Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen joined most of their fellow Senate Democrats Wednesday night in an attempt to achieve a long-standing goal of the American Left and kill the filibuster rule. The effort failed 52-48.
The outcome of the vote had been pre-ordained for weeks with Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kirsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) repeatedly expressed their opposition to abandoning the Senate rule.
Both Hassan and Shaheen signed a 2017 letter defending the filibuster and declaring it vital to the working of the U.S. Senate. “We are united in our determination to preserve the ability of Members to engage in extended debate when bills are on the Senate floor,” they wrote.
However, both chose to follow the direction of their party’s leadership and vote to kill the rule.
Democrats like Hassan argued the filibuster rule could be temporarily set aside to deal with what they claim is a national crisis, America’s voting laws. They want to pass a federal oversight bill that would override the ability of local voters to pass election laws. For example, New Hampshire would be mandated to count late-arriving ballots, and federal candidates would get millions in public money to pay for their campaign ads and consultants.
In an odd reversal, President Biden and Senator Hassan are suggesting Trump-like conspiracies are afoot, making elections potentially illegitimate.
Asked at his press conference Wednesday if America’s 2022 elections “will be fairly conducted and its results will be legitimate” without the new federal rules, Biden answered, “It depends.”
“Well, it all depends on whether or not we’re able to make the case to the American people that some of this is being set up to try to alter the outcome of the election,” Biden said. “But it’s going to be difficult. I make no bones about that; it’s going to be difficult.”
Asked in a follow up if he thought it was possible the midterm elections will be illegitimate, Biden doubled down:
“I think it easily could be illegitimate,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s going to be legit. The increase in the prospect of being illegitimate is a direct proportion to us not being able to get these reforms passed.”
President Trump was frequently criticized during the 2020 campaign for suggesting to his supporters that the outcome of the election would be illegitimate. Many of the supporters of breaking the filibuster refer to Trump’s questioning of the 2020 results as “The Big Lie.”
It’s not just Biden and Trump. When she announced her reversal on the filibuster in December, Hassan also weaved a tale of electoral dystopia for New Hampshire’s elections should the progressive legislation fail.
“If the partisans who are attacking our democracy have their way, our Tuesday Election Day in early November will be different,” Hassan warned from the Senate floor. “We’ll wake up, cast our vote, drop our kids at school, go to work. We’ll tune back in at the end of the day to see the election results – only to learn that the vote tally is being ignored, that our votes don’t matter much. We’ll learn that our legislatures are going to throw out the results and pick their own winner.
“We’ll see an election day that is a charade – just like in countries where democracy doesn’t exist.”
NHJournal has repeatedly asked Hassan to provide any examples of eligible voters being prevented from registering or voting in New Hampshire. She has declined to respond.
Polls of voters — as well as voters at the polls — both contradict claims that access to the voting booth is a problem. A new St. Anslem poll released Wednesday asked Granite Staters to rank their most important issues. After weeks of media coverage and advertising, the election issue ranked 8th, at just 4 percent. That’s similar to multiple national polls on the topic.
And then there are the votes cast at America’s polls. Every national election since 2008 has had massive turnout. Biden acknowledged as much during his presser.
“Remember how we thought not that many people were going to show up to vote in the middle of a pandemic?” Biden said of the 2020 election. “We had the highest voter turnout in the history of the United States of America.”
Even Senator Shaheen has joined the conspiracy theorists, telling radio host Jack Heath last week that the New Hampshire legislature could no longer be trusted to oversee elections because Republicans had won a majority. She claimed that proposals to end same-day voter registration — which is extremely unlikely to pass — are a form of voter suppression.
Only 20 states currently have same-day registration, even as voter turnout has been higher than usual for years.
Hassan and Shaheen, who participated in more than 300 filibusters when Republicans controlled the Senate in 2020, have now abandoned it on behalf of a cause important to wealthy progressive donors. But based on the polls, it’s irrelevant to the average voter. Hassan has also made it even harder to portray herself as a bipartisan moderate. A partisan attempt to use a tied U.S. Senate (and V.P. Harris) to break the filibuster is not bipartisan, nor is it moderate.