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Monday, February 6, 2023

One Year After Delivering a Flamboyant Speech on Voting Rights, Joe Biden Gives a More Subdued Address

Last year, when President Joe Biden travelled to the state capital of the South to pay tribute to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he gave a speech in which he called for the nonviolent defence of voting rights. He compared opponents to people who supported segregation and pledged to rewrite the rules of the Senate in order to overcome their opposition. He made the proclamation, “I will not succumb.” “I shall not show any sign of fear.”

A year later, on Sunday, Mr. Biden made his way back to Atlanta with little little to show for his time there. Even though he did not flinch, he was not successful in what he attempted. None of the sweeping voting rights measures that he championed during the previous year’s session of Congress, which was controlled by the Democrats, were successful in passing, and the prospects of any of them passing a newly elected House that is controlled by the Republicans appear to be vanishingly small.

As a result, a leader who likely owes his presidency to the crucial and timely backing of Black voters in 2020 was left with no real policy proposals or legislative initiatives to give, just hazy exhortations of optimism. He gave the crowd at Dr. King’s legendary Ebenezer Baptist Church the assurance that their side in the conflict would, in fact, triumph at some point in the future.

The analogy did not go over well with Republicans at the time, who insisted that the limits they had imposed in many states were intended to secure the integrity of the voting process. They also argued that they opposed legislation sponsored by Democrats because they believed it would be an overreach of federal authority. According to the words of one senator from the previous year, even some Democrats were concerned that the president “went a bit too far in his rhetoric.” Mr. Biden argued in favour of the parallel back then, but on Sunday he chose not to bring it up or anything else like to it.

Nor did he mention eliminating the Senate filibuster in order to pass voting rights legislation, which was the centrepiece of last year’s speech. However, this idea was shot down a little over a week later when two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, joined Republicans in refusing to go along with the plan.

According to Mr. Biden’s aides, there was not much the president could do at this time without a shift on Capitol Hill. Keisha Lance Bottoms, a former mayor of Atlanta who now works as a senior advisor to Mr. Biden and accompanied him on Sunday, said that “the president has done and will continue to do everything that he can do under his executive responsibilities,” but that “there’s only so much that he can do.” “We need action from Congress.”

It’s possible that the fight for voting rights has lost some of its momentum since the midterm elections in November. Although Democrats were concerned that the Republican Party would rack up wins partly as a result of voting suppression, the Republican Party did not do as well as expected. They were able to maintain a slim majority in the House of Representatives despite suffering losses in the Senate and picking up significantly fewer seats in the House than they had anticipated.

Republicans have said that Mr. Warnock’s victory demonstrates that the criticism levelled by Democrats is exaggerated. “Georgia’s electoral system has been questioned, analysed, and attacked, and passed every test,” Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement after the runoff, noting the high turnout as evidence.

Chris Matthews
I am a Political News Journalist of The National Era
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