09.12.2021 Feature Article

Keep the Filibuster but Pass the Voting Rights Act Pronto!

Keep the Filibuster but Pass the Voting Rights Act Pronto!
09.12.2021 LISTEN

After listening to Senator Mitt Romney discuss or, rather, explain the critical political significance of the use of the unfettered power-restraining instrument that is the “Filibuster” in the United States’ Senate, I have come to the conclusion that keeping this long-established extra-constitutional weapon against the abuse of power of the senatorial majority is perhaps the most appropriate thing to do (See “Sen Mitt Romney Warns Democrats Against the Filibuster, Says They Could Face a Future ‘Unrestrained’ Trump Presidency” Business Insider 11/17/21). Still, there is an inexcusably great problem when the Filibuster is arbitrarily – actually, racially – used to thwart the electoral freedom and, in effect, inalienable human rights of African Americans, in particular, and ethnic minorities, in general.

The apparently deliberate decision by the Congressional Senate Minority Republicans to stall the passage of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Advancement Act must raise the hackles of all human rights- and democracy-loving people around the globe. This is a constitutionally protected right that ordinarily needs to be taken for granted. In other words, we need to get away from this slavish proprietary entitlement and arrogance of White-American politicians and leaders that, somehow, matters pertaining to the civil and human rights of people classified as Ethnic Minorities in the country must be temporally defined or delimited the way that landlords and landladies periodically sign lease agreements with their tenants. I suppose this is a vestigial carryover from the Dark Old Days of African Chattel Enslavement right here in the United States of America.

The Utah Senator and former Governor of the State of Massachusetts, a traditional stronghold of Democratic Liberalism, believes that the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Advancement Act have been stalled in the Senate, that is, the Upper-Chamber of the United States’ Congress, essentially because these legal instruments were not bipartisan-crafted with the critical or remarkable input of Congressional Republicans. Now, I cannot authoritatively testify to the veracity or truth of Mr. Romney’s contention. You see, the late Congressman Lewis was not known to go at it alone or solo when it came to issues pertaining to the Civil and Human Rights of African Americans and, in fact, all ethnic and racial minorities in the United States. What Senator Romney is very likely referring to here is that the aforementioned legal instruments may be too liberal for the political taste or desire of Republican Party Conservatives, who may still be traumatized by the century-old abrogation of constitutionally sanctioned African Chattel Enslavement in the United States.

The well-known Mormon Leader does not tell the general public precisely what makes both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Advancement Act patently objectionable in their current shapes and forms. In other words, precisely why do these two legal instruments fall short of their intended objectives. You see, merely having the collaborative input of Congressional Republicans would not necessarily be tantamount to a legislative improvement, as we historically know it. To be certain, oftentimes, the input of Congressional Republicans in such cases has actually redounded to the fatal disadvantage of the purposes of such legal or legislative instruments. Which may very well have been the reason why these two legislative instruments may be devoid of the input of the Republicans, rather than being primarily or essentially the result of the deliberate exclusion of the latter by the Democrats.

Actually, it was that part of the presentation by Senator Romney verging on the eerie possibility of a Trumpian recapture of the White House in 2024 that literally got my proverbial horse. Ordinarily, for a democratically ousted President who was twice impeached but never prosecuted for administrative and behavioral impropriety, the possibility of the return of such a moral reprobate in a civilized mega-nation like the United States ought to be, at best, a very remote possibility. But it is a palpable possibility, nonetheless. Which specter may be actually what really makes the imperative need to preserving the Filibuster worth the serious consideration of our Congressional and/or Senatorial Leaders. That is, the veritable Bȇte-Blanc that is the luridly coddled Trumpian Specter by the key operatives of the US Republican Party.

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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York

November 7, 2021

E-mail: [email protected]

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