Democrats Are Split Over How Much The Party And American Democracy Itself Are In Danger

“Here’s the Democratic nightmare: Biden and congressional Democrats pass a few major bills over the next two years but leave the filibuster in place, preventing the passage of major reforms to America’s electoral system. A federal judiciary stacked with Trump appointees strikes down all or parts of many of the laws the Democrats do pass as well as many of Biden’s executive actions, leaving Democrats few permanent policy victories and driving down the president’s approval ratings.

Meanwhile, Republicans use their control of most state legislatures to draw state legislative and U.S. House district lines in ways that are even more favorable to the GOP than the current ones and enact laws that make it harder for liberal-leaning voting blocs to cast ballots. Combine gerrymandering, voting limitations, lackluster poll numbers for Biden and the historic trend of voters rejecting the party of the incumbent president in a midterm election, and it results in the Republicans winning control of the House and the Senate and making even more gains at the state legislative level in November 2022.

Post-2022, Republicans in Congress block everything Biden tries to do, further driving down his approval ratings. Meanwhile, Republicans use their enhanced power at the state level to continue to adopt laws that make it harder for people in liberal-leaning constituencies to vote and harder for Democrats to win in swing states. Then, these laws are upheld by lower courts and a U.S. Supreme Court still packed with Trump appointees. In 2024, Biden (or whomever the Democrats nominate) wins the popular vote but still loses the Electoral College — in part because Republicans have limited Democratic votes in some swing states. A GOP with control of the White House, Senate, House and most state governments in 2025 then effectively creates a system of “minority rule” in which Republicans can keep control of America’s government for decades even if the majority of voters favor Democrats as well as liberal and left-of-center policies.

In this scenario, the Democratic Party is in peril, but in some ways so is American democracy more broadly. So to this camp, Democrats must act aggressively and quickly over the next two years to forestall this outcome, by getting rid of the filibuster as it currently operates (most legislation requires 60 votes to pass in the Senate) and enacting an aggressive “democracy agenda.” This is a pro-democratic (small “d”) agenda in many ways, particularly in giving residents of Washington, D.C., representation in Congress and enhancing protections of the right to vote for Black Americans who live in GOP-dominated states. But it’s also clearly a pro-Democratic agenda (big “D”) in that it would, for example, add the two senators from D.C., who would almost certainly be Democrats.

Pfeiffer describes whether the Democrats get rid of the filibuster in the next two years as “the decision that will decide the next decade.” He argues that keeping the filibuster may be effectively “a decision to return to the minority and stay there for at least a decade.”

“The door is closing quickly in terms of us staying a functioning democracy. We have no time to waste,” said Meagan Hatcher-Mays, director of democracy policy at Indivisible. “Democrats have been handed this power to save it. We don’t have two years. We have a year. The window to actually get things done is really closer to 10 months.””

“Democrats would need every Democratic senator on board to get rid of the filibuster, so these members are super-important. And over the last few months, Manchin and Sinema have said they are strongly opposed to getting rid of the filibuster. Longtime senators like Feinstein have hinted in the past that they are wary of such a move too.

Part of this opposition to getting rid of the filibuster reflects ideological differences — Manchin in particular is more conservative than most (if not all) congressional Democrats. So he probably isn’t dying to get rid of the filibuster to vote for a $15 federal minimum wage, for example, because it’s not clear he favors that idea anyway.

But this bloc also disagrees with the this-is-an-emergency camp about the state of American politics right now. Feinstein is fairly liberal on policy issues. But she, like Manchin and Sinema, has suggested she wants to work in a Senate that is not hyperpartisan and seems to believe that is possible. In the view of people in this camp, the Republican Party is not completely dominated by an anti-democratic wing that won’t work with Democrats. So members in this camp view getting rid of the filibuster and other more aggressive moves as not only unnecessary but potentially really bad — making the Senate and Washington overall even more gridlocked and polarized than they already are.”

Science-Based Policy Means Decriminalizing Sex Work, Say Hundreds of Researchers

“”The data clearly shows that criminalizing consensual adult sexual services causes severe harms, which fall mainly on the most marginalized groups—women, people of color, transgender and non-binary workers, workers’ with disabilities, and economically marginalized workers,” said Jones. This criminalization “does not prevent or minimize violence or abuse ostensibly identified with human trafficking.”

As we’ve been detailing for years here at Reason, this war on sex work not only harms people choosing to engage in prostitution but leaves little room for actually helping victims of violence and sexual exploitation.”

