This Deserves Full-Throated Support

So long as Republicans continue to control the Senate–and a know-nothing buffoon continues to occupy and degrade the Oval Office–this bill is unlikely to become law.

That’s too bad, because it gets to the essence of our genuine “national emergency.”

The bill, which is known as H.R. 1, or the For the People Act, and was sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), would create a more responsive and representative government by making it easier for voters to cast a ballot and harder for lawmakers to gerrymander, by transforming how campaigns are funded to amplify the voices of ordinary Americans, and by bolstering election security and government ethics.

Rather than treating structural issues hindering democratic decision making in separate proposals, the bill addresses a number of the systemic weaknesses that enable political game-playing and “dirty tricks”–  voting rights, gerrymandering, campaign finance reform, and ethics.

The Brennan Center description of the measure (linked above) highlights several of the most important provisions–restoring the Voting Rights Act, ensuring that everyone in the country gets at least two weeks within which to cast an early ballot, campaign finance reforms, and a requirement that all voting machines have paper trails. Among the most important are measures affecting voter registration and discouraging gerrymandering:

Streamlining Voter Registration: H.R. 1 would bring Automatic and Same-Day Voter Registration to voters across the country. Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) is a transformative reform under which eligible voters are automatically registered when they provide information to the government at the DMV or other government agencies, unless they opt out. Since 2015, 15 states and the District of Columbia have approved AVR, leading to big gains in registration. If adopted nationwide, AVR could add as many as 50 million new voters to the rolls. Same-Day Registration (SDR) allows eligible voters to register at the polls on Election Day, making it less likely that voters will be disenfranchised by last-minute registration problems. It is already offered in 16 states. Combined with AVR, SDR would solve most of the serious registration problems voters experienced in 2016 and 2018….

Gerrymandering Reform. H.R. 1 would curb extreme partisan gerrymandering by ensuring that states draw congressional districts using independent redistricting commissions whose members represent diverse communities across the state, by establishing fair redistricting criteria, and by mandating greater transparency for the redistricting process.

Taken as a whole, this bill would make considerable progress toward ensuring fair elections with results that accurately reflect the will of the voters. In a sane world, opposing it would be tantamount to opposing motherhood and apple pie–so why do I say that Republicans will never let it see the light of day?

The answer to that (entirely rhetorical) question is obvious to anyone who follows political news: without gaming the system, today’s GOP cannot win enough votes to control the House or Senate. If not for the Electoral College, the party–at least as it exists today– would rarely if ever win the White House.

America desperately needs a grown-up GOP, one that’s able to compete for votes in fair elections. While we wait for the emergence of such a party, however, we need fair elections.

Passing this bill would be a major step in that direction.


  1. The fool is supposed to be announcing a ‘break through’ this afternoon at 3pm Eastern… (on the ‘border wall’) any bets it is a money grab from emergency services ? I for one have had enough of this clown show – the BITCH GOTTA GO!!!!

  2. Interesting that this is one of the most important pieces of legislation to come to the floor in years, yet very few of us even knew it had been submitted. The Dems should be shouting from the rooftops about this one. Where’s the media?

  3. It’s nice that someone is talking about what Congress is doing with a new bill and not letting the shut down monopolize the conversation like the media is. That’s a new reality TV show.

    This is a much needed bill. I suspect the opponents will cite states’ rights and that this is an over reach on the part of the federal government.

    We also need solid campaign finance reform if we wish to restore our democracy and laws that limit the power of lobbyists who represent the plutocracy.

  4. My advice this Saturday morning, to all of you, is to enjoy the weekend the best you can with your family and friends and forget the Monster for a few days. There’s nothing you can do about him right now, maybe never.

    From “The Undiscovered Self” by C. J. Jung (Little Brown and Company, Boston, 1957):

    “It is astounding that man, the instigator, inventor and vehicle of all these developments, the originator of all judgments and decisions and the planner of the future, must make himself such a quantite negligeable [NEGATIVE QUANTITY]. The contradiction, the paradoxical evaluation of man himself, is in truth a matter for wonder, and one can only explain it as springing from an extraordinary UNCERTAINTY OF JUDGMENT—in other words, man is an enigma to himself. This is understandable, seeing that he lacks the means of comparison necessary for self-knowledge. He knows how to distinguish himself from other animals in point of anatomy and physiology, but as a conscious, reflecting, being, gifted with speech, he lacks all criteria for self judgment. He is on this planet a unique phenomenon which he cannot compare with anything else. The possibility of comparison and hence of self-knowledge would arise only if he could establish relations with quasi-human mammals inhabiting other stars.

