Democrats Have a Plan to Start Rebuilding American Democracy. Can They Get It Done?
The January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol brought into hideous relief the perilous condition of the oldest democracy in the world. But the mob assault on the Capitol was a capstone, the latest in a long line of symptoms that the American system of government was flatlining. Those other symptoms include, but are by no means limited to, racially motivated voter suppression, politically driven gerrymandering, the influence of the super-wealthy and corporations in elections, the flow of untraceable dark money, and the spread of viral disinformation such that Americans can’t even agree on basic facts anymore. To meet this crisis, House and Senate Democrats have introduced a pair of companion bills, both titled the For the People Act, a mega-bill filled with reforms and repairs that would begin the long-overdue work of restoring American democracy. House Democrats first introduced and passed H.R. 1 in 2019, but then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the bill from passage. Now, with Democrats in control of Congress, H.R. 1 and S. 1, the Senate companion bill, are a top priority for the Democratic Congress and President Biden. Rolling Stone spoke with one of the architects of H.R. 1, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), about what’s in the new version of the bill, how the late Congressman John Lewis shaped H.R. 1’s sweeping set of voting-rights reforms, and the bill’s prospects for passage in Congress.”