Colombia Is Giving Legal Status to Migrants Fleeing Venezuela

“Hernandez is one of 5.4 million Venezuelans that the United Nations estimates have fled their country due to violence, insecurity and threats; a collapsed economy; and a lack of food, medicine, and essential services. The International Monetary Fund expects that number to nearly double, to 10 million, by the end of 2023. As of January 2020, more than 1.7 million of those migrants were currently in Colombia.

Colombia will soon be offering migrants a full welcome. Duque’s announcement means Colombia will give nearly 2 million immigrants—almost 5 percent of Colombia’s total population—the ability to work legally and have access to education and health care systems. Those who register with the government will be put on a path to full citizenship.

Colombia’s choice stands in sharp contrast to the United States, where migrants from Central America must wait months on the Southern border in squalid conditions, where mass deportations (even amid a pandemic) are commonplace, and where even immigrants who have lived in the country for 20 years might find themselves ripped away from their families and banished from their new homeland for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

How the Pentagon Got Inside ISIS’ Chemical Weapons Operation—and Ended It

““We began to recognize that ISIS was pulling in not just fighters but people with unique skills: technical skills, scientific skills, financial skills,” said General Joseph Votel, the Pentagon’s special-operations chief at the time and a regular participant in the discussions. “That gave us pause. We all witnessed the horrific things they were doing. You had to make the presumption that if they got their hands on a chemical weapon, they would use it.””

A California Man Died After Cops Knelt on His Neck During a Mental Health Call. Then the Department Tried To Hide It.

“On December 23, cops responded to a call from Isabella Collins, Quinto’s sister, who reported a mental health crisis. A wrongful death claim filed by the family against the city of Antioch mentions that Quinto made a plea upon seeing the officers: “Please don’t kill me,” he said. He would be dead just moments later, after the cops knelt on Quinto’s neck for five minutes, according to the suit.

The claim notes that Quinto “had been suffering from depression, anxiety, and paranoia for the previous few months” and that the evening of December 23 brought on an episode of paranoia. “What are you doing?” he kept asking people in the house, following them as he feared they would leave him alone. Quinto’s sister phoned the police for help; Quinto’s mother, Maria Quinto-Collins, calmed her son by sitting with him on the floor as she held him “onto her chest with her hands clasped behind his back.”

Upon arriving, the officers removed him from Quinto-Collins’ arms and put him on the floor before one placed his leg on Quinto’s neck. “This is what we do to keep them calm,” he said.

That cop eventually got fatigued, and so the second officer replaced him, at which point Quinto began to bleed from his mouth. “At no time while being restrained did Mr. Quinto resist physically or verbally,” the suit says.

Video footage taken by Quinto-Collins shows police turning over her lifeless son to reveal blood dripping on his chin as they try to shake him awake. “What happened?” Quinto-Collins asks. “Please, please…What is happening? Does he have a pulse?”

Quinto was later transferred to a hospital, where he died three days later.”

“It’s an investigation that the public may never have known about if the police department, which attempted to conceal the information from both lawmakers and community members, had its way.”

Why Johnson & Johnson shots were paused — and why that’s so confusing

“Both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a pause in distributing the vaccine after six reported cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). These clots block blood flowing out of the brain and can quickly turn deadly.

The complications were found in women between the ages of 18 and 48, and they arose between six and 13 days after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “Of the clots seen in the United States, one case was fatal, and one patient is in critical condition,” said Peter Marks, the head of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, during a Tuesday press conference.”

“For regulators, the episode highlights the tricky challenge of balancing caution against an urgent need for a vaccine in a still-raging pandemic. And as they investigate the problem, they also have to try to maintain public confidence in the vaccination program. The pause helps show that regulators are taking potential problems seriously, but if they botch the messaging, that could make people less likely to get vaccinated.”

“there are several factors that made regulators pay close attention to the recent cases following vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson shot. Marks explained that patients with these clots also had thrombocytopenia, a condition where platelets in the blood drop to very low levels, leading to bleeding and bruising. The combination of blood clots and low platelets means that patients cannot receive conventional blood clot therapies like heparin, a blood thinner. That’s why health officials want to wait to resume vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until they can investigate the concern and come up with new guidelines if necessary.

Another factor is that these cases occurred in younger women, who normally don’t face a high risk of these types of clots.”

“when vaccines make the jump from thousands of carefully screened trial participants to millions of people in the general population, rare problems — the one-in-a-million complications — start to emerge.”

“Regulators could, then, take a similar approach with the Johnson & Johnson shot to the one they used for allergies and the mRNA vaccines, adding a screening criterion for people at highest risk of these blood clots before they receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.”