Bob Franken




In a democracy, the majority rules. Well, that platitude is only partially true. We get what we elect only if the choice is a stacked deck. And in the US of A, our government is replete with stacked decks.
The Republicans are trying to add a few cards to that deck to make sure they maintain their clout. They are choking off access to the ballot box for those out of power; people of color, the poor, the elderly and the unhealthy — anyone who could be expected to vote Democrat.
As anybody who reads this column (both of you) knows all too well, the GOP has a two-pronged attack that involves two levels of government: the red state legislatures and the federal. Right now, the state battle is being fought in the best little madhouse in Texas, the state capitol building in Austin. And elsewhere.

There is not many Democrats in the Lone Star State, but they sure are a noisy bunch. The Republicans are trying to ram through one of the most oppressive election laws since Jim Crow.
The Democrats in the state legislature have flown the coop because (and they’ve pulled this stunt before) they will leave behind too few to make up a legislative quorum. So they’ve snuck out of the state, to beyond the border, beyond the reach of the Texas Rangers and arrest, which the governor, Republican Greg Abbott, is threatening to do, but can’t.
Democrats are cheering them on as heroes and sheroes. But two can play this silly game. The Democrats are ferociously trying to outmaneuver Texas and other red state legislatures by passing a bill in Congress that they believe would supersede anything the state houses would grind out.
We’ll leave it to you to decide who the good guys are, but it seems we might be left with a stalemate. Remember those temporarily homeless Texas Democrats, who are attempting to deny their legislature a quorum, meaning enough members around to conduct business?
Well, Congress has quorums too. Forgetting which side you’re on, the Democrats have come up with contorted parliamentary maneuvering that has put together a bill that spends more than $4 trillion to get President Joe Biden’s way on infrastructure. It would use a tricky process that would require only Democratic majority votes, which would avoid a filibuster. If you’re a D, so far so good.
But “D” can also be “DINO,” and that stands for “Democrat in name only,” which would describe Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He’s been tiptoeing through the hills and hollers of Trump’s Almost Heaven, but will be subject to arm-twisting like you wouldn’t believe from Joe Biden. Biden has decades of experience turning one’s arm into a pretzel. But his history is more than matched by the leg breaking of Don Trump and his associates.
If Manchin doesn’t vote with the Dems, then it’s all over. And before you suggest that it’ll all come together in some grand bargain, where the GOP gives the Dems infrastructure and the Dems give the GOP election suppression, that ain’t gonna happen. Biden’s substantial Black constituency would ride him out of town on a rail. The Republicans will hold, because Donald Trump would slaughter anyone who didn’t.
Meanwhile, President Biden is already playing his patriotism card, saying that voter suppression is “un-American” and racist: “We have to ask, are you on the side of truth or lies, fact or fiction, justice or injustice, democracy or autocracy?”
That’s a silly question since it’s Trump who utilizes the “big lie” to scam his base into believing he won the election. Then Biden frittered away his best sound bite of argument so far: “Have you no shame?” That conjured up memories of Sen. Joe McCarthy, and it would have been useful later.
By the way, when it comes to Trump, the answer is no.

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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