Brian Fitzpatrick and the Voting Law, 3.0

Did you watch Fridays with Fitzpatrick on January 14? If you did you would have seen the always-sleepy-looking Fitzpatrick talking about Ukraine (and how he is co-chair of the Congressional Russia-Ukraine caucus, without seeming to know that Biden had announced Russia’s false-flag operation as an excuse for an invasion). Then he segued into how people can get help with Covid – but it’s unclear what he has to do with that. Finally he showed videotape of him turning up at various Eagle scout awards ceremonies.

Fridays with Fitzpatrick was a ponderous 3 minutes and 24 seconds long.

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Brian Fitzpatrick at just one Eagle Scout ceremony he attended.

The thing Fitzpatrick avoided mentioning during those 3 minutes and 24 seconds was his vote in Congress on Thursday. NAY on the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, the slimmed down version of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which Fitzpatrick voted against in 2021.

But note this: in 2019, Brian Fitzpatrick was the LONE Republican who voted with the Democrats on the For the People Act, an astounding thing, since his vote was not necessary to get the bill passed. The vote was 228 to 187. This was the kernel of the current voting rights act. What changed? We’re guessing Brian Fitzpatrick got a talking to.

The next version of the bill, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, had language specifically aimed at preventing discrimination of minority voters. That was in March 2021, and by then Fitzpatrick was on board with the Republican caucus.

He said that such a bill would undermine faith in the election process. (Ahem!) Yes, up is down, left is right, and don’t believe your eyes or ears. He said: “H.R. 1 should not be called ‘For the people.’ It should be called ‘For the politicians.'”

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Charlton Heston discussing Civil Rights after taking part in the March on Washington in 1963

At this point it would be appropriate to suggest that Conservatives watch Charlton Heston at a roundtable discussion in 1963 about civil rights. He sits with Marlon Brando, James Balwin, Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte — who had joined 200,000 others that day in the March on Washington — while they discuss Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech that day and the need for change. The next year came the Civil Rights Act. And in 1965, the Voting Rights Act. Further ammendments to the Voting Rights act were heavily criticized by Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) for their “federal overreach.”

The bill that is going to the Senate, the one Fitzpatrick voted against, essentially takes voting rights back to where they were in 1965, although it does make election day a federal holiday. Leave it to Senate Republicans to strip that out.

It became necessary because Republican legislators across the country, north and south, have made it clear that they would deny voting rights to minorities, young voters, and anyone who remotely seemed likely to vote Democratic: In 2021, in 19 states, 34 laws were enacted making it harder to register, to vote by mail, limiting polling places and the use of secure drop boxes. Some laws undid the traditional non-partisan nature of election procedures, placing the administration of those elections into the hands of partisan state legislators.

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A standard opening shot from Fridays With Fitz

And that’s why certain states, where Republicans control the legislature, insist on what they call “state’s rights” and reject what they call “federal overreach.”

The Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said, on Fox News in June of 2021, that the Democrats have launched an assault on “free and fair elections.”

Blackburn said, “They are advocating policies that are going to result in removing the ability of state and counties to manage their own elections.”

Oh, horrors.     

The bill is taking away their ability to run those elections,” she said, as if that was a bad thing. What she wants is for “every legal vote to be counted.”

Each individual state would define “legal.”

Fitzpatrick needs to decide if he is running with the foxes or with the hounds on this issue. Should there be one definition of free and fair elections? Or should each state be able to decide just how free and just how fair? Fitzpatrick has played his “going along to get along” card during his two terms as our Congressman, but that may not last.

The most recent redistricting map for District 01 shows an even greater slice of dark blue MontCo added to Bucks County. While Fitzpatrick is scoring brownie points with his buddies in the Republican Caucus, he’d better make sure he is not being primaried on the right by Trumpier candidates, and flanked on the left by true blue Democrats. It’s a possibility. Because, Brian, you can’t keep jumping the fence, forever, y’know?

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Linda Lee

A former editor and reporter at The New York Times, Linda Lee has written seven books, and started a magazine about real estate and design in Miami. While her interest lies in Bucks County, her family lives near Harrisburg. She has a Shih Tzu named Yolo.

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