Schumer’s Ugly ‘Voting Rights’ Gamble

In a Dear Colleague letter this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warns that if Republicans refuse to support the Democrats’ unconstitutional efforts to nationalize elections, he will move to eliminate legislative checks and balances by blowing up the filibuster. “As former Senator Robert Byrd famously said, Senate Rules ‘must be changed to reflect changed circumstances,’” Schumer argued. “Put more plainly by Senator Byrd, ‘Congress is not obliged to be bound by the dead hand of the past.’”

And by the “past,” Schumer means only a couple of years ago, when he led a record 300-plus filibusters during Donald Trump’s presidency. In 2005, when Republican George W. Bush was president, Schumer, coincidentally, also warned that eliminating the legislative filibuster was a “doomsday” for democracy. “The checks and balances which have been at the core of this republic are about to be evaporated by the nuclear option,” Schumer said. “The checks and balances which say that if you get 51% of the vote, you don’t get your way 100% of the time.”

Indeed. And to avoid looking like a conniving, power-hungry, partisan hypocrite with absolutely no respect for the institution he serves, Schumer rationalizes his assaults on norms by pretending the nation faces an existential threat to “democracy.”

And so, Schumer has fused together two of the contemporary left’s most cynical and pernicious projects. The first is the destruction of the filibuster. This was part of a larger effort to create a direct democracy that can ram through massive, unalterable policies with the smallest of majority in the shortest timeframe. The Democrats tried to do so with their abuses of the reconciliation process, but have failed. Schumer now proposes to nationalize elections by overturning voters’ will and forcing states to adopt chaotic voting regulations he believes will benefit Democrats in the long-term.

But no one has a “right” to vote without an ID. No one has a “right” to ballot-harvest. And many Democrats’ proposals, as in empowering the federal government to mandate gerrymandering and forcing taxpayers to finance congressional campaigns, have absolutely nothing to do with voting rights—nor do proposals meant to dismantle First Amendment protections. Democrats are obsessed with rolling back Citizens United and have proposed that organizations engaging in political discourse must disclose their donors. This would create more bureaucratic obstacles for those who engage in speech.

House Democrats have passed legislation to make it easier for states to count mail in votes received up to 10 days after Election Day. They also require states that they allow ballot-harvesting be allowed. States are also required to ban voter ID laws. States are forced to allow felons to vote. The bill would also allow states to mandate online voter registration, automatic voter registration, and early voting.

OK, I’ve run out of synonyms for “force.”

None of this is the federal government’s business, anyway. If Democrats truly believe that Texas and Georgia voter integrity laws are threatening democracy they would see them resolved in the courts. This is not a pretext to overthrow the system in a power grab. The majority of state regulations Democrats claim to be Jim Crow 2.0 simply reverse some of the anarchic COVID era rules and reinstate standards that are in many blue states and almost all Western countries. If we embraced the Democrats’ evolving definition of “voting rights,” we’d also be forced to treat every election before 2020 as completely illegitimate.

Now, it’s unlikely that Schumer will succeed. During a Democratic caucus meeting, Sen. Kyrsten sinema stated that she would not support the elimination of the filibuster. Sen. Joe Manchin doesn’t seem open to the idea, either. But does it seem likely that Schumer would do it, if he could? Is there any doubt he’s continuing to normalize un-American majoritarianism? Does he want to destroy the Senate?

It is obvious that Democrats are at the brink of losing what would have been a difficult midterm election, despite having failed to pass welfare expansion and dealing wretchedly with a slew omissions by President Obama. Democrats will need to do more to undermine trust in elections, and lean into the idea that supporting basic voter integrity can be racist now that the gerrymandering talk point has been (or should have been) neutralized. I guess you can’t blame the Russian gremlins every election.

In his letter, Schumer compared Republicans who believe Americans should provide photo IDs to vote to “violent insurrectionists.” In truth, Schumer, because of his power, is a bigger threat to the constitutional order than any rando who showed up to riot on Jan. 6. His attacks on the system, unlike their actions, would continue in perpetuity.


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