Skyler Simpkins ’23
It looks as if the Freedom to Vote Act will not be able to successfully pass the congressional chambers and make it to the President’s desk for approval. This bill substantially changes our voting rights in America. In case you are not aware of this bill, some of the provisions of the bill include a ban on partisan gerrymandering, an increase in automatic voter registration, and ensuring that every election is audited by the local or state governments where the election was held. This bill, then, covers many facets of voter protection wanted by both sides of the aisle. So why then is this bill having so much difficulty becoming law? I, unfortunately, believe this answer lies in the strategic party planning for the 2024 presidential election.
Usually issues with congressional approval stem from bitter partisan divides. The rival conservative and liberal agendas meet in a firestorm of press coverage and informal negotiations, yet this bill I think is different. Many may argue — and have an apt point — that this bill’s provisions are more fitting with a Democratic lawmaker. I have to agree. Increase in voting registration and restrictions on partisan gerrymandering are key platforms for a Democrat, but they too have a potential loss in this bill. Restrictions on partisan gerrymandering are going to hurt both parties and it might end up having little to no effect, with independent commissions embodying the political preferences of their respective legislators. With this, I think we can put considerations aside that point to this bill following the platform of one party over the other. It might more closely resemble liberal ideals, but the bill has provisions that will equally hurt and help both parties. The rather egalitarian basis of this bill makes the difficult passage much more difficult to understand. If polarization is not the basis for the squabbles of this bill, what is? Instead of polarization, this bill represents an internal battle in the Republican party — a battle between their platform calling for integrity in elections and the possibility of another Trump nomination on the 2024 presidential ticket.
Donald Trump has been very politically active, harping on his stolen election and basing his pride on the cries of his devout followers who proclaim him as their President. Whether we like it or not, Trump has retained a devoted fan base on the right side of the aisle, a fact that is potentially troubling for a Republican party who would like to move past the tumultuous last four years of Trumpian politics. He could easily manage to sweep the primaries, and he seems quite eager to do so. Due to this possibility that is growing more and more likely with each Trump rally, Republican lawmakers must begin to plan what their platform will become if he is once again the nominee. After all, in our current political situation, it is better to win than to promote the best outcome. And this is true for both parties, but this situation is about to play out right before our eyes with the Republicans: A disregard for moral victories in order to prepare yourself for a “bigger” win down the line. This phenomenon happens in many different spheres of society, but politics is one carrying the most significant and harmful consequences. In this case, the result is the inability to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, a bipartisan bill supporting secure and free elections.
The power of a candidate over the entire party is a more modern development, but something that we should all watch out for in years to come. Political parties are beginning to betray their devotions for the sake of a future presidential or major legislative victories. Parties are slowly folding to match the contours of their candidate, bloodletting the intangible party’s body of integrity.