Gene Nichol: Worried that President is not fighting hard enough to preserve democracy

Gene Nichol

Be sure to check out UNC law professor Gene Nichol’s powerful commentary in today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer. In it, he tackles the issue of voting rights and his worry that President Biden is being insufficiently vigorous in his response to the national GOP voter suppression effort.

As Nichol observes, Biden’s unwillingness to do whatever it takes, including fighting/ending the Senate filibuster, in order to pass truly meaningful voting rights legislation leads to the conclusion that he fails to grasp the desperate nature of this fight.

After pointing out that Biden’s victory last year was ultimately attributable to “a massively engaged citizenry” that united to evict Donald Trump from the White House, he puts it this way:

It is also clear, beyond peradventure, that across the country the Republican party is out to disenfranchise as big a share of that uprising as possible. Hundreds of state suppression proposals are in the hopper. Dozens are already enacted. The principal goal of the Republican party is to ensure permanent, minority rule. Abraham Lincoln be damned.

The fight for our democracy is, by a very wide margin, the greatest issue we face as a people. Bar none. The notion that anyone could regard (anti-democratic) Senate prerogative, or Joe Manchin, or infrastructure, or even the economy, as in the same ballpark is baffling. Or much worse. I worry that while one side is waging war against democracy full steam, the president is saying “we’ll see, it might work out.”

There is but one pro-democracy party in the United States these days. It has to be all-in. One side or the other. Like the ancient labor and civil rights anthem. No compromise. No gentility. No hiding from the stakes. No pretending Republicans wouldn’t really do in democracy. They’ve shown who they are. Pretending otherwise is cowardice. As Maya Angelou put it: ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them.’

One hopes that someone on the Biden staff shares the entire essay with their boss.

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