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Activists Plan To Convince Sinema, Manchin To Support Filibuster Reform By Calling Them Racist

Activists Plan To Convince Sinema, Manchin To Support Filibuster Reform By Calling Them Racist

Civil rights activists say they aim to convince Democrat “swing vote” Senators Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Joe Manchin (WV) to support ending the filibuster by accusing them of “supporting racism” and opposing voting rights for minorities.

Democrats are aiming to do away with the filibuster in order to make pressing through progressive agenda items easier. Without the filibuster, they would need just a simple majority — 50 senators plus the support of Vice President Kamala Harris — to enact major changes to federal law without the “super-majority” of 60 votes currently required.Without the filibuster, Democrats might easily pass gun control, make major reforms to voting laws that could loosen protections against election fraud, and end restrictions on immigration, according to proposals made by the Biden administration.

Sinema and Manchin, however, likely stand in the way of Democrat efforts, and while both have expressed tepid support for making slight changes to filibuster rules, neither has fully committed to doing away with the procedural tool, leaving progressives furious. In past weeks, a number of Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have tried to move Sinema and Manchin on the issue by suggesting that the Senate filibuster is a tool historically used by racists to protect white supremacy — a suggestion that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called a cynical ploy for unchecked power.

Rev. Al Sharpton told Politico on Thursday that he plans to take the racism claim one step further and charge both Sinema and Manchin with supporting and facilitating white supremacy if they do not commit to filibuster reform.

“The pressure that we are going to put on Sinema and Manchin is calling [the filibuster] racist and saying that they are, in effect, supporting racism,” Sharpton said. “Why would they be wedded to something that has those results? Their voters need to know that.”

Sharpton told Politico that he is not concerned what racism accusations might do to a politician’s reputation, even if those accusations are not supported by evidence. The ends, he seemed to tell Politico, justify the means.

“Many of us, and certainly all of us in the civil rights leadership, are committed to policies and laws and causes, not to people’s political careers. We’re not into that. We want to change the country,” he said. “And if there is not feasible evidence that we’re doing that, it is not in our concern to be aggressively involved.”

Sharpton may be the highest-profile civil rights activist to speak on the issue, but others told Politico they would follow his lead.

“What do they expect me to say if we can’t get anything passed? Do they want me to go out and explain to people [what] the filibuster [is]?” the president of Color of Change said in an interview with the outlet. “[Voters aren’t] going to want to hear about the filibuster. They’re not going to hear about bipartisanship. They’re going to hear about how you fought back in the face of the barriers that were put in the way.”

Manchin would likely be the target of most of Sharpton’s rhetoric given that he is the only Senator who has yet to sign on to support HR1 the so-called “For the People Act” which, Politico notes, would “drastically transform nearly every aspect of the American electoral system, from campaign financing to how elections are conducted.”

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