Donald Trump appeared on Fox Business this week and was asked about recent developments on Capitol Hill. Predictably, the former president complained that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is "a disaster," condemned the popular new infrastructure law, and whined that Republicans didn't go far enough to threaten the United States with default before raising the debt ceiling.
But before moving on, Trump also emphasized what he saw as his most pressing concern.
"And we have a bigger problem, because they have a so-called voting rights bill, which is a voting rights for Democrats, because Republicans will never be elected again if that happens, if that passes."
The on-air comments came on the heels of a related written statement from two weeks ago in which he said the Freedom to Vote Act would "make it almost impossible for Republicans to get elected in the future."
To the extent that reality still has any meaning, these claims are demonstrably absurd. Virginia, for example, implemented some important and progressive voter-access reforms in recent years, and Republican candidates nevertheless scored major victories up and down the ballot in last month's elections.
But factual details aside, consider the subtext of Trump's arguments: The more Americans are allowed to participate in their own democracy, the more difficult it is for Republicans to win elections. It's both a recipe for partisan voter-suppression tactics, and a subtle acknowledgment that, from Trump's own perspective, the American mainstream isn't eager to buy what the GOP is selling.
As for the voting rights legislation the former president is eager to derail, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer continues to make new strides, endorsing a plan this week to advance the Freedom to Vote Act by creating an exception to the chamber's filibuster rules. As NBC News reported, the New York Democrat addressed the strategy again last night during a special conference meeting.
Schumer said on the call that the Senate would vote on a revised version of the Build Back Better Act and a potential rules change — if Republicans do not drop the filibuster — early in the new year.... Changing the filibuster rules would allow a vote on sweeping legislation to expand access to the ballot box and safeguard against election subversion.
Before wrapping up for the calendar year, there was evidence of meaningful momentum among Senate Democrats for protecting voting rights, even if that means creating a carve-out to the institution's existing filibuster rules. Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona continues to stand in the way of progress, but Schumer is clearly determined to push forward anyway.
Watch this space.