Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Commentary: Pass HR 1 To Protect Democracy

Commentary: Pass HR 1 To Protect Democracy

One of the throughlines of U.S. history is the progressive expansion of the franchise thanks to the struggle of oppressed Americans to make real the most basic premise of constitutional democracy: “One person, one vote”.

In recent decades, however, there has been a sharp turnaround in this American story, and the country is now facing a full-blown crisis of democracy. States across the country are now rushing to pass laws designed to block and suppress the votes of people of color. Intense gerrymandering is stripping voters, particularly voters of color, of meaningful influence over who they can elect. And Big Money’s dominance of elections is concentrating power in the hands of the rich, white few at the expense of everyone else.

It’s no exaggeration to say that, if these trends aren’t reversed, the United States is on course to cease being a democracy. Instead, we stand to be ruled by a dangerous marriage of corporatist, white supremacist, and fascistic factions.

The good news is, a far-reaching solution is at hand: The For the People Act, the most transformative, pro-democracy legislation since the Voting Rights Act, recently passed the House of Representatives. This legislation, which would counter voter suppression, partisan gerrymandering, and Big Money dominance of politics, will soon come to a vote in the Senate.

The democratic backsliding of recent decades is now gaining dangerous momentum. If we don’t want to live in a world of entrenched racial hierarchy and oligarchic rule, we need a fundamental change in direction. We need The For the People Act.

Brandi Collins-Dexter is a senior fellow at Color Of Change and visiting fellow at the Harvard Shorenstein Center on media, politics, and public policy. Robert Weissman is the president of Public Citizen. This column was produced for the Progressive Media Project, which is run by The Progressive magazine, and distributed by Tribune News Service.