Georgia’s Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock pleaded with conservative members of his party to stop obstructing voting rights legislation in a powerful speech to the Senate on Tuesday. Although Warnock did not name Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, the two spoke out against removing the filibuster to allow Democrats to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. advancement of John Lewis’s voting rights. Warnock said there was no way Republicans would join the effort to save democracy and only a change in filibuster could secure the bills passage. “Who are we asking to foot the bill for this bipartisan system?” And is freedom itself the price? said Warnock.
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AMY GOOD MAN: It is Democracy now! I’m Amy Goodman, as we end today’s show with Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock’s powerful speech in the Senate on Tuesday as he called on Conservative Democratic Party members to stop obstructing government legislation. right to vote. He did not name Senators Joe Manchin and Sinema, who spoke against removing the filibuster to allow Democrats to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the Advancement of Human Rights Act. vote of John Lewis.
SEN. RAPHAELL WARENOCK: “Complicit methods which hindered the free exercise of the constitutional right to vote”, his rallying cry that day, in 1957, was “Give us the ballot”. So, Madam President, in light of the complicit methods of voter suppression that we have seen enacted since the January 6 attack on the Capitol, I rise today to share with the Georgian people and the American people the message that I shared with my colleagues over the weekend and earlier today during our caucus meeting.
I have told my fellow Democrats over the past number of days, number one unfortunately the vast majority of our Republican friends have made it clear that they have no intention of trying to work with us to fight the suppression of voters or to protect voting rights. They embodied by their actions the sentiments of Conservative strategist Paul Weyrich, who dared to say in 1981, and I quote: “I don’t want everyone to vote. That is what he said. “The elections are not won by the majority of people. They never have been since the beginning of our country, and they are not now. In fact, “he continued,” our influence in elections, quite frankly, increases as the number of voters decreases.
The second thing I said to my fellow Democrats today is that while we can’t let our Republican friends off the hook because they’re not fair governing partners, if we want to really protect the right to vote which is currently under attack, here is the truth: it will be up to the Democrats to do it. And if only Democrats should raise the debt ceiling, then only Democrats should raise and fix the ceiling on our democracy. How can we conscientiously justify doing one and not the other?
Some of my fellow Democrats say, “Well, what about – what about bipartisanship? Isn’t that important? I say, of course it does. But here’s the thing we need to remember: Slavery was bipartisan. Jim Crow segregation was bipartisan. The rejection of women’s suffrage was bipartisan. The denial of the fundamental dignity of the members of the LGBTQ community has long been bipartisan. The three-fifths compromise was the creation of putative national unity at the expense of basic black humanity. So when colleagues in this House talk to me about bipartisanship, in which I believe, I content myself with asking: at whose expense? Who are we being asked to foot the bill for this two-party system? And is freedom itself the price to pay? I submit that is too high a price and too far a bridge.
And so I struggled this weekend. I’ve talked to people I believe in. Among them, I spoke with Rev. Ambassador Andrew Young, who was with Dr. King until the very end, about this vote. I spoke to Ambassador Young and asked him, “What do you think? And he said, “I’m trying not to worry, but I’m worried about our country. And then this 89-year-old battle-worn soldier in the Lord’s nonviolent army hushed up on the phone. And then he said to me: “Tell your colleagues that among your voters there are people who literally risked their lives for the fundamental right to vote. They have lost friends. They have lost so much.
And so, it’s a real moral dilemma for me, and it’s difficult for me to vote today. But after many conversations, with colleagues, with Georgians, with experts who know the economy, with defenders of the franchise and civil rights leaders, I will indeed vote today with anguish. I will vote to increase the debt ceiling. I am voting yes because I think of the kids in the housing projects at Kayton Homes where I grew up in Savannah, Georgia. I think of the families who are working hard to recover from the pressures of this pandemic, of those who are on the margins and those who resist the least, for whom an economic collapse would be catastrophic. And ironically, many of them are the same people who are also targeted by the voter suppression efforts I mentioned earlier. I think of them and of the Georgian people as we vote today to raise the debt ceiling.
But I also think about what we need to do to keep our democracy and our economy strong today and for the next generation. Once we settle the debt ceiling, the Senate will have to make voting rights the very next issue we deal with. We have to do some voting rights, and we have to deal with this issue now.
So let me be clear: I’m so proud of what we’ve done with the bipartisan infrastructure bill and major economic investments we’re putting the finishing touches on that will close the Medicaid coverage gap and bring historic relief to Georgia farmers and expand broadband access and more. But, Madam President …
AMY GOOD MAN: This is the excerpt from Georgia’s Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock of a powerful Senate speech on Tuesday as he called on conservative members of his own party to stop obstructing voting rights legislation. Reverend Warnock is also pastor of the Atlanta Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was the spiritual home of Dr. Martin Luther King and his father.
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