Don’t look now, but the New York Times just provided yet another reminder that the Democratic Party’s main problem at present isn’t the filibuster, but its inability to get to 50 votes in the Senate:
President Biden and leading Democrats have pledged to make the elections overhaul a top priority, even contemplating a bid to upend bedrock Senate rules if necessary to push it through over Republican objections. But they are contending with an undercurrent of reservations in their ranks over how aggressively to try to revamp the nation’s elections and whether, in their zeal to beat back new Republican ballot restrictions moving through the states, their proposed solution might backfire, sowing voting confusion and new political challenges.
. . .
But while few Democrats are willing to publicly say so, the details of the more than 800-page bill — which would radically reshape the way elections are run and make far-reaching changes to campaign finance laws and redistricting — have become a point of simmering contention. Some proponents argue that Democrats should break off a narrower bill dealing strictly with protecting voting rights to prevent the legislation, known as the For the People Act, from collapsing amid divisions over other issues.
“Democrats have a narrow opportunity. There is a window here that could close anytime,” said Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine. “I worry the kind of fights necessary to keep even the Democratic coalition together could blow up the whole thing and lose the chance to get anything done.”
It is worth our remembering that, for all the talk of Biden being FDR, the Democratic Party has thus far passed just one bill — and that to get even that done, it had to pretend that it was providing crucial coronavirus “relief.” The second reconciliation process will likely bring more spending in that vein, but, beyond that, the future does not look especially rosy. The Democrats have tiny majorities — in the Senate they need the VP to break ties — and they are divided on voting, climate, immigration, gun control, statehood for D.C., healthcare, the Supreme Court, and more. Because the press will usually play along, it is easier for Chuck Schumer to pretend that the issue here is Republicans than to acknowledge that his party is chronically split, and that the agenda of many of its representatives is not the same as his.