than 80 judges. Counts were held in Arizona, Wisconsin and Georgia and did not change the result.
“It is clear to those who challenge the results and question the integrity of the election, no other election has ever been held under such control and standards. The big lie is just that: a big lie. ”
The audience clapped enthusiastically. In a clear push over Trump’s refusal to accept defeat, Biden continued: “In America, if you lose, you accept the results. You follow the constitution. You’re trying again. You do not call the facts ‘fake’ and then try to bring down the American experiment just because you are dissatisfied. It’s not statesmanship. It’s selfishness.
“It is not democracy, it is a denial of the right to vote. It oppresses, it submits to, the denial of complete and free and just elections, the most un-American that any of us can imagine, the most undemocratic, the most unpatriotic. ”
Biden noted that the rest of the world saw and said that he had just returned from G7 and NATO meetings in Europe.
“They ask me, ‘Are you okay?’ The citadel of democracy in the world. ‘Will it be okay?’ “
He warned: “Then hear me clearly. There is an unfolding attack taking place in America today, an attempt to suppress and undermine the right to vote in fair and free elections, an attack on democracy, an attack on freedom, an attack on who we are, who we are as Americans. But make no mistake, bullies and fear traders, liars threaten the very foundation of our country. ”
Now 78 said Biden said he had never expected to utter such words.
“We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War, it is not hyperbole. Since the Civil War. The Confederates at the time never violated the Capitol, as rebels did on January 6th. I’m not saying this to alert you. I say this because you have to be worried. ”
The president has been under pressure from activists to use his “rowdy pulpit” and do more to raise awareness of the attack on the right to vote. Last week, he and Kamala Harris, the vice president who led the effort on the issue, hosted civil rights leaders.
On Tuesday, Biden promised that the Justice Department would use its authority to challenge “attacks on state laws” that undermine the right to vote in old and new ways. Its voting rights department doubles in size.
Biden described it as a “national imperative” for Congress to pass the For the People Act to fight voter oppression, get dark money out of politics and end biased gerrymandering. But he noted that Republicans last month even refused to discuss it.
He also proclaimed the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, but none of the bills is a realistic prospect of reaching his desk, while Republicans have 50 Senate seats and are able to insert the filibuster, requiring a 60-seat majority in the 100-seat chamber. . Still, Biden did not address the issue.
Some leading Democrats, including House Majority Leader James Clyburn, a Biden ally, have called for the creation of a filibuster cut to pass voting rights bills. Biden did not refer to this solution.
Some observers expressed frustration. Ezra Levin, co-CEO of the indivisible grassroots movement, tweeted: “We have been waiting more than six months for the president to speak on democracy. And that was what they came up with? ”
He added: “You cannot defeat the GOP attack on democracy just by educating the electorate by 2022. You are losing. We lose. Our democracy will lose. Stop passing the money and focus on passing on the damn bill. ”