Exercise in Futility

President Joe Biden is beating his head against a wall trying to override anti-voting laws adopted by Republican-led states. He can’t win because the Senate GOP is headed by the ruthless Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a threat to majority rule, the essence of democracy.

Moreover, he is playing hardball while Biden is weakening the presidential bully pulpit by lobbing softballs urging Republicans to pass his For the People Act and the Voting Rights Advancement Act to make voting state suppression laws null and void.

McConnell cannot be expected to vote for something against the wishes of state-level Republicans who insist on trying to prevent as many votes as possible for Democratic candidates. For him, the big picture is his party, not the country.

“There is an unfolding assault taking place in America today,” Biden said last week at the National Constitutional Center in Philadelphia. “An attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote in fair and free elections, an assault on democracy, an assault on liberty, an assault on who we are — who we are as Americans.”

Stirring words intended to spur action. But ignored by Republicans. As of June 21, 17 states have enacted 28 laws restricting access to voting, says the Brennan Center for Justice.

It’s gotten to the point at which Biden will have to do something, meaning ending the Senate filibuster rule, if he wants his bills resurrecting the right for all to vote to pass with a majority, not depending on 60 votes required by a filibuster.

That means convincing Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to accept voting against the filibuster. It means preventing minority rule by obstinate Republicans.

If not for Donald Trump, none of this would be happening.

The focus of the Republican campaign to stifle voting, all promoted by Trump’s Big Lie that fraudulent voting made him lose the election, has shifted to Texas. That’s where Democrats twice walked out of the GOP-majority legislature to prevent passage of laws making it harder to vote.

The legislation not only would ban drive-through and 24-hour voting, limit a third party from collecting ballots and add other restrictions but would hit election workers with additional criminal penalties for violating regulations and give more authority to partisan poll watchers.

What seems so incredible, so dismaying, so disillusioning, so beyond the pale, is that behind all of this is Trump’s outright public fornication of the truth, a sordid distortion of Biden’s election victory that was backed up by the Electoral College, the courts and vote recounts.

And the problem is that never in memory have so many Americans been taken in, like how the Germans embraced Adolf Hitler.

As Tara Setmayer, a onetime Republican strategist who is a senior adviser to the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, put it to the Guardian: [Trump] is “a madman with millions of followers, including powerful members of the United States government.”

Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, became anxious when Trump incessantly lied about the election and told aides the president and his allies may want to use the military to stay in office, according to the book, “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year,” by The Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker.

“This is a Reichstag moment, Milley told aides, they wrote. “The gospel of the Führer.”

The Reichstag was the Berlin building that was the home of parliament. It burst into flames on Feb. 27, 1933, four weeks after Hitler took office as chancellor. He used the fire as a pretext to suspend most civil liberties.

And there’s a new justification being pushed by ever-Trumpers for the Capitol siege Jan. 6, in which five people died and hundreds of Trump supporters assaulted about 140 police. More than 500 people have been charged with criminal offenses.

A Twitter thread by a former podcaster, Darryl Cooper, posited that those who stormed the Capitol believed they were doing the right thing because “they had been cheated out of power they deserved,” according to David Frum, a staff writer at The Atlantic. Emphasis his.

Tucker Carlson of Fox News read the thread aloud on his commentary show, Frum wrote.

“We’re past the point of pretending it was antifa that did January 6, past the point of pretending that Trump didn’t want what he fomented and what he got,” Frum opined. “. . . The new line about the attack on the Capitol is guilty but justified. (His emphasis.) The election of 2020 was a fraud, and so those who lost it are entitled to overturn it.”

“Once repudiated,” he wrote, “the attacks are now accepted, condoned and even endorsed.”

We’ve seen what happens when a lie becomes truth for many.

Trump repeatedly praised the attackers in an interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on her Sunday morning show July 11. Politico quoted him during his pre-siege rally on the Ellipse:

“The crowd was unbelievable and I mentioned the word ‘love,’ the love in the air, I’ve never seen anything like it. That’s why they went to Washington.” He described them as “great people.”

With this state of mind accepted not only by his followers but by leaders of the Republican Party, how can Biden be expected to get anything but budget items passed by the Senate.

Richard C. Gross, who covered war and peace in the Middle East and was foreign editor of United Press International, served as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.