Gen Z can’t save American democracy, and the lawmakers who can, are doing very little to do so. The New York Times columnist, Michelle Goldberg, recently wrote “we may be living through a brief interregnum before American democracy is strangled for a generation”. This resonates with me because a Trump ‘democracy’ is all I have known. The actions labeled “abnormal” during his presidency, are continued to be perpetuated by the GOP. Now, the permanence of a Trump tyranny in the government is becoming more possible.
The most powerful Joe in Washington, Manchin, continues to stake his political career on nonexistent bipartisanship. Although West Virginia is culturally conservative, Democrats can't get rid of Senator Manchin. Manchin is successful as a moderate Democrat because his home state is actually relatively economically progressive. Unfortunately for the Democrats, the ‘Manchin effect’ has resulted in the impending doom of the Voting Rights Bill. I believe the fact that voting would become the same on the federal level across all states is the most impactful aspect. Through an expansive set of rules regarding federal elections, one's right to vote would be the same in Georgia as it is in Massachusetts.
The second most powerful Joe in Washington, President Biden, gave a speech on Tuesday, July thirteenth which challenged Republican legislators to stand up and prevent efforts attempting to undermine the right to vote. “Twenty-First-century Jim Crow assault is real," Biden said while asking his colleagues, “Have you no shame?” Tracing these issues back to the Civil War, Biden continued, “Confederates, back then, never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on January the 6th. I’m not saying this to alarm you. I’m saying this because you should be alarmed.”
It is unlikely that President Biden’s attempt to ‘get caught trying’ will convince Manchin to vote for it. When Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, addressed the issue, she failed to mention Biden’s plan to address the filibuster, another roadblock in achieving voting rights. Getting rid of the filibuster would allow for legislation such as the voting rights bill in question to pass in the senate through a simple majority vote. However, this key issue was not brought up during Tuesday’s speech.
Joe Manchin has created a one man senate, and his reasoning for doing so has no grounds. Manchin’s op-ed on the matter states, “the right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy and protecting that right should not be about party or politics.” Yet, Republicans warned they would not open the bill up for debate let alone vote for it, ultimately making the vote about politics. This held true when Democrats advanced it, Republicans used the filibuster to stall and prevent debate. These tactics will continue as long as Sinema and Manchin refuse to abolish the filibuster.
The most concerning aspect is actually one Psaki touched on during a press briefing, “the greatest irony of the Big Lie is that no election in our history has met such a high standard, with over 80 judges, including those appointed by his predecessor, throwing out all challenges.” Yet again confirming the legitimacy of the election and confirming the necessity of the Voting Rights bill.
Joe Manchin is preventing a solution to a solvable problem which the Republicans caused. They created it in the months leading up to the election as early as April 7, 2020, when Trump first criticized the security of mail in ballots. Evolving a sense of insecurity among his voters, hence creating The Big Lie. The most frustrating of Manchin’s justifications is that he essentially blames his own party for being too partisan. “We now are witnessing that the fundamental right to vote has itself become overly politicized.” He is living in an alternate reality, one in which insurrectionists never scaled the walls of the Capitol chanting to hang the Vice President.
Everything hangs in the balance of this voting rights war. If all fails, the most diverse and progressive generation yet may enter the electorate to find it shockingly similar to that of the government during Reconstruction. Those participating in America’s democracy should be as diverse as those living in it. If the barriers that are immersed in the voter suppression laws come to fruition, it could prevent any political emergence of Gen Z.
Staff Writer: Abi Baker
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Project You