The New Abnormal
The New Abnormal
Mar 12, 2021
Damn Right Republicans Are Scared of the Voting Rights Bills
Play • 59 min

Republicans are terrified—with good reason. 

Utah Sen. Mike Lee went viral this week when he sputtered earlier that one of the new voting rights bills making its way through the House was “written in hell by the devil himself.” And Lee’s GOP colleagues didn’t exactly knock the notion down. 

“They should be scared of it,” Rep. Eric Swawell, the California Democrat, tells Molly Jong-Fast on the latest edition of The New Abnormal. “What we saw this past election in Georgia and Arizona —states that have historically made it harder for African-Americans and Latinos to vote—was that when you expand access to the polls, Democrats can win. And so I'm sure it was not comfortable for Georgians and Arizona leaders to certify the results for Joe Biden and [Sens.] Mark Kelly, [Raphael] Warnock and [Jon] Ossoff.” 

“But instead of doing the right thing and standing on the integrity [of the election], they're learning the wrong lesson,” Swalwell adds. “What they're doing now is they're going back and saying, ‘Well, we don't ever want to do that again. We don't ever want to certify a Democratic victory. So let's just change the rules... Let's get rid of early voting. Let's get rid of Sunday voting, which benefits the faith-based communities of Georgia. Let's make it a misdemeanor if you pass out food or water to a long line.... And that way we can protect ourselves from another Democratic victory.’” 

“If we do not pass HR1 and HR4—the two voting rights bills—you will see this institutionalized across the country, and the results will be devastating,” he continues. “HR1 gets rid of the dirty maps of redistricting, gerrymandering, and the dirty money. It strips down to the studs as much as you can legislatively the Citizens United ruling. HR4, The John Lewis Civil Rights act really puts back in place what's called pre-clearance—requiring approval from the courts before you can move polling places or purge voter rolls. And so if there was ever a reason to break the filibuster, which was put in place to block voting rights, it would be to advance both voting rights. It's almost a perfect completion of the circle.”

Then, Justice Democrats spokesperson Walid Shahid talks about how President Biden can avoid the traps that snagged Obama. And Carl Zimmer—a top science reporter for the New York Times and author of Life’s Edge: the Search for What It Means To Be Alive—joins Jong-Fast to discuss the pandemic, and the botched response that we are only now beginning to counteract.

“People knew this was coming for 20, 30 years, and yet we didn't prepare well enough,” he says. “If you look at countries like Nigeria or Senegal, and look at their case rate, their death rate, and all the rest, they have done incredibly well. And, and I was recently listening to a Nigerian disease specialist, talk about why this is. And one reason is that they'd been through Ebola and been through other outbreaks. They know what a virus can do when it goes berserk. And so they coordinated very early lockdowns and everyone was on board and they had good, consistent public health messaging. They didn't have a lot of money, they didn't have a lot of resources, but they were coordinated and effective. And I think we could learn a lot from them. And we should also look to ourselves and say, ‘well, why did we in the United States that makes such a spectacular mess of it.’”

If you haven't heard, every single week The New Abnormal does a special bonus episode for Beast Inside, the Daily Beast’s membership program. where Sometimes we interview Senators...  

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