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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Needed: Wave Election to Restore Voting Rights

Shame on Justice Roberts for green-lighting voter suppression and turning the High Court into an instrument of aggressive political partisanship. That said, Democrats should get organized, and quickly, at the federal, state and local levels.
It’s good that Democrats and progressives across the nation are calling on congress to restore the Voting Rights Act and enact other electoral reforms and that there is optimism that it might be possible. No matter how hopeless the Republican political gridlock seems, we can’t function from a foundation rooted in cynicism about what can be done. In addition there is value in forcing votes on restoration of the Act, so that the public is reminded again and again which party supports voter suppression.
At the same time, however, we have to be realistic about prospects for enough Republicans in congress doing the right thing regarding restoration of voting rights. As Sen. Chuck Schumer put it, “As long as Republicans have a majority in the House and Democrats don’t have 60 votes in the Senate, there will be no preclearance.”
With few exceptions, the GOP’s record on voting rights in recent years is worse than poor. Already they are aggressively capitalizing on the ruling in TX, NC and AL to disenfranchise voters of color and youth, just as the pro-Republican majority hoped.
Dems must organize a full-court press to restore the Voting Rights Act. But the ruling also underscores the critical urgency of mobilizing a record mid term turnout in 2014, without which, the Voting Rights Act is likely to remain unenforceable. It’s just possible that the ruling will energize African Americans, Latinos, young voters and other constituencies who will be targeted for disenfranchisement by Republicans in the states to turn out in unprecedented numbers for the mid term elections. But it’s likely only if leaders and activists in these communities make it a top priority.
As a new Democracy Corps study points out, Democrats are in better than expected shape looking toward the 2014 mid term elections. The challenge now is to make the most of the Court ruling in turning out key constituencies. With that commitment, we can set the stage for a wave election in 2014 and a win in the next presidential election, which is imperative for restoring balance to the Supreme Court.

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