During a newly available interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, former President Barack Obama spoke of the dangers of the current direction of the Republican Party, which lately has proven ominously welcoming to the blatantly false claim that the U.S. electoral system is prey to systematic fraud and has produced an illegitimate result with the election of Joe Biden. No meaningful evidence has ever emerged that Biden’s presidency is somehow illegitimate and the result of fraud, but that’s exactly what Trump himself — in his capacity as a central GOP leader — keeps claiming anyway.
Obama said that he believes that “we have to worry when one of our major political parties is willing to embrace a way of thinking about our democracy that would be unrecognizable and unacceptable even five years ago or a decade ago.” Discussing recent GOP-backed state-level legislation that, if passed and/ or left in place, would significantly subvert the authority of officials who ordinarily handle elections, Obama added as follows:
‘When you look at some of the laws that are being passed at the state legislative level, where legislators are basically saying, “We’re going to take away the certification of election processes from civil servants — Secretaries of State, people who are just counting ballots — and we’re gonna put it in the hands of partisan legislatures, who may or may not decide that a state’s electoral votes should go to one person or another,” and when that’s all gone against the backdrop of large numbers of Republicans having been convinced wrongly that there was something fishy about the last election, we’ve got a problem. And this is part of the reason why, I think, the conversation around voting rights at a national level is important.’
Check out some of Obama’s comments to Cooper below:
Obama on the state of American democracy: "I think we have to worry when one of our major political parties is willing to embrace a way of thinking about our democracy that would be unrecognizable and unacceptable even five years ago or a decade ago." pic.twitter.com/8zASmdRLcW
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 8, 2021
Obama also cited what he called the importance of “conversations” about issues including the “elimination of the filibuster” and an “end to partisan gerrymandering,” adding that it’s also critical “for us to figure out how do we start once again being able to tell a common story about where this country goes.” At present, filibuster rules in the Senate require the agreement of 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving forward on most legislation, meaning that a minority in the chamber can band together and block progress, including on the recently proposed federal voting rights protections that Obama implicitly referenced.
Recent proposals that are hanging in limbo in the Senate include the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, the latter of which would restore a requirement for federal reviews of certain proposed local-level changes to the administering of elections. The idea is to stop potentially suppressive moves before their implementation.