McConnell no longer controls the prosecution, but with a de facto Senate supermajority demand, the law for the people is still dead upon his arrival. In other words, unless the Democrats kill the legislative obstruction and restore majority rule in the house. Right now, Senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia are the most vocal Democratic opponents to end the filibuster. “I want to restore the 60-vote threshold for all elements of Senate work,” Sinema said earlier this month, apparently confusing McConnell’s Obama-era innovation with a centuries-old tradition. Manchin also insisted on maintaining the supermajority requirement, telling Politico he “will not vote in this Congress” to change the filibuster.
Manchin, who has won the election in West Virginia for 20 years, is safe in his seat for as long as he wants. Sinema, on the other hand, is much more vulnerable. Not least because the Arizona Republican State Legislature, let alone its Republican Party, is all-in on “stop the steal” and Donald Trump’s war on mail-in voting. Arizona Republicans have previously introduced bills to limit voter registration campaigns, require notarized signatures for mail-in ballots, and prohibit voters from mailing completed ballots .
Arizona Republicans are not alone. To date, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, Republicans in 33 states have introduced more than 165 bills to restrict voting, as part of the response by National Conservatives to the results of the 2020 presidential election. Georgia bill would impose further restrictions on early voting by absent and in person; four different bills in Pennsylvania would eliminate the absentee vote without excuse less than two years after Republican lawmakers passed it.
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second Republican in the House, captured the party mood when on Sunday he declined to say the election was not stolen from Trump. “Once the voters are counted, yes, he’s the rightful president,” Scalise said in an interview with ABC News’s Jonathan Karl, speaking of Joe Biden. “But if you want to ignore the fact that there were states that did not follow their own laws established by law. This is the problem at the heart, that millions of people are still not satisfied and do not want it to happen again.
This is an understatement. There was no problem with the elections. State legislatures have passed laws, courts have interpreted them, and government officials have implemented them. This was true in the states Trump won, such as Texas and North Carolina, as much as in the states he lost. It almost goes without saying that the real problem, the reason Republicans are actually upset, is that Biden is president and Democrats control Congress.
Dedicated to Trump and tied to his election fictions, Republicans are doing all they can to prevent voters from holding them and their leaders accountable. They will limit the vote. They will continue to gerrymander in almost permanent majorities. An Arizona Republican even proposed a legislative veto on the popular vote in presidential elections, under the dubious theory that state legislatures have unconditional, unlimited, and unlimited power to allocate electoral votes.
The good news is that Democrats in Congress have the power to stop a lot of this nonsense, to preemptively weaken the growing wave of voter suppression. All it takes is a simple vote to make the Senate operate by majority rule, as the Founding Fathers intended.