As my colleague Mark Sumner wrote, Biden rightly concluded there was no way to properly honor the significance of the Jan. 6 Capitol siege while simply skipping over Trump’s responsibility for the “armed insurrection,” as the president put it Thursday.
But as good as that speech was, it would be a colossal mistake for Biden and his White House to simply drop the topic cold only to return to another year filled with Democratic squabbling over legislation like Build Back Better.
Jan. 6, GOP extremism, and the threat an anti-democratic Republican Party now poses to the republic must remain a dominant theme throughout the year and beyond.
As Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher noted last month, the millions who took to streets in 2020 following George Floyd’s murder “weren’t marching for bridges, roads, and broadband.”
And that’s exactly the message a cadre of voting rights and Black Lives Matter-aligned groups are sending to the White House as it plans to deploy Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to Atlanta next week for a speech about federal voting legislation.
The groups want to hear a concrete plan for passing voting rights protections and expressed frustration with the Biden administration’s noncommittal approach to voting rights thus far in Biden’s tenure.
“Georgia voters made history and made their voices heard, overcoming obstacles, threats, and suppressive laws to deliver the White House and the US Senate,” read a statement released by the Black Voters Matter Fund, the Asian American Advocacy Fund, the New Georgia Project Action Fund, and the GALEO Impact Action Fund, an organization representing Latinos. “In return, a visit has been forced on them, requiring them to accept political platitudes and repetitious, bland promises. Such an empty gesture, without concrete action, without signs of real, tangible work, is unacceptable.”
In the Post article, Nsé Ufot, chief executive of the New Georgia Project Action Fund, urged the president to directly take on the GOP’s swarm of anti-democratic efforts sweeping the nation.
“Not addressing this clear and present and direct threat on American elections is a fool’s errand,” Ufot said. “It is a recipe for disaster. It is a concession and a pathway for Trump to return to the White House.”
Ufot added that GOP voter suppression laws at the state level could “destabilize government as we know it,” and she fears President Biden lacks resolve that is equal to the moment.
“I have yet to see the Biden administration act as if they understand the urgency of the moment that we‘re in,” Ufot said.
Belcher offered a similar assessment in an interview last month.
“I don’t know if we can change the filibuster or not, but I damn sure believe we better go down in fucking flames fighting to get voting rights passed if we want to have a chance of mobilizing our base going into this midterm,” he said.
These groups—who represent the backbone of the Democratic base—are making an urgent plea to the White House: Democracy is in peril, and there’s no turning back now.