Reviews | How Democratic Senate Candidates Can Put Democracy on the Ballot

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While the White House has rightly focused on the economy, the multifaceted crisis of democracy has not abated. Laws to suppress the vote and subvert elections have taken hold, the Supreme Court is moving to rewrite the franchise, and 2020 election deniers are on the ballot in dozens of races.

Democratic Senate candidates would do well to focus on those efforts. They should make the GOP’s campaign to diminish the rights of millions of Americans a central issue in the midterm elections.

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With few exceptions, incumbents in the Republican Senate have repeatedly voted to block the suffrage debate; applauded the prospect of removing women’s constitutional protection from forced births; endorsed the defeated former president’s coup attempt (acquitting him, among other things, in the second impeachment trial); and refused to consider reasonable police reforms despite ample evidence of systematic abuse. These are not popular positions, but through filibuster Republicans have thwarted bipartisan attempts at reform.

A savvy Democratic Senate candidate would run on a “democracy restoration” platform aimed at empowering voters. Such a campaign would begin with a pledge to reform the filibuster to overcome resistance from Democratic senses Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Regardless of the style of reform (e.g., requiring opponents of closure to physically occupy the Senate floor, providing exceptions for constitutional questions), the goal would be the same: The Senate minority should not be able to block reforms that protect or restore constitutional rights.

Democrats would do well to be specific about what kinds of reforms are feasible. As public opposition to forced births grows, they should commit to providing federal legal protection for access to abortion (favored by more than 60 percent voters). During this time, a limited package electoral reforms (e.g., protection of poll workers, non-partisan redistricting, reauthorization of the preclearance process under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act) may be combined with clarification of the electoral count law to reaffirm the limited role of the vice president, prevent losers from soliciting bogus alternative slates, and increase the number of legislators needed to challenge electoral votes.

Among the most important reforms would be an overhaul of the Supreme Court, which has self-destructed due to a rampant disregard for precedent, abuse of the so-called phantom role and refusal of judges to adopt the code of justice. strict ethics applicable to other judges of the Federal Court. The court’s credibility has plummeted and court reform enjoys an astonishing level of support, with 67% of voters favoring term limits and 74% backing a mandatory code of ethics.

Democratic candidates are also expected to consider a wildly popular reform proposal launched by the Supreme Court’s Presidential Committee. Although the commission members were unable to reach a consensus on the solutions, she noted that “[p]proposals for staggered eighteen-year terms…would ensure that all presidents have the opportunity to appoint two justices to the Supreme Court in each term they serve. According to its supporters, this predictability would find a more appropriate balance than the current system between two important characteristics of our constitutional system of checks and balances: judicial independence on the one hand and the long-term responsiveness of the judiciary to our democratic system of representation on the other hand. The other.” Such a reform would relieve judges driven by partisan bigotry and lower the stakes in court confirmation fights.

In short, Democrats should enthusiastically take on Republican senators’ obstruction, disregard for democratic principles, and radical mission to deny basic rights to millions of Americans. The system is “not working,” largely because a far-right minority is holding the Constitution hostage and the Supreme Court has gone mad. Vowing to return voters to power would be constitutionally sound and politically sound.


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