The battle to protect voting rights needs a field general. Vice President Kamala Harris needs a cause to define her tenure. The second problem suggests the answer to the first: President Joe Biden could designate Harris as the administration’s point person in combatting the onslaught against voter access now advancing in Republican-controlled states.
Both Biden and Harris are speaking more explicitly now than they have in the past about that threat; each delivered forceful statements last weekend on the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when Alabama state troopers brutally attacked protesters marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in Selma. Even though they welcomed the pointed comments, civil-rights advocates I spoke with almost uniformly agree that most Americans remain unaware of the magnitude of the assault on voting rights, an outgrowth of former President Donald Trump’s discredited claims of massive fraud in the 2020 election.
That’s spurring preliminary talk in civil-rights circles about organizing a modern Selma—a contemporary protest comparable to the iconic 1965 march, which provided crucial momentum for the passage of the original Voting Rights Act that year, one prominent national civil-rights leader told me, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “We’re witnessing the greatest rollback of voting rights since the birth of Jim Crow,” the leader said. “Plans are already under discussion for a potential march in D.C. or Atlanta to highlight the outrage about these state-based attacks on American democracy.”