    Until then man must continue to resemble a hermit who knows that in respect of comparative anatomy he has affinities with the anthropoids but, to judge by appearances, is extraordinarily different from his cousins in respect of his psyche.” p.43-44

    “Everywhere in the West that there are subversive minorities [such as the Tea Party] who, sheltered by our humanitarianism and our sense of justice, hold the incendiary torches ready, with nothing to stop the spread of their ideas except the critical reason of a single, fairly intelligent, mentally stable stratum of the population. One should not, however, overestimate the thickness of this stratum. It varies from country to country in accordance with national temperment. Also it is regionally dependent on public education and is subject to the influence of acutely disturbing factors of a political and economic nature. Taking plebiscites as a criterion, one could on an optimistic estimate put its upper limit at about 40 per cent of the electorate. A rather more pessimistic view would not be unjustified either, since the gift of reason and critical reflection is not of one of man’s outstanding peculiarities, and even where it exists it proves to be wavering and inconstant, the more so, as a rule, the bigger the political groups are. The mass crushes out the insight and reflection that are still possible with the individual, and this necessarily leads to doctrinaire and authoritarian
    tyranny if ever the constitutional state should succumb to a fit of weakness.” p. 4-5

  5. The media had a blurb about it several weeks ago. This law, if passed, would cause significant damage to the Koch brothers control of 24 states. There will be a major battle over this one.

    As for a “grown-up GOP”…that’s not going to happen anytime soon. All the ingredients for mass ignorance still remain. The Deplorable Nation will persist but that’s not the problem. Convincing Americans to exercise their rights to vote is the bigger problem. 😉

  6. Robin makes a good point that states’ righters will make in opposition to HR #1 due to Madison’s assignment of voting procedures to the states. However, we are talking substance and not procedures, and there are federal rights to be observed in sifting out who gets to do what (see one man-one vote, etc.).

    I say this bill is great and a prelude to more legislation designed, finally, to make the fruits of democracy available to all rather than those appointed by the Kochs and other libertarian greedhogs. So it’s dead in the Senate? No problem – it will serve as an excellent debate point come 2020. You gotta get started somewhere.

  7. I can understand why Mitch McConnell is so strongly opposed to this bill. Opinion | Mitch McConnell: Behold the Democrat Politician Protection Act,

    The reforms it contains would be a disaster for Republicans, further weakening the position of the GOP. Expect, therefore for them to fight tooth and nail to prevent it becoming law. If it can’t get through this Congress, it will after 2020.

  8. Just wondering. Donald Trump is notorious for accusing others of doing illegal things he’s in the habit of doing. For 8 years, he hounded Obama about not having a birth certificate. Is anybody absolutely sure Trump has an American birth certificate?

  9. As we struggle to resolve our genuine “national emergency”; the Trump party is making a joke of the National Emergency that IS Trump! An AOL news site (for those who don’t use it, AOL is far right leaning in its views) there is a site titled, “*DONALD TRUMP’S PRESIDENCY* Follow President Donald Trump As He Shapes America’s Future” “Republican National Committee, Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale and Donald Trump, Jr., hyped the initiative and its website on Twitter Friday.” Below I copied and pasted what we are up against.

    “Since Chuck and Nancy keep stonewalling the President, why don’t we send the wall to them, brick by brick, until they agree to secure the border!” tweeted Trump Jr.

    The website itself encourages people to “send a brick to Chuck and Nancy” as part of the “fight to fund” Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Its home page offers people two options to either “send Nancy a brick” or to “send Chuck a brick.” It features a photograph of a red brick superimposed with an SMS number to which people can text to donate to the cause — and the claim that enough fentanyl entered the U.S. in 2018 to “kill every American.”

    “America desperately needs a grown-up GOP, one that’s able to compete for votes in fair elections. While we wait for the emergence of such a party, however, we need fair elections.”

    As long as McConnell heads the Senate; support of the playpen full of GOP members will remain active and continue stopping needed change as has been happening since 2010. McConnell is currently the GOP brick wall in our way of passing any legislation even resembling H.R. 1.

  10. While I see no hope for this bill to be passed until after 2020 there is one big thing Democrats can do now that will help to get it passed then. That is to know and understand the bill and talk it up wherever and wherever possible. Keep it alive until 2020. Force both sides to publicly address its issues starting with the primaries.

  11. If this is the bill that would also require that PACs list their donors it is already dead.

    I read an article a few days about this bill in which McConnell stated that he would not allow a vote on such a terrible bill because forcing large donor’s names to be revealed would be tantamount to harming Free Speech. If those donors have nothing to hide what could the problem possibly be? The only free speech that matters in this country is that of the wealthy and powerful.

    I’m just gonna say it – I wish McConnell would have a stroke or a heart attack and be forced to resign……. or…….

    Until he is gone his wealthy donors will continue to dominate and control everything from the economy to wealth to health and the environment.

