3 of Biggest Issues Conservatives Face in 2022

We’re just one week into 2022 and already political debates are heating up in Washington over election integrity, the Senate filibuster, and spending, among other things.

It’s clear that 2022 will be a significant year in the fight for American liberty. Jessica Anderson, executive director of Heritage Action for America, said that conservatives will be facing at least three major battles over the next year. (Heritage Action is a grassroots partner organization of The Heritage Foundation, whose news outlet is The Daily Signal.

“The fight to protect the sanctity of life, I think, is going to be in the forefront of so many voters’ minds, really, throughout the year,” Anderson says. 

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will determine not only whether or not Roe v. Wade is overturned, but also affect the lives of millions of unborn babies. 

In addition to the issue of abortion, Anderson says, election integrity and President Joe Biden’s liberal agenda more broadly are significant issues to follow in 2022. 

Also on today’s show: 

  • Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris give speeches on the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot. 
  • Former President Donald Trump claims that Biden used his Jan. 6 speech to distract from his failures as president.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis takes action to limit America’s dependence on China.

Listen to the podcast below, or read the lightly edited transcript.

Virginia Allen: We are only a week into 2022 and already there are major discussions taking place in Washington, D.C., about election integrity, filibuster, spending, etc. Many of us are asking ourselves the question: What are the big issues in 2022 that conservatives need to be concerned about, worry about, and prepare to fight for?

Jessica Anderson, the executive Director of Heritage Action for America is here to answer all your questions. Jessica Anderson, welcome back to Heritage Action for America.

Jessica Anderson: I’m glad you were here. It’s great to be here.

Allen: Yeah, it’s wonderful to be kicking off the year with you and talking about, OK, what are these big fights ahead? We spoke a little bit before the show and you say there’s really three major things that come to mind right away.

One is, in general, the Biden agenda. We need to understand where the Biden administration is headed and what the implications are for us all as Americans. That’s a big category, but then, of course, we also have the issue of election integrity, specifically at the state level, and abortion, something that’s so close to the hearts of so many conservatives.

Let me start by talking about abortion. In December, the Supreme Court heard oral argument for the Dobbs case. [v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization]Roe V. Wade could be overturned by a new case What is the current situation? What can we anticipate as we look forward to 2022 and see what the future holds on the abortion issue?

Anderson: The fight to protect the sanctity of life, I think, is going to be forefront of so many voters’ minds really throughout the year.

The Supreme Court is still considering the case. We’ve had the oral arguments from the Dobbs case, that was the first week of December. The oral arguments were held in the Texas Supreme Court case, which was also heard by the Supreme Court.

Both of those cases ended at the front of the Supreme Court’s minds as we concluded 2021. And then now, when we expect decisions to be passed down later this spring, I think we’ll have some clarity on where the court is going to come down on the sanctity of life and on some of the main principles around Roe v. Wade.

What’s interesting to watch, though, is that some states are already anticipating that the court rules to essentially overturn the main principle of Roe. If that happens, the entire decision about abortion regulation will be left up to states.

It’s not that abortion then becomes illegal, it then becomes something that states have to weigh in on and regulate or not regulate within their own state. Some states are doing better than others.

As we watch the legislative sessions across the country open, I believe that this will be an issue that they address as both general assemblies and legislatures return to session this January. Some at the beginning February.

It will be interesting to see what they do about it. Are they willing to wait 24 hours? Do they pay a heartbeat bill Do they treat fetal pain There are many ways to look at this issue from the legislative perspective. It’s really going to be up for these state legislative leaders and these lawmakers to decide what sort of policy they’re going to put forward.

I would keep an eye out for that, I think certain as these sessions start back off here at end of January and some have already began as of this coming Monday.

Allen: Yeah. I think that’s really, really important to explain because we sometimes hear from the left this language of, OK, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, it’s just the end of the world for them and there’s no abortions going to be allowed anywhere in America, and that’s not accurate.

What you just explained, it returns back to the states and then it’s in the hands of states to make the policy decisions that they want to around abortion.

We’ve already seen with states like California coming out really aggressively, saying almost like, “We’re going to be this abortion safe haven.” Of course, that opens a whole other debate and shifts the focus of the pro-life movement. It’s really important that we draw the distinctions and parse that out clearly.

Anderson: Yeah, and I think there’s a lot of goodness in states taking the reins on this issue. I mean, just look at what Texas was capable of doing with the heartbeat bill. The law will continue to be in effect for as long as it is. This will mean that more babies are being saved every day.

