Noam Chomsky and Bill Kristol team up to fight GOP voter suppression
Norm Chomsky and Bill Kristol. (Screengrabs)

An unlikely group of writers, academics, and political activists have teamed up to fight Republican "voter suppression" and urge Democrats to pass national legislation protecting voting rights.

In an open letter published simultaneously by the liberal The New Republic magazine and conservative The Bulwark website, a group of strange bedfellows noted they "have long disagreed about many things."

"Some of us are Democrats and others Republicans. Some identify with the left, some with the right, and some with neither. We have disagreed in the past, and we hope to be able to disagree, productively, for years to come. Because we believe in the pluralism that is at the heart of democracy," they wrote. "But right now we agree on a fundamental point: We need to join together to defend liberal democracy."

The three primary signatories were Prof. Todd Gitlin of Columbia University, Prof. Jeffrey Isaac of Indiana University and Bulwark editor-at-large Bill Kristol.

Co-signors include MIT Prof. Noam Chomsky, Stanford Prof. Francis Fukuyama, The Nation writer Joan Walsh and Brookings Institution senior fellow Benjamin Wittes, among others.

The group warned "liberal democracy itself is in serious danger. Liberal democracy depends on free and fair elections, respect for the rights of others, the rule of law, a commitment to truth and tolerance in our public discourse. All of these are now in serious danger."

Even though there are prominent conservatives listed, they did not hesitate to assign blame.

"The primary source of this danger is one of our two major national parties, the Republican Party, which remains under the sway of Donald Trump and Trumpist authoritarianism," they explained. "Unimpeded by Trump's defeat in 2020 and unfazed by the January 6 insurrection, Trump and his supporters actively work to exploit anxieties and prejudices, to promote reckless hostility to the truth and to Americans who disagree with them, and to discredit the very practice of free and fair elections in which winners and losers respect the peaceful transfer of power."

The group united around four points.

"We vigorously oppose ongoing Republican efforts to change state election laws to limit voter participation," they explained. "We vigorously oppose ongoing Republican efforts to empower state legislatures to override duly appointed election officials and interfere with the proper certification of election results, thereby substituting their own political preferences for those expressed by citizens at the polls."

"We vigorously oppose the relentless and unending promotion of unprofessional and phony "election audits" that waste public money, jeopardize public electoral data and voting machines, and generate paranoia about the legitimacy of elections," they explained. "We urge the Democratic-controlled Congress to pass effective, national legislation to protect the vote and our elections, and if necessary to override the Senate filibuster rule."

Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said the open letter raised a serious question.

"Either we will have a democracy (however imperfect) or we won't. It's that serious. Where do you stand?" she asked.