DC Day of Action to Protect Voting Rights, Reforms Promised
Hundreds of people marched in Washington, DC on Wednesday, singing wrestling songs and calling for passage of a franchise bill by the end of the year. Reverend William Barber II marched alongside other religious leaders, poor and working-class Americans and elected Allies, filling the streets around the White House and demanding an end to the voter suppression efforts that they are seeing intensification across the country.
Many organizations have joined the campaign for the poor, including the League of Women Voters, People for the American Way, Declaration for American Democracy, Black Lives Matter, DC Vote, Democracy Initiative, Drum Majors for Change, and Future Coalition. Some people have come from faraway states citing the names of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, and other civil rights leaders who have fought to protect voting rights over the decades. More than 200 people have been arrested in organized civil disobedience actions, including Barber.
“I want the White House to remember that Scripture says, ‘Woe to those who legislate evil and rob the poor of their rights, and prey on women and children,” said Barber. “In every state of the battlefield, if only 20% of the poor and low-income people who did not vote voted and organized together, they could determine every election in this country. And that’s the sleeping giant they’re literally afraid of.
After the defeat of former President Donald Trump, Republican officials in several states introduced a series of restrictive election laws that follow a similar pattern. They questioned the legitimacy of postal ballots and tightened identification requirements, reduced early voting and added other restrictive measures that are especially onerous for the working poor. More localized strategies, like limiting the number of polling stations in low-income and minority neighborhoods, also had a depressing effect, including during the Wisconsin pandemic election.
The Poor’s Campaign condemns the obstructive use of Senate obstruction, which makes it impossible to pass non-budget legislation without a qualified majority of 60 votes. By relying on filibuster, the Republicans succeeded in blocking voting rights legislation. . Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson supports the use of filibuster and continued to question the 2020 election results. In July, the Poor People’s Campaign issued an open letter to Johnson asking him to change his position. But it is not just the voting rights of Republicans and reformist activists that are held accountable.
“Mr. President, we want you to be successful and we will be by your side,” said Barber, addressing President Joe Biden. “But we need you to fight filibuster because filibuster is being used to fight against us and to bring down democracy. We also need you to invite us to speak to you in the White House. You must bring in religious leaders and activists, the poor and the low-paid people you say worry, you need them in the Oval Office. You’ve met the senators, you met the business leaders. Now meet us who make this country work! “
Barber pointed out that “something is happening that tries to deny people the right to vote, deny a living wage, deny the provisions of your own Build Back Better plan. Everything is connected; it is not separate. Republican extremists like (US Senator Mitch) McConnell change the obstruction to put Supreme Court justices on the bench for life. Now they and two Democrats are using filibuster to destroy and undermine the life of this democracy and the daily needs of the people.
by Biden Rebuild better plan claims $ 1.75 trillion over a decade to devote to many priorities, from subsidies to healthcare to clean energy. Republican critics opposed the price of the plan and, along with conservative Democrats, worked to limit the scope of the plan. Activists of the immigrant rights movement have also put constant pressure on Biden and the Democrats to reverse Trump-era policies targeting undocumented workers and their families. Several popular provisions of the regime were stripped. These include paid family time off, free community college, lower prescription drug prices, and the addition of dental and vision coverage to Medicare. Barber described the obstruction efforts as an attack on the “progressive force” in the country.
The filibuster is backed by the Chamber of Commerce, he noted, “And the Chamber of Commerce is also blocking the living wage of $ 15. We need to understand the unholy connection between money and greed and the denial of the right to vote. Mr. Speaker, it is time you used your full weight in this office. The weight of the presidency. If that is not done, said Barber, “it will depress the electorate.”
“Mr. President, it is time to fight,” he added. “Systematic obstruction is not constitutional, so you did not swear to respect it. But you did swear to maintain protection. equal under the law, for all. ”
Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) was in the crowd, having traveled from Wisconsin to join the march.
“We are all here today because the Voting Rights Act and the right to vote are the cornerstone of our democracy,” Taylor told the crowd. She said that “if we want to be a nation that promotes democracy then we have to show it. I’m here today because in Wisconsin in April 2020, 165 polling stations were closed. Early voting was closed for a week, and when it was reopened it was not reopened in the community where African Americans were. Eliminating voters is not OK.
Taylor also spoke about the ongoing redistribution battle in Wisconsin, where four cards were presented to the Senate, which passed a card that heavily favored Republicans.
“I said alone that the voting rights law protects us and gives us the right to choose a candidate of our choice,” said Taylor, who opposed both the Republican card and a card. developed by a non-partisan commission created by Evers, which she says does not include enough majority-minority districts. “And if the cards don’t reflect that, they violate voting rights law. So, in the mind of John Lewis, I’m getting up today to be in big trouble. And I refuse to shut up and be silent. And I remind the president: ‘Mr. President you promised. Your word should be your link. We helped get you elected and we expect you to do what you said. Go to the wall for the Voting Rights Act! Go to the wall for the right to vote, to oppose the suppression of voters. “
As Barber, Taylor and speakers from across the country made remarks, police gathered at the edge of the crowd. Protesters put up banners on the black security gate outside the White House.
“We need the freedom to vote,” they chanted.
Person after person shared stories of struggles for low wages, fearing a looming climate crisis, as well as personal experiences with voter suppression. Most have spoken directly to Biden, demanding that his administration follow through on the policy changes he promised during the campaign. As the police began to intervene to make arrests, the demonstrators sang: “We will not be moved. “