More Than Making History

Four years of Trumpian America First duplicity, an optically-awful Capitol insurrection and the demeaning of an electorate and media with an ongoing “Stop the Steal” campaign has put the U.S. in an awkward geopolitical position as the pre-eminent avatar of democracy. American “exceptionalism” shouldn’t look like this. Some things you can’t comb over.

Vice President Kamala Harris nailed it, starting with a sacrosanct right–that of voting–that looks increasingly vulnerable to zero-sum, dysfunctional, partisan politics. It also looks increasingly hypocritical when we deign to lecture others who suppress voting and diminish or deny democracy. “Right now, we’re about to take ourselves off the map as a role model,” warned Harris. “If we let people destroy one of the most important pillars of a democracy, which is free and fair elections.”

Voting suppression and gerrymandering are now givens, as is the pushback from voting-rights activists. But voting reform faces long odds in the Senate without a change in Senate rules—as Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema well know.

Harris—a 50-something black, female vice president—has to be the key catalyst, not a white, male president who means well but is past his rhetorical peak. Voting is not just a sacred rite, but a necessary right. Harris has already made history, now she needs to leverage that high-profile by doing everything to buttress the legacy of John Lewis and help reset American democracy.

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