Photo by Nancy Latham
By Nancy Latham
The For the People Act has been pronounced dead so many times, we’re losing track: after Senator Manchin wrote an op-ed saying that he opposed it in early June; after Republican Senators filibustered a motion to proceed to debate the bill in late June; and after Republicans once again blocked it from being brought to the floor in August. But don’t believe the chatterati – Majority Leader Schumer vowed to make S.1 the first order of business when the Senate returns from recess in mid-September.
Is it bad news that the Senate missed its deadline for democracy? Absolutely. The time urgency is all about gerrymandering, since redistricting can start once states have Census data, which they received on August 12. (Need an entertaining refresher on gerrymandering? Here you go.) Republicans are in control of 187 districts and can regain the House through gerrymandering alone, even if voting patterns remain the same. But is all hope lost? Absolutely not. As Michael Li (a lawyer with the Brennan Center) explains, it’s not too late to pass the For the People Act. And listen to this Pod Save America episode to hear a fairly optimistic take from Amy Walter, the Cook Political Report Editor-in-Chief. She agrees with Li that disaster is not imminent, and we simply can’t tell the future of new district lines.
The fight is far from over. We can win in September when the Senate takes up S.1 again. How do we win? First, we take inspiration from our siblings mobilizing around the country. Activists stayed out #AllNightforVotingRights on the Capitol steps. Song Power for the People sang for 24 hours and 19 minutes in Washington DC, one minute longer than the longest filibuster against civil rights. A protestor sang as he got arrested among 50 others at an action for voting rights to shut down Reagan National Airport in DC. The Poor People’s Campaign marched from Georgetown, TX to Austin, TX. Congressional Black Caucus chair Rep. Joyce Beatty and other Black women activists were arrested at the Capitol. A coalition led by America Stands Up delivered a petition to President Biden on August 12 – watch the rally here. You won’t want to miss John Lewis’s brother! And Indivisible East Bay showed up at a Recess Can’t Wait action at Lake Merritt!
Second, let’s get busy. Our pressure is working- we just need to keep it up! That means calling your Senators every day. Text DEMOCRACY to 333-39 to get daily reminders from the Center for Common Ground! For ideas on what to say, check out this tailored script collection. Some more actions below:
- Most importantly – join us in this brilliant Sierra Club White House letter-writing campaign– and ask three or more friends to join! President Biden is a critical bottleneck getting in the way of amending the filibuster. If he calls on Senate Democrats to amend that Jim Crow relic, they’ll likely fall in line.
- Check out www.passhr1now.org for actions and a way to easily recruit your friends to text DEMOCRACY to 333-39 using text, email, or Facebook.
- Attend the nationwide March for Voting Rights on August 28. Head on up to Sacramento for one of the California marches.
- Contact the White House via their recently opened comment line! Hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 11AM to 3PM Eastern. Call 202-456-1111 and tell President Biden to help end the filibuster! For what to say, check out the Sierra Club talking points here.
As the Poor People’s Campaign says: FORWARD TOGETHER, NOT ONE STEP BACK!
Nancy Latham is on IEB’s Governance Committee. After having spent four long years resisting the t**** agenda, she is thrilled to be part of the movement to build an inclusive democracy. In her day job, she works with non-profits, foundations, and government agencies that support greater equity and justice through initiatives in youth development, education, housing, and community development.