Why Isn’t Biden Going All Out for Democracy?
The coalition is now the core of the Republican Party, which stands for little more than voter suppression based on Trump’s big lie that the 2020 election was stolen, and tax cuts for the wealthy and their corporations.
Meanwhile, as wealth supremacists have accumulated a larger share of the nation’s income and wealth than at any time in more than a century, they’ve used a portion of that wealth to bribe lawmakers not to raise their taxes. It was recently reported that several American billionaires have paid only minimal or no federal income tax at all.
Tragically, the Supreme Court is supporting both the white supremacists and wealth supremacists. Since Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito joined in 2005 and 2006, respectively, the court has been whittling away voting rights while enlarging the rights of the wealthy to shower money on lawmakers. The conservative majority has been literally making it easier to buy elections and harder to vote in them.
The Democrats’ proposed For the People Act admirably takes on both parts of the coalition. It sets minimum national standards for voting, and it seeks to get big money out of politics through public financing of election campaigns.
Yet this comprehensiveness may explain why the For the People Act is now stalled in the Senate. Biden and Democratic leaders are firmly against white supremacists but are not impervious to the wishes of wealth supremacists. After all, to win elections they need likely Democrats to vote but also need big money to finance their campaigns.
Some progressives have suggested a carve-out to the filibuster solely for voting rights. This might constrain the white supremacists but would do nothing to protect American democracy from the wealth supremacists.
If democracy is to be preserved, both parts of the anti-democracy coalition must be stopped.
(Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of “The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It.”)
©2021 Robert Reich. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.