But the Arizona Democrat continues to make this argument — her office again offered a version this week — despite the obvious nature of that undeniable state of affairs.
Now a large coalition of progressive groups is releasing a new letter to Senate Democrats amplifying this argument in freshly urgent terms. Its stark message: You must choose between protecting the filibuster on one side, and protecting democracy and voting rights on the other.
“There is no third option,” reads the letter, which is organized by Fix Our Senate and includes groups such as MoveOn, the Communications Workers of America, Common Cause, Indivisible, Stand Up America and Battle Born Collective.
This is not a theoretical point or a rhetorical flourish. It actually is the choice that’s upon Democrats right at this very moment.
Sinema keeps arguing that ending the filibuster would open the door for Republicans to pass, by simple majority, national voter ID and other restrictions on voting that would apply nationwide. But right now, in many states, this is already happening, and that campaign is quasi-national in scope.
As we speak, the GOP-controlled Texas state legislature is rushing through a new law that contains a host of onerous new restrictions and is targeted at Democratic voters. And Republicans in many states are gearing up to execute extreme gerrymanders to rig the playing field in advance of the 2022 battle for the House. Much of this is currently doable by simple legislative majority.
Senate Democrats will soon reintroduce a suite of new proposals, including ones that are supported by Sinema and fellow filibuster defender Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), that would curb many of these anti-majoritarian tactics, extreme gerrymanders included. But they will never pass the Senate as long as the filibuster remains as is, and time is running out.
The letter from progressive groups makes this point plain:
The Census Bureau’s release of redistricting data has set off a round of partisan gerrymandering that will allow politicians across the country to rig congressional districts for the next decade. Meanwhile legislatures across America have passed dangerous new laws to restrict voting rights and revamp election laws for their own partisan advantage.Unless the Senate joins the House in passing strong federal legislation in response — and quickly — it will be too late to protect voting rights in the 2022 midterm elections and draw fair districts in the decennial redistricting process.
The letter adds:
There is not a moment to waste. Every day that passes with the filibuster still standing, as it does today, threatens the health of our democracy and the voting rights of our fellow Americans. The choice is crystal clear: stand with us and your constituents and protect our democracy, or protect the abused and outdated “Jim Crow relic.” There is no third option.
“No amount of citizen engagement and organizing can overcome this harsh reality: if the filibuster is left intact, Republicans will continue to weaponize it,” the letter says.
That’s some particularly bitter medicine: The filibuster will enable GOP counter-majoritarian tactics to prevail even if Democrats out-organize the opposition.
Reinforcing this point, numerous analyses have determined that Republicans can win the House via extreme gerrymanders alone. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project has concluded that such gerrymanders could enable Republicans to capture it even if the 2022 national House popular vote rivals the 2020 Democratic edge of three points. Out-organizing that seems like a very tall order indeed.
Both Sinema and Manchin, like all 48 other Democratic-aligned senators, support doing something about extreme gerrymanders. Given this, it seems very strange to refrain from doing so just to preserve the filibuster, on the grounds that this will supposedly prevent Republicans from further entrenching anti-majoritarianism in our system, when they are busily doing exactly this right now, potentially locking it in for years to come.