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Joe Biden should announce that the first bill he’ll introduce as President is the John Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2021, a law that would guarantee every American the right to vote and the right to equal representation.

It would restore the Voting Rights Act, but also ensure:
1) Every American is registered to vote (through Automatic Voter Registration, and that includes those who’ve been incarcerated)
2) Every American receives a ballot (through the mail, like citizens in multiple states do now)
3) Every American has the opportunity to cast their ballot (through universal early voting, making Election Day a national holiday, and fully funding polling locations)
4) Every American has the right to full representation in government (including citizens of DC, Puerto Rico, and other territories if they choose)
5) Every American has the right to an equal voice in the House of Representatives (through the end of partisan gerrymandering)
6) Every American has the right to an equal voice in the U.S. Senate (through an end to the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold, as a start)
7) Every American has the right to an equal voice in their vote for President (every state’s electors go to the winner of the national popular vote, as 15 states have already chosen to do)
Many of these democratic reforms (but not all!) are already part of HR1, which already has the full support of Dems in the House and Senate, and which Biden has already said will be a “first priority.” That’s good.
A President Biden’s ability to meet any of the crises we face - the pandemic, the recession, the climate, racial injustice - will be constrained by the reality of a political system that gives disproportionate power to a (mostly white and rural) minority of citizens.
It’s a political system that will make progressive electoral and legislative victories increasingly difficult in 2022, 2024, 2026, and beyond - years where there may not be a historically unpopular Republican incumbent on the ballot.
The unfinished work of the Civil Rights Movement is a multiracial democracy where everyone is guaranteed an equal voice. These reforms move us closer to that ideal, and any attempt by McConnell and the GOP to filibuster provides Ds the chance to finally kill this Jim Crow relic.
Trumpism won’t be defeated by beating Trump, but it can be suffocated by reforming our anti-majoritarian institutions and ensuring that our electorate actually looks like America in the 21st century. It should be our highest priority if we win - we may not get another chance.
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