Whether or not it fails in the courts or not, I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t know what’s going to happen, and we certainly don’t know the full conclusion of that yet, but what we do know is, for as long as it stands, more babies are being saved. That’s something that Texas did not even 60 days ago.

Allen: We’re celebrating, it’s been so exciting to see so many states saying, “Nope, we’re going to protect life.” It’s so, so good.

A second major state issue is election integrity. We’re seeing a lot of debates already so far, just in the first week of this year, around that idea, that concept. Your argument is that we need to focus on this at the state level. Why? Why is this important?

Anderson: The integrity of elections and the desire to return trust. sanctity. support, security. fairness. all of that transparency back at the ballot box is a top priority for many Americans. This is something we see in the grassroots. Our Sentinels keep it up every day. They’re asking us, what are we doing to secure the vote?

There’s two ways to look at this, one on the federal side. The Democrat leadership [Senate Majority Leader]Chuck Schumer [House Speaker]Nancy Pelosi [President]Joe Biden [Vice President]Kamala Harris and the other senators have made it clear that Kamala Harris is their No. Their No. 1 priority at the start of 2021 was to pass an overhaul of the federal system, which would result in a federal overtake and a reorganization of our electoral system through their No. 1 legislative bill, HR1/S 1, is titled We the People.

That has been retitled. It is not “We the People,” it’s “For the Corrupt Politicians Act,” because it basically ushers in an entire wave of liberal and Democrat victories for decades to come because of how the entire election system would be overhauled.

It then pursues commonsense, which is a commonsense policy such as voter ID. More than 85% of Americans support it. It would eliminate it completely and get rid of all voter ID laws, even if they were passed by states. It’s an overhaul, it’s a complete override.

The federal way to look at this is simply to say, “We need to block the federal overreach of our election systems.”

Now, conservative activists, as well as conservative senators, and members of Congress, who were so active about this topic all through 2021, did a wonderful job keeping the GOP Conference together and keeping conservatives in sync. The grassroots made it clear that they didn’t want to see HR 1 move.

Throughout the year, as different elements of the bill—first it was HR 1, then HR 4, and then now it’s kind of a version of the two with a [Sen. Joe]Manchin reached a compromise with himself and all other iterations of the deal failed. They were unable to pass the Senate.

As we start 2022, we’ve already seen in the first eight days of the year a huge rush of energy from the left to return to that road map to nuke the filibuster and pass this federal overreach. Conservatives have the same goal as last year: to block that bill.

The state level is the second approach to the issue. There are so many crucial reforms needed to ensure that elections are secure through the states. State legislators like [in]Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Iowa and Texas all stepped up this year to offer reform packages that did two things.

They wanted to make it easy to vote for legitimate voters and difficult for cheaters to cheat. “Easy to vote, hard to cheat,” that was the mantra. The reforms that we saw move through were everything from voter ID to securing absentee ballots, to limiting the number of days around early voting, to making sure voter rolls are updated and clean, so if someone passed away that they’re not being carried on a voter roll for year after year after year, which just asks for more fraud.

This issue is so important because it’s just been completely ingrained in our psyche as American citizens, because the ability to vote is the bedrock of our republic, it’s the bedrock of American democracy. When that feels threatened or it’s not protected and secure or transparent, that’s really where you see freedom-loving grassroots Americans come out and really demand something different from their state lawmakers.

I would pay more attention to states like Florida and Georgia that are going to push harder on election reform bills in the next legislative session. And I would look for new states like South Carolina or Tennessee to get involved, to help put these reforms through.

We’ve put together a whole list that’s based on The Heritage Foundation’s research from the Meese Center that outlines what these reforms can be. All this information is available at saveourelections.com. It then integrates back with Heritage’s brand new product called the Election Integrity ScorecardThis document shows the state’s needs and shows them where they need to make changes.

Then there’s actual model legislation that they can download that is a great starting point that lawmakers can use, can build off of to make sure that their state is in the best shape possible heading into 2022.

These two goals are to stop federal overreach and continue to address state-based reforms. This will be the focus of conservatives in 2022.

Allen: Yeah, yeah. We’re already seeing movement, as you mentioned, from states like South Carolina that are saying, “OK, we want to adopt some of these policies, like Georgia has done, to make sure that our elections are safer.” That’s a really good sign, that’s encouraging.

