Memo to San Kirsten Cinema:
Your friend will not be pleased with you.
Meaning John Lewis, Georgia congressman and civil rights titan who died of pancreatic cancer last year. You marked the anniversary of his passing over the weekend with a wonderfully hypocritical tweet, calling him “a personal hero of mine – a man of principle and courage.” … rest in power, my dear friend. “
As many observers — this included — were quick to point out, the best way to honor Lewis would be to defend the cause that made him coveted: voting rights. Instead, you’ve chosen to defend Filbuster, a parliamentary parlor move by which Republicans have blocked two bills—one of them named for your “dear friend”—that rights right-wing lawmakers. designed to protect against renewed attack.
If not getting it was an Olympic event, you would be in contention for a gold medal.
Democrats like you and Sen. Joe Manchin offer to refuse to conclude – or even modify – the filibuster argument seems theoretical enough. You argue that, while it may be tempting for Democrats, who hold the Senate by one vote, to dump a process that gives minority veto power, it is prudent to remember that one day The tables will turn and the Republicans will be in charge.
But that argument is assumed the general rules still apply. Given the GOP’s recent chaos, its wholesale abandonment of democratic norms, this belief feels… bizarre.
It would be better if you take a lesson from Abraham Lincoln. Initially, his goal in the Civil War had nothing to do with ending slavery. No, he only wanted to return to normalcy to restore the “union as it was”. Eventually, however, he saw that this was impossible: the old union was gone, and he would have to form a new one. Then he decided to abolish slavery. So he talked about “a new birth of freedom” at Gettysburg.
Like Lincoln, the Democrats are determined to restore the Union as it were. Meaning, before polarization and misinformation, before discontent and rebellion, before madmen come to town, chaos is brewing in its wake.
Well, at some point, the Democrats must realize, as Lincoln did, that the old Union cannot be restored. Enough has happened, a lot has changed. Consider that two-thirds of Southern Republicans in a new poll support a course that Lincoln knew all too well: segregation.
In other words, Senator, this is not your father’s America. Yet Democrats like you believe that “normal” is a place we can return to. One can almost admire your stubbornness. Lincoln also had an unwavering faith in this country; nothing wrong with that. But Lincoln was also practical and creative enough to understand that aside from losing the war, he was also losing logic – and to win, he had to take the fight to a higher level.
On the contrary, your party talks about a good game. That’s what your tweet was about, what President Biden’s voting-rights speech was about last week. But your talk is cheap. This is the moment of urgency of existence. It calls on Democrats to be creative, committed and bold. Like Lincoln, you must take the fight to a higher level and discover a new nation: one without corruption, black money and voter oppression, one where every voice can speak for itself.
In other words, a democracy. We could have had that, but first you Democrats should leave the “Union as it was”.
And embrace the union as it may be.
Leonard Pitts Jr. is a Miami Herald columnist. © 2021 Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.