The response to a compromise voting bill by a conservative Democrat illustrates the "folly" of trying to work with Republicans who are committed to voter suppression, according to a new analysis by Greg Sargent published by The Washington Post.
Sargent noted Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) immediately tried to label Manchin's bill as the "Stacey Abrams substitute" despite the fact the voting rights activist does not serve in Congress.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) says when Stacey Abrams endorsed Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-WV) voting rights proposal, "it became the Stacey Abrams substitute, not the Joe Manchin substitute." pic.twitter.com/0tdvvLmwGw
— The Recount (@therecount) June 17, 2021
"Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also signaled that this will be the GOP approach, putting out a statement denouncing Manchin's proposal as 'the plan endorsed by Stacey Abrams.' Why the newfound availability of this talking point is so exciting to Republicans is fairly obvious, but put that aside for now. Shouldn't this underscore for Manchin the broader problem with his whole approach to Republicans in a highly clarifying way?" Sargent asked.
"Remember, Manchin has adopted the position that no voting rights legislation should pass if it does not have bipartisan support. Manchin himself declared explicitly that the original For the People Act is a nonstarter precisely because no Republicans support it," he explained. "Achieving bipartisanship as a goal in itself is a precondition for any democracy-protecting proposal, Manchin says, because only something with bipartisan buy-in can be good for democracy. Any such bill that passes on partisan lines risks 'further dividing and destroying the country.' The problem is that this cedes total control to Republicans over the question of what is worth doing to protect democracy in the first place. Once it's clear that no Republican will support a given package of reforms, it cannot be good for democracy by definition. Or by Manchin's definition, anyway."
The idea of Democrats caring more about the perception of bipartisanship that preserving has created a trap.
"Yet what this all really shows is that for Republicans, there cannot be a compromise if it entails doing much of anything at all to protect or expand voting rights. They do not have any interest in doing either," he noted. "Meanwhile, Republicans are immediately jumping at the chance to obscure the fact that this new proposal represented the work of a moderate Democrat who is reaching out in good faith to Republicans, by recasting it as the work of someone they believe they can easily caricature as a partisan activist. All of which should illustrate the folly of seeking bipartisanship as a precondition for protecting democracy in the first place."
Read the full report.