Anderson: Yes, definitely. Keep an eye out. I think there’s such an interesting phenomenon going on right now as more and more activists realize how much power state governments have. It’s like during the lockdowns, right?

Allen: COVID demonstrated all that power the states have.

Anderson: Exactly. We looked around and we said, “Who’s locking us down? Who’s closing my business, shutting down my school?” Well, it’s state governments.

We realized that activists needed to build relationships with our state legislators, our governors, for the first time in a very long time. We must know the names of these men and be able call them to voice our grievances.

I think that’s why you’re starting to see some of this shift, where activists are being able to do both at the same time, still work on federal accountability, work with their members of Congress, of course, their senators, but then also build those deep relationships with state lawmakers.

Allen: Yeah. That’s going to be interesting this year to watch that continue to play out, because you’re right, it’s so important.

Now, you mentioned filibuster. Of course, this flows right into the Biden administration’s larger agenda for 2022. There’s a big debate right now over the filibuster. We heard a lot about it last year. Obviously, it’s not gone away and it’s right in line with all this conversation about election integrity and the federal takeover of elections.

Let’s take a look at this. Where do you think we are right now? Filibuster simply refers to the requirement for 60 votes to pass legislation in the Senate.

There’s a part of me that has to just step back and laugh a little bit in this conversation because I’m almost like, well, doesn’t the left realize that if they do away with the filibuster that then if conservatives again control the Senate, well, that’s not going to go in their favor? It seems obvious, but somehow they don’t seem to be picking up on that.

Anderson: Well, it’s a two-step power grab is basically the best way to think about it.

First, they want the Senate to be completely shut down. It’s been the cooling kettle for policies that are coming over from the House. It’s allowed the voice of the moderate to be heard, it’s allowed the voice of the minority to be heard and to be protected. It’s ensured that the country doesn’t yo-yo back from one position to another as power changes.

Filibuster is more than a simple Senate procedure. It’s really become part of our vernacular because of what it protects and because of what it means.

The liberal elites want that to be squashed and they want it to nuke it. This is their second step for the power, which is going back. Nuking the filibuster means they can pass HR 1/S 1. It is the only way to overtake our elections federally. They know that they can’t get that bill through without nuking the filibuster.

It’s not just the procedure that we’re talking about, it’s what that procedure then opens up the door for. First would be HR 1, and then everything that follows is a complete laundry list of the left’s wish list for the last two to decades, everything from the Green New Deal to adding additional states, to adding additional Supreme Court justices. The list goes on.

When you look at this, you realize that this is a power grab and it’s meant to cement Democrat policy, legislative agenda, liberal reengineering of American society in the most aggressive way that we would’ve seen to date.

Now, thankfully, there’s two senators that have said “no,” that they’re not budging. That’s Sen. [Kyrsten] Sinema of Arizona and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, two senators we’ve heard a lot from and a lot about throughout 2021.

We’re going to continue to hear from them in ’22. Manchin is already making headlines. He’s put a stop to Biden’s Build Back Better, or “Build Back Broke” plan, as I like to call it. That’s that legislative agenda that we’ve been watching from the Biden administration. But he’s also said no to this, which is interesting.

The left has attempted to make use of the success of states in passing electoral integrities. They’ve tried to reframe those successes to say, “No, those states are racist. They’re disenfranchising voters. This is white supremacy.”

Every single time that they’ve done that, they’ve tried to create this narrative to push back, to have a voting rights carve out for the filibuster, to say, “Look how crazy the states are. This must be dealt with federally. They can’t, we will.”

Every time they’ve done that though, they’ve failed. The Washington Post even comes out and gives Biden four Pinocchios because of mischaracterizations of the Georgia electoral integrity bill.

I mean, it’s not for nothing that we are a year into this, they haven’t been successful in passing this because the American people recognize that these are not crazy bills, this is not extremism that’s going on in the states. These are good, wholesome reforms we all want. They were bipartisan before everything became partisan.

This is a story. If they’re successful in doing it, and I don’t think that they will, but if they are successful in doing it, then the filibuster will be nuked and it will give the next 12 months, or however much longer there’s Democrat control of the Congress and the White House, it’ll give a complete wish list, the entrée to move through and to find its way to Biden’s desk.

Conservatives must be diligent. We should continue to call and support Manchin and Sinema, urge them to say “no.”

Allen: What is your wish-list? You mentioned a few. I’m especially thinking about our economy. I am a young person who is looking to the future, with goals to purchase a house one-day, and my brother in law has his own business. So, where are we right now? What are the implications for our economy if Biden gets his way?

