After losing control of Congress and the White House, Republican officials confronted a familiar question: do they adapt to changing political conditions, broadening their agenda and message, or do they try to win back power by rigging the electoral system in the GOP's favor?
The latter is easier and more ideologically satisfying, which explains why Republicans didn't struggle with the choice. The editorial board of the Washington Post summarized matters nicely, accusing the GOP of waging a "war on democracy."
Republicans' war on democracy is gaining steam. Unable to persuade a majority of voters to vote for their presidential standard-bearer or Senate candidates in some key races, many have decided that instead of trying to compete in a free and fair vote they will make the contest less free and less fair.
There's no shortage of evidence. Ken Cuccinelli, for example, has moved from the Trump administration's Department of Homeland Security to something called the Election Transparency Initiative: a multi-million-dollar project intended to defeat any effort designed to make voting easier. Former appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) has also launched a new group, which intends to, among other things, encourage officials to adopt Republican-friendly electoral reforms -- such as making voting by absentee ballot more difficult.
Paul Waldman added yesterday, "Something tells me these aren't the last conservative organizations we'll see devoting themselves to fighting the expansion of voting rights and promoting voter suppression."
But for voting advocates, the groups are just the tip of the iceberg. As Ari Berman explained:
After record turnout in 2020, Republican-controlled states appear to be in a race to the bottom to see who can pass the most egregious new barriers to voting. According to a new analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice, 253 bills to restrict voting access have been introduced in 43 states already this year.
To be sure, that figure includes a great many proposals that won't pass. But some of those measures will be signed into law, will be in effect in time for the 2022 midterms, and will put new barriers between voters and their democracy. This is especially true in Georgia -- by any measure, ground zero for the GOP's "war on democracy" -- which is responding to a series of 2020 defeats by moving forward with wildly unnecessary and impossible-to-defend voter-suppression tactics.
The Post's editorial concluded, "Congress must step in, requiring that states run federal elections in a convenient, open and fair manner. That includes absentee-ballot policies based in reality, ample early voting, smart post-election audits and an end to partisan gerrymandering. Democrats have a bill — H.R. 1 — that would do this and more. It must be a top priority this session."
According to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the Democratic-led House may vote on H.R. 1 -- the "For the People Act" -- as early as next week. (For more on the legislation, check out our coverage from last month.)
I'll have much more to say about this in the coming weeks, but for now, it's worth noting that the House vote isn't really in doubt: H.R. 1 is expected to pass.