From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:
They won’t even talk about it. Not any of them. Not a single Republican senator even voted to debate a voting-rights bill sent to the Senate by the House for the purposes of providing a national remedy to the massive national effort to suppress the franchise, particularly that of inconvenient minority voters who no longer count as far as the Republican Party is concerned. Even to debate the bill would have required 10 Republicans to support the motion to proceed to debate, and you might as well have required the votes of 10 elves or 10 lords a-leaping. If you took 10 Republican senators at random, you might be able to piece together a single human conscience. Maybe.
But I had to see this vote to believe it anyway. Forget the universal franchise. The Republicans are obviously opposed to universal citizenship. Welcome to 1961, and don’t forget to count the beans in the jar correctly.
And make no mistake, the entire Republican Party is behind the program to restrict the franchise through the vehicle of fanatic conservative majorities in state legislatures, the same fanatic conservative majorities in state legislatures that are calling for these fraudulent “audits” in order to reinforce the Big Lie about the 2020 election. There are no Republican dissenters on this point. Neither Rep. Liz Cheney nor Rep. Adam Kinzinger voted for this bill when it came before the House of Representatives. So they now are investigating the most violent manifestation of the conservative Republican assault on elections—and therefore, on voting rights—and railing against the Big Lie that inspired it, but they voted against any national remedy to the more powerful national movement to make any future “Big Lies” unnecessary. The next time around, nobody will have to break a sweat getting to Washington to break windows and risk jail time. Some state legislatures far from Capitol Hill will take care of the required vandalism—and do it under color of law.
Coincidentally, and coincidence is our only solace these days, a story has emerged thanks to rookie Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. Hard to believe a former football coach would give away this much of the playbook, but Tuberville shared with the Washington Post this amazing tale about the events of January 6. Apparently, while the mob rampaged through the Capitol, and while most of their Republican colleagues were hunkered down in a conference room, Tuberville became part of a rump caucus in a storage closet in which several Republican senators tried to devise a plan by which they could give the mob what it wanted.
Inside the storage closet, a bunker within a bunker, surrounded by stacked furniture, the senators weighed whether the mob’s demonstration of loyalty to Trump that day might affect their own.
“There were 12 of us gathered to talk about what happens now [and] where do things go from here,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). The mood was “very heavy,” remembered Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.). “I do remember saying we have to pull the country together,” said Lankford, “We are so exceptionally divided that it’s spilling into the building.”
Lankford was perfectly willing to consider voting against certifying the results of a free and fair election as long as the subversion of democracy came without a casualty count. What a moderate fellow he is. And, god bless him for being in way over his head, Tuberville added the punchline.
“I didn’t really listen to them,” Tuberville said about the closet colloquy.
(Note: don’t read any further, because the piece goes to great length to explain what a fine fella “Coach” is, and how comfortable he is becoming with being a senator and how much everybody is coming to like him. Alabama traded Doug Jones for this guy. Yeesh.)
On Tuesday night, independent Senator Angus King of Maine took to the floor of the Senate to plead for the voting-rights bill. King, who in the shebeen is known as The Mustache of Righteousness, put the issue into stark relief.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that we are at a hinge of history, that circumstances have thrust us—those of us in this body—into a moment when the fate of the American experiment hangs in the balance. We are the heirs—and trustees—of a tradition that goes back to Jefferson and Lincoln, to Webster, Madison, Margaret Chase Smith, and, yes, our friend John McCain. All were partisans in one way or the other, but all shared an overriding commitment to the idea that animates the American experiment, the idea that our government is of, by, and for the people, all the people. Now is the moment to reach beyond region, beyond party, beyond self, to save and reinvigorate the sputtering flame of that idea.
Yes, democracy is an anomaly in world history and what we have is fragile; it rests upon the Constitution and laws to be sure, but it rests even more so on the trust our people place in our democratic system—and in us.
Listening to King, I thought I was listening to the aging Rep. John Quincy Adams, railing against the “gag rule” that prevented the House of Representatives from hearing petitions that mentioned slavery. Bad things result when legislatures in a republic deem issues too dangerous to talk about.
Make no mistake. There is no point in investigating—or even condemning—the events of January 6, or the Big Lie, if you’re not willing to confront the greater threat to democracy being mounted in dozens of states. This effort inevitably will result in a Trumpian president who will not trip over his own shoelaces. But the Republicans in the Senate, the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, chose not even to debate the issue. They’re all still in the storage closet, patting each other on the back.