President Biden says in Philadelphia speech “US democracy in dire danger since civil war”
The speech in the city, in which the founding document of the US democratic system was written and signed in 1787, is Biden’s most high-profile foray into a controversy that both Republicans and Democrats describe in somber terms.
According to the White House and Democrats in Congress, under the guise of increasing electoral security, Republicans are using state lawmakers to restrict voting rights across the country.
Republicans – led by former President Donald Trump and his unprecedented campaign based on lies to undo his electoral defeat to Biden – insist that stricter electoral rules are needed to tackle electoral fraud.
That means things like reducing postal votes, shortening opening hours for elections, and imposing heavy fines on election workers who make mistakes. While Republicans say such measures would cleanse the US election, Democrats point to an already extremely low fraud rate and say the measures target black and other non-white voters who tend to vote Democrats.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Biden would “provide the moral arguments why denial of the right to vote is a form of repression and a form of silence.”
Biden sees this as “the worst challenge to our democracy since the civil war,” she said.
However, it’s not clear what difference Biden can make.
The Democrats in Congress have tried to pass federal laws that would protect access to polls, but by a thin majority, they have failed.
The impasse has put the spotlight on the Senate rule known as the filibuster, which custom – if not the law – requires 60 senators out of 100 to pass most of the laws.
This ensures that Republicans can easily block any bill as the chamber is 50:50 – but Biden was reluctant to push for changes.
In the most dramatic episode of the ongoing struggle for access to voters, Texas Democratic lawmakers fled the state Monday to prevent a quorum in the legislature where the Republican majority wanted to vote on new restrictions.
The Democrats’ exodus marked the second time they had used the unusual tactic to derail the law. The Texans made their way to Washington, where they lobbied members of Congress to promote federal electoral protection laws.