Clyburn: Pass voting bills or Democrats will lose majorities

As a young civil rights activist, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn was involved in protests that led to passage of the Voting Rights Act. Now, the 81-year-old Democrat from South Carolina, whose endorsement is widely credited with helping Joe Biden turn around his bid for the 2020 presidential nomination, says Congress needs to act to stop a new assault on voting.

The House has passed one sweeping bill — dubbed HR 1, or the For the People Act — that sets standards for voting and overhauls campaign finance and ethics law. But an attempt to bring it up was defeated in the Senate. Another measure — dubbed HR 4, or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — is being drafted in the House and getting attention in the Senate. Clyburn joined CQ Roll Call’s Equal Time podcast last month to discuss what’s at stake and how he expects it to play out. An edited transcript:

‘Punching down,’ the political weapon of so-called tough guys

The late great stand-up, actor and occasional philosopher George Carlin was known to cross the lines of what polite society would call good taste, but he himself drew a few lines when it came to his theory of funny.

Asked by Larry King in 1990 about popular bad-boy comedian Andrew Dice Clay, Carlin, while defending Clay’s right to say whatever, said, “His targets are underdogs. And comedy has traditionally picked on people in power, people who abuse their power.” Clay’s core audience, Carlin said, were “young white males” threatened by Clay’s targets, assertive women and immigrants among them.

Rule-breaker Eddie Murphy came to look back on his younger self, the brash young man dressed in leather, and cringe, especially at his jokes about women and relationships, he told The New York Times in 2019. “I was a young guy processing a broken heart, you know, kind of an …” — well, you get the idea.

In today’s cruel world, it’s not just comedians punching down, reaching for the “easy” joke, setting new and low standards, though a few still revel in their ability to shock (see Michael Che and his approving nods to vile remarks about the sexual abuse of young female athletes).

Many who should know better have given up seeking a more perfect union, one that welcomes all. They see advantage in aggression and, unlike Murphy, don’t feel one bit embarrassed when reflecting on their words and actions.

In fact, the “punching” is the point, and it’s always aimed squarely at those perceived as less powerful, from poor and disabled Americans who want to vote without jumping through unnecessary hoops and facing intimidation from poll watchers to transgender children eager to play sports to Black and brown students who would like their role in the country’s history to be taught without accommodation for those too fragile to hear the truth.

‘This is about whether or not we will have a democracy or an autocracy,’ Clyburn says on voting rights

Voter nullification, authoritarianism and the end of democracy — that’s what Rep. James E. Clyburn says are the very real consequences of not passing legislation to protect voting rights. The South Carolina Democrat emphasized that voter suppression is not just an issue of access to the ballot box, but includes who gets to overturn elections.

“I want you to call it what it is. Use the word. Nullification,” said Clyburn“It is voter nullification.”

There are currently two bills on the issue, the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, before Congress. Senate Democrats are meeting to hash out a revised bill that could be released next week.

Mary C. Curtis sits down with the House majority whip to discuss voting rights, and to understand what are the very high stakes and what can be done with dwindling time on the clock.

For GOP, ‘back the blue’ doesn’t matter when there’s an election to be won

It was both politically smart, and the right thing to do.

By opening the hearing of the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol with the testimony of police officers on the front line, still suffering from the effects of the violence of that day, the world got to hear what really happened and to see the human cost.

Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell compared it with his Army service, “different” because the Jan. 6 attackers were “our own citizens.” He described warning his worried wife away when she tried to hug him on his return home because his uniform was drenched with chemical spray. D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges said white rioters tried to recruit him as one of their own: “Are you my brother?” one asked. Another told Hodges he would “die on your knees.” MPD Officer Michael Fanone thought he would be killed and almost was, before his plea that he had kids moved a few.

Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who is African American, is still in therapy after being booed and showered with obscenities and racial slurs. “Frankly, I guess it is America,” he said.

Mary C. Curtis: Donald Trump Jumps Into 2022 NC Senate Race, Endorses Rep. Ted Budd

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Three-term Republican U.S. Senator Richard Burr’s plans to retire from the Senate has left an opening that several North Carolina Republicans hope to fill. During his weekend speech at the state GOP convention, Donald Trump made clear that he is still the party’s leader and intends to play a part in the primary process. Now that his daughter-in-law, North Carolina’s own Lara Trump has said she is not running – for now — Trump has endorsed U.S. Rep. Ted Budd.

While others running aren’t that happy, count former Gov. Pat McCrory among them, others in the GOP establishment wonder if Trump is a help or hindrance as he continues to focus not on the future but on the past. That past is the 2020 presidential contest and Trump’s continued false insistence that he won and that there was widespread fraud.

When an insurrection is seen as just another day in America

Is America getting a thirst for blood?

It’s a question I ask after hearing too many Republicans dismiss the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob trying to halt the counting of American citizens’ votes as a “normal tourist visit,” in the words of Georgia Rep. Andrew S. Clyde, the same Clyde seen — mouth open and terrified — helping to barricade the besieged doors that day.

When I was a Baltimore schoolgirl, we often visited Washington, D.C., to tour the monuments. It was an easy and informative field trip, barely an hour away by bus. Now kids can occasionally be unruly, and the nuns had to raise their voices once or twice. But I don’t recall ever erecting gallows on the Capitol lawn, breaking windows or pummeling police officers with batons and their own shields. In fact, I’m sure it would have made the front pages if a bunch of Black grade schoolers from St. Pius V Elementary ventured a foot beyond the velvet ropes, let alone desecrated the beautiful marble floors of a government building by using them as a toilet.

Have things changed that much for Clyde and all the others asking Americans and the world not to believe their lying eyes?

POLITICAL WRAP: Liz Cheney Likely to be Ousted from GOP Leadership

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Representative Liz Cheney is likely to lose her position as the number three House Republican.

Cheney is among the few members of the GOP to vote for the second impeachment of then-President Donald Trump.

Our political contributor, Mary C. Curtis, gives us her take in the video above.

Back to the Future: The ERA

The Equal Rights Amendment known as ERA — yes that ERA — is back.

The House passed a bill last week that would extend the deadline to ratify the amendment to the Constitution prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex.

But is this five-decade-old amendment up to this moment? A moment that includes #MeToo, rising hate crimes against women of color and a pandemic that has battered women more than men? We turn to professor Julie Suk, who published “We the Women: The Unstoppable Mothers of the Equal Rights Amendment,” to discuss.

Mary C. Curtis: What’s Included in the COVID Relief Bill

CHARLOTTE, NC — Congress is on the verge of passing the one point nine trillion dollar COVID-19 relief bill.

The historic legislation proposes to give relief to millions of Americans affected during the year long pandemic.

So what’s in the bill and how will it affect you? WCCB Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis breaks it all down.

You can catch Mary C. Curtis on Sunday nights at 6:30 PM on WCCB Charlotte’s CW discussing the biggest issues in local and national politics and also giving us a look at what’s ahead for the week.

A window into the life and work of Stacey E. Plaskett

When Virgin Islands Del. Stacey Plaskett took center stage last month as a House manager in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, America took note. A star was born.

In the latest episode of Equal Time, Mary C. Curtis talks with Plaskett about the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, her work on the House Ways and Means Committee, inequities in infrastructure and education, and even hip-hop.