Voting in opposition to For The Individuals Act slaps civil rights within the face

Dear Senator Joe Manchin,

You wrote in your comment in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, “I believe that a partisan electoral law will destroy the already debilitating ties of our democracy, and for that reason I will be voting against the For the People Act.”

What has the power to weaken our democracy other than denying people the right to vote?

If you vote no, you are voting against a bill that will facilitate voting, end gerrymandering in Congress, reform federal campaign finance laws, increase protection from foreign interference in U.S. elections, and strengthen government ethics.

If you vote no, you are ignoring the human suffering and loss during the civil rights movement. Protesters marching from Selma to Montgomery saw flesh torn in the jaws of dogs, skulls broken by batons, lungs suffocated by tear gas, skin peeled from flesh by water cannons.

If you vote no, you are ignoring the truth that James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Henry Schwerner, Henry Dee, Charles Moore, and several African Americans were lynched for fighting for our right to vote.

If you vote no, you are ignoring the truth that Dr. Martin Luther King was murdered for fighting for our right to vote.

In an evenly divided US Senate, your no-vote against the For the People Act is a bullet in the heart of democracy. John Lewis will turn around in the grave.

You go on to write: “Besides, I will not vote in favor of weakening or eliminating the filibuster,” which shares an attitude of Kyrsten Sinema, your Democratic Senator from Arizona.

Let’s get the record right.

The filibuster is as old as the Roman Empire, where it was used to thwart the agendas of political enemies. But in the Jim Crow era, the Southern Democrats revived the insidious tool to kill bills that would make lynching a federal crime and to abolish election taxes that make it difficult for black people to vote.

You may remember Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina speaking for 24 hours and 18 minutes to kill the Civil Rights Act of 1957. You may also remember several senators from the South who used the filibuster to attempt to kill the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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Your stance on preserving the filibuster energizes a relic from one of the darkest periods in United States history.

You argue in your comment that the Democrats are hypocritical for proposing an end to the filibuster despite having supported it in the past. They wrote: “President Donald Trump publicly urged the Republicans in the Senate to get rid of the filibuster. Then it was the Senate Democrats who proudly defended the filibuster. “

I understand what you mean. Hypocrisy is poison for both parties and needs to stop. Yet hypocrisy cannot stop unless we mend its dent in the laws of our nation.

You say you believe that “the right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy, and protecting that right … should never be biased.” Well, Senator, electoral suppression is being done to help political parties win elections. What’s more partisan than that?

The partisans’ coordinated attack on voting rights after the 2020 elections in the United States poses a major threat to our democracy. As you know, several GOP-led states have already taken steps to introduce comprehensive measures to suppress voting. 43 states have passed 253 bills to make voting more difficult by reducing early voting days or restricting access to voting by mail.

How else can we protect the rights of millions who are disenfranchised if we do not support the For The People Act?

“The truth is, there is a better way – if we try to find it together,” you wrote. Exactly. History can show us the way.

History teaches us that black people were once numbered three-fifths of a person. It took bloodshed to give them their full voice.

History teaches us that literacy tests were used to prevent blacks from voting, but “grandfather clauses” allowed white men who failed the tests to vote.

History teaches us that the 19th Amendment allowed white women to vote, but for a while it denied black women.

History teaches us that the Shelby County’s Supreme Court ruling against Holder weakened the 1965 Suffrage Act by reducing transparency and fairness based on race.

History teaches us that partisan gerrymandering creates unfair political disadvantage for blacks.

Will we learn?

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” said the Spanish philosopher George Santayana.

Let’s find a better way not to repeat the history of voter suppression in America.

The better way is to protect our inviolable right to vote by supporting the For the People Act.

Walter P. Suza

Walter Suza from Ames, Iowa, writes frequently on the intersection of spirituality, anti-racism and social justice. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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