Must-read Larry Diamond NYT Oped: “Democrats, Want to Defend Democracy? Embrace What Is Possible.”

NYT oped:

Like many scholars of democracy, I have strongly supported both the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. Both are necessary (though not sufficient) to secure the most precious rights in any democracy — the right to vote and the right to have one’s vote counted fairly and accurately.

Most supporters of these bills believed the urgent need for them justified lifting the Senate filibuster and passing them on a purely partisan vote. But with the refusal of Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (or any Republican senators) to vote to suspend the filibuster, it’s clear that these bills will not pass this Congress.

The only remaining option is to pare back the reform cause to a much narrower agenda that can command bipartisan support. Democrats must recognize that politics is the art of the possible, and democratic responsibility demands that we not sacrifice what is valuable and possible on the altar of the unattainable. That means supporting the bipartisan efforts to reform the Electoral Count Act.

This work is now taking shape in bipartisan negotiations among moderate senators convened by Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. The new bill would fix some of the most dangerous vulnerabilities in the 1887 Electoral Count Act — some of which we saw in the 2020 election — that could enable a future Congress (or a rogue vice president) to reverse the vote of the Electoral College in certain states or to plunge the process of counting electoral votes into such chaos that there would be no way of determining a legitimate winner. Such a deadlock could precipitate a far larger and more violent assault on the democratic order than what we saw on Jan. 6. Reducing the risk of such a calamity is a democratic imperative.

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