Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @DeanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
(CNN)Democrats from President Joe Biden to the most junior member of Congress must immediately make saving America’s democracy their only priority. That means everything from raising the issue nonstop in the media to publicly pressuring their colleagues in the Senate to reform the filibuster to allow a vote on voting rights legislation and even threatening to withhold federal infrastructure aid to states that enact laws that restrict voting access.
Voting is the lifeblood of our democracy. If we don’t protect that sacred right, then our vote — our voice — on issues from climate change to criminal justice reform to everything in between will not be heard. It’s not hyperbolic to say that this current battle against the GOP’s efforts to suppress the vote may be the last stand for our republic.
Alarmingly, though, the GOP is winning its war on our democracy. Since January, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, Republican-controlled state legislatures have enacted 22 new laws to make it more difficult to vote. Republicans in Texas are currently pushing to enact a sweeping voter suppression measure that will make it harder for citizens to cast a ballot despite a Texas election official testifying that the 2020 election was “smooth and secure.” Even more alarming is that some of these new laws could allow GOP state officials to nullify the will of the people by making it easier to overturn the election results.
What is missing from the Democrats’ discussion on protecting our democracy is what Martin Luther King Jr. famously called “the fierce urgency of now.” In fact, that was the very point made by a group of civil rights leaders who met with President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris last week to emphasize that time is running out to protect our democracy.
One of the attendees, Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, stated afterward, “We emphasized to the President that our backs are against the wall,” adding, “This is the moment. There is no more time.”
Marc Morial, head of the National Urban League, who also attended the meeting, warned that we cannot “leave any stone unturned to save American democracy,” given there’s an effort by some on the right to impose an “American apartheid.” Ifill noted that she and others at the meeting implored Biden to “use his voice, use his influence, use his power” to push for a federal law to save our democracy.
Former 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, a leader in the fight against the Texas GOP’s efforts to enact voter suppression legislation, expressed that
Opinion: This should be the only priority for Democrats
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