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Manchin deals critical blow to election reform legislation


Sara Swann

When Sen. Joe Manchin announced Sunday he would not vote in favor of the For the People Act, he dealt another critical blow to his party's sweeping election overhaul legislation. But reformers haven't given up hope.

Manchin put the focus squarely on the partisan divide: Democrats are pushing the legislation without any support from Republicans.

"Unfortunately, we now are witnessing that the fundamental right to vote has itself become overtly politicized," Manchin wrote in an op-ed for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. "As such, congressional action on federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both Democrats and Republicans coming together to find a pathway forward or we risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials."

Democracy reform advocates lambasted Manchin for focusing on the legislative process, rather than the substance of the bill. While his opposition creates a huge barrier for their cause, advocates remain determined to get the For the People Act across the finish line.

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Music and dance continue to drive change

The Kennedy Center represents the cultural diversity of our country, and the language of the music and the dance presented over the course of the program illustrates how it often has been a catalyst for change, writes David L. Nevins, co-publisher of The Fulcrum and co-founder and board chairman of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund.

'Reunited States' now available on Amazon Prime

"The Reunited States" is now available to all Amazon Prime members. The powerful documentary presents an opportunity to facilitate discussions with family and friends, connecting across what divides us when doing so seems more urgent than ever before.


Divided We Fall: How Business Can Depolarize the U.S. • Part 3

This is the third of a four-part webinar series to discuss the root causes of political polarization, its social and economic costs, and what the business community can do to reduce division and have the greatest unifying impact.


Memorial Day: An opportunity for renewal and remembrance

The Fulcrum's co-publisher Debilyn Molineaux looks back on the history and meaning of Memorial Day.

Memorial Day: An opportunity for renewal and remembrance

Growing up, Memorial Day was spent visiting the cemetery, buying paper red poppies from the American Legion seller at the drug store and enjoying an afternoon in grandma's backyard with family. Often there were charcoal-cooked hamburgers and hot dogs, but sometimes we just picked up food from McDonald's. Over time, as three-day weekends focused on retail sales, our awareness of national sacrifice has faded. We have little time for national remembrance and renewal. We've become focused on ourselves and our lives, separate from our national sense of identity.

But 2021 is different for me. Maybe for you, too? While we have not yet fully emerged from the pandemic, we hope to this summer. Where the last world war was fighting fascism, one current global war is against a virus that has no boundaries. And the death toll has been costly; currently over 3.5 million souls lost, 600,000 in the United States. What is our remembrance of those we've lost? As a nation? As a world?

The origins of Memorial Day are generally agreed upon. It started in the southern states after the Civil War. It was a time when we fought over the soul of our nation; upending an unfair and inhumane economic system in favor of freedom and advancement of civil rights. Mourning together, honoring the dead of our brother/enemy was part of healing.

There is evidence, too, that newly freed people in Charleston, S.C., were the first to hold a Memorial Day remembrance.

"...on May 1, 1865, something even more extraordinary happened. According to two reports that (David) Blight found in The New York Tribune and The Charleston Courier, a crowd of 10,000 people, mostly freed slaves with some white missionaries, staged a parