As Democratic senators weigh what to do, if anything, about protecting voting rights at the federal level, important legislative questions hang over head. Does the party have the votes to properly respond to the democratic crisis? Are the pending proposals sufficient to bolster democracy while it's under attack? Do congressional rules need to be altered to respond to the seriousness of the current circumstances?
Each of these questions, and more like them, are predicated on a basic idea: the contemporary Republican Party is moving away from the idea that Americans resolve their differences through free and fair elections, creating a challenge without modern precedent.
But what if there are some officials who simply don't see the threat?
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) broke with colleagues who have said they would "choose democracy" and scrap the filibuster if Republicans tried to block H.R. 1, Democrats' sweeping election reform bill, telling Forbes, "If democracy were in jeopardy, I would want to protect it," but "I don't see it being in jeopardy right now."
Such complacency is difficult to understand.
Earlier this year, a defeated American president went to great lengths to overturn the results of an American election when he didn't like the results. Soon after, that same defeated president directed a violent insurrectionist mob to attack the U.S. Capitol -- Dianne Feinstein's workplace -- for the express purpose of disrupting the democratic process and the certification of an election.
In the months that followed, Republican officials across multiple states began placing indefensible hurdles between Americans and ballot boxes through voter-suppression measures. At the same time, GOP officials are hijacking election administration systems. And actively undermining public confidence in election results. And positioning far-right, anti-election ideologues to serve as Secretaries of State, whose offices oversee elections. And targeting poll workers. And exploring ways to make it more difficult for Americans to turn to the courts in the hopes of protecting voting rights. And intensifying voter-roll purges. And empowering heavy-handed poll watchers. And preparing to exploit gerrymandering to create voter-proof majorities.
And laying the groundwork to allow officials to overturn election results Republicans don't like.
It's against this backdrop that a defeated former president is using his influence to convince as much of the public as he can that the nation's elected leaders are illegitimate and the only election results that can be trusted are the ones he endorses.
This comes on the heels of a four-year effort in which that same former president, while in office, deliberately tried to weaken the pillars of our democracy, targeting democratic institutions and eroding political norms.
Despite all of this, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein reportedly told Forbes magazine that, as far as she's concerned, our democracy is not "in jeopardy right now."
I'm genuinely curious: if the current circumstances do not reflect a democracy in jeopardy, what would? How much further would Republicans have to go to spark a greater level of concern from Feinstein?