  12. As always, thank you Sheila,

    “This law, if passed, would cause significant damage to the Koch brothers control of 24 states. There will be a major battle over this one.”
    Bravo, bravo to Representative Sarbanes for introducing H.R.1. Such a move is very much long overdue and while I agree with Todd that there will be a major battle over it there is no real choice but to do so if we’re going to save what’s left of our democracy. No single group of individuals whether they be the Koch brothers, the Mercer’s, the Sinclair’s, or as recently demonstrated the Limbaugh’s or the Coulter’s, has the right to dictate to the entire country in regard to anything. The same holds true in regard to the opposite side of the fence.

    Likewise, we have allowed this to happen and have stood back, watched, and shaken our heads and rant and rave when it does and done nothing else of any consequence, are equally at fault. Our political discourse and our stake in it has been trivialized to where it’s not much more than one of those cable channels that you see as you channel surf on your TV remote that your remote is never going to land on.

    If this is the best we can do we are in far deeper trouble than we really know. Perhaps what Representative Sarbanes is trying to do will garner our attention as I hope it will do. Given what we have already allowed to happen and still allow to happen I’m not going to hold my breath. Our political system has been lobotomized because of our lack of attention and the character and quality of those that we have selected to represent us. The really big question is, regardless of what we do as citizens or what people like John Sarbanes do, is how we recover from where we’re at and deal with the damage that is been done that has warped what we have taken for granted so long almost beyond recognition and resumed any semblance of forward progress as a nation and as a people.

  13. Nancy; I echo your comments about McConnell. Just this morning I sent an E-mail to a friend saying I wish McConnell would drop dead on the Senate floor. There will be no change as long as he is in his position of power and obviously the other members of the Senate are too afraid to speak out against him or even force him to do his job as required by the Constitution. Beginning with refusing to hold the required hearing on President Obama’s SCOTUS nomination.

  14. Rep, Sarbanes, has a phone call in town hall, his news letters.are up to date, seems a gentleman over the cast of goons in congress today. the newsletter keeps the recent,and ideas flowing. seems input from out of state, is also welcomed..

  15. P.S. John Nichols @the has some backbone, someone in the field of journalism, finally said it best, trump has no care for the working class, never had,and never will. its a short piece that should be passed on to your local trumper,who works for a living.

  16. OMG bloggers, while I totally agree and understand all of our frustrations with this administration, do we really want to wish for and promote someones demise? We then stoop to the lowest level…trump world.

  17. Now that there’s one adult in the room, Nancy Pelosi, Democrats must put everything in the context of everything else, and proceed strategically.

    If Trump’s move is to declare the wall a national emergency, my suspicion is that that’s tantamount to Republicans caving on the issue. My understanding is that it will not hold through the courts but could allow the reopening of government before the courts can rule on it. Good for Nancy.

    That’s step one but there is much to be coordinated between Ms Pelosi and Mueller in terms of how to proceed to have the maximum impact towards restoring the country. At the same time Democrats are announcing as Presidential candidates that that’s another essential track in the restoration.

    My sense is that things are unfolding slowly as always, but relentlessly in favor of a democratic solution to 2016.

    Our role is becoming more clear. The essential ingredients are united resolute Democrats.

  18. It has never been easier to register and vote in our nation’s history. Even the much derided voter ID laws haven’t suppressed voter turnout (if you look at turnout against the voting age population which is the only way to do it and get an accurate picture.) The notion that large groups of people aren’t voting because they weren’t able to get registered isn’t well-supported. As easy as it is to get registered today, the people who don’t choose to take those steps are generally people who wouldn’t have voted either.

    The right to vote in this country also includes the right NOT to vote. We need to accept the fact some people aren’t going to vote and not undermine the integrity of the voting system to try to get them to change their minds.

  19. I love the hand-wringing over someone wanting someone else dead. THIS, my kind hearted friends, is why we lose. Republicans don’t give a s— about you. They don’t. Get it through your heads — they don’t. If they can outlaw your participation, genetically engineer your offspring, control your mind, or otherwise eliminate you as an obstacle to their power, THEY WILL. We should fight them as our mortal enemies. If you truly believe in the principles behind this country, THEY ARE OUR MORTAL ENEMIES. I’ll say it gladly: death to the confederates, death to the loyalists, and death to the king. Death to those who wish to extinguish the liberty of others for their own gain.

  20. Contributions from Over It have no place in a forum offered by a professor of a state institution.

  21. Truth; I am JoAnn Green, you omitted my name and one other commenter with whom Over it agreed. We recognize the enemies of America and all Americans, those who happen to be in control at this time. Their virtual or literal deaths as our leaders is all that will end their Fascist, White Nationalist reign over us before they end our 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech and our freedom of religious choice.

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