Rev. Dr. William Barber blasted the “straight Trumpian” language that shows up in Sen. Joe Manchin’s Freedom to Vote Act and while he was at it, Barber had some blunt comments about Democrats’ overall messaging, too.
October 17, 2021

When asked by Ali Velshi what he thought of Machin’s bill, which the Senate will vote on next week, Barber never had a good word to say about it. He started with the name: “We don’t have a freedom to vote, we have a right to vote. That should be amended.” Barber began.

Barber’s biggest objection was over the bill's voter ID requirements.

BARBER: This is the first time in history we would have codified voter ID as necessary for election integrity. That's straight Trumpian, Republican language. That should not be in the bill because it's not true. A signature attestation is what has worked and what should be there. Also, what we see is he's slowly putting different things in that come straight out of the Republican lingo.


The problem is not just what's in the bill or what's left out of the bill but what he's slipping into the bill. The first time, again, Ali, in 200 some odd years we will codify that voter ID [is integral to voter integrity]. That’s dangerous language. especially since in North Carolina, we just won on a voter ID case in the courts, where the court said that it was being used to suppress the vote.

Barber also criticized Manchin for supporting John Lewis’ For The People Act voting rights when he was alive. Now he doesn't. And since Manchin won’t commit to ending the filibuster, “he’s got [the Democrats] negotiating on something that may not even pass, because he’s never going to break the filibuster.”

The other Democrats and the White House could be doing a much better job, too. Barber pointed to one thing that’s been bugging me: that Democrats should stop making voting rights about people of color and start making it part of a bigger picture.

BARBER: The Democrats should have started this messaging. They should have had the faces and the voices of people who would be impacted. We tried to say this to the handlers of the president at the White House, and for some reason they didn't get it. They should have never let voting rights just be a Black issue and then separate it out from the economic issue.

They should have had people whose lives were being impacted, both the people whose lives will be impacted by the Build Back Better plan - the women, the mothers, the children, the workers, the people at risk for climate difficulty, and the people that would be impacted by voter suppression because it's not just Black people.

The laws that these state legislatures are trying to put in place would affect 56 million Americans who use things like mail-in ballots and same-day registration and early voting in the last election. We should have made this a matter of democracy.

Now, we have time to do it, but I'm afraid that what has happened is people have gotten caught up in, is this Manchin's bill or Biden's bill? Is it $3 trillion or $4 trillion for any of these pieces of legislation? Rather than what's the impact. Who will it affect, who will it hurt, how will it further the democracy? ...

Poor and low-income voters represent 30% of the electorate. And voter suppression will hurt poor and low-wealth people of every race, creed, and color. Not to pass a voter protection, not to pass some kind of investment in poor and low-wealth communities is economically insane and politically incompetent.


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