Anderson: Yeah. Americans are left behind by the Biden economic domestic agenda. It is just that. It does it in every aspect of public policy.

When you look at energy and increasing our energy dependence on other countries as opposed to American oil, when you look at how he’s dealt with the supply chain, when you look at how he’s dealt with health care and COVID readiness versus lockdowns and not getting enough testing or vaccines out to Americans that want them, I mean, it’s literally one thing after the other.

The hardest part about the Biden domestic agenda, in my mind, is that he doesn’t have a mandate to do this. He did not win in a clear majority, and he did so without overwhelming support. It was close. And there’s no mandate for him to come in and to do this from the people. His only mandate should be, “Am I giving more freedom or less freedom to the American people?” I would argue he needs to be giving more freedom.

There’s a lot that’s at stake. The Build Back better plan, which included some of the more severe policies, is now dead. Whether or not they are able to chop the bill up and move different parts of it, we don’t know yet. It will all depend on the outcome of negotiations over the next 10 to15 days.

Congresswoman [Pramila]Jayapal, the head of Progressive Caucus was calling for Biden to cut and dice the executive order and get started. We know what will happen. It won’t end well, because much of that is unconstitutional to do. They may not go that route, but I think you’re going to see a lot of pressure from progressives to do it like that.

Then regardless, Manchin will have the pen on pulling bits and pieces of the package and whether or not it’s in a Build Back Better skinny version or a light version, or is it the full behemoth of a bill that is what we saw at the end of 2021.

Allen: Yes, because Manchin was the one who put the brakes on it.

Anderson: He said “no.”

Allen: Yeah.

Anderson: Yeah, he said “no” and they can’t pass it without him.

Allen: Yeah, yeah. Wow, that was a lot of riding on him. Wild times in America

Anderson: We’re all moving to West Virginia so we can be West Virginia activists.

Allen: There you are. Jessica, what more? Jessica, what are some other things conservatives need to be aware and think about in 2022?

Anderson: Well, I’d be remiss if we didn’t at least acknowledge that we have a huge midterm election that’s coming up.

Volunteering at the polls is a great opportunity for people to get involved. You can either be a poll worker or a poll watcher. You can help to get out the vote by going door to door, talking in your community about these issues, making sure people vote, and making sure that you vote.

I mean, so many people moved because of COVID to either more free red states or they just picked up and moved back home with their families, or college students that were in school but now they’re remote from home. I mean, the abundance of needs for voter registration couldn’t be more obvious going into ’22.

Make sure you have a plan to vote, make sure you’re registered, talk to your friends and family, do your American civic duty. There will be a lot going on in 2022, November and the midterms. Keep an eye on this and see how you might be able to get involved.

Then I think there’s going to be a lot of fits and starts throughout the year when it comes to, is there an additional recovery package? What happens to additional appropriations for defense spending? All of the regular order in a legislative calendar. We will want to be on top of it. Conservative activists will be open to discussing it as these things become more apparent.

But you’ve nailed it, the three big pillars are this legislative agenda that Biden is trying to push through the Congress now, what happens post-Dobbs and what that influence and impact is on Roe v. Wade, and then protecting the filibuster and the fight for election integrity as it spreads to the state and federal levels.

Allen: Yeah, yeah. Jessica, you are Heritage Action for America’s executive director. We are all very impressed by the incredible work you do. Please tell us briefly about what you do and how you can help others. I know you have a strong grassroots army, and you’re always looking for new members.

Anderson: We need your support. You’ll never be turned away or not given plenty of work to do, that’s for sure.

Heritage Action is a network consisting of 2,000,000 grassroots activists from coast-to-coast. We have more than 100 activists in every congressional district. We engage directly at the federal and state levels with lawmakers to make sure they understand the conservative position on any given issue.

Volunteers can take part in anything from watching the election, and working as watchers and poll workers, to giving testimony at state committee hearings, to working on coalition letters, engaging with social media, and writing letters to the editor.

No matter what your time and abilities, we will place you to work, no matter what. We have eight field offices across the country, four more that are rolling out this next year, so there’s a role for everybody.

The time to be an activist, there couldn’t be warmer waters, let’s say it like that. We’d love to have you and you can find out more at heritageaction.com.

Allen: Awesome. Jessica, thank-you so much for taking the time to write. We are truly grateful.

Anderson: I am grateful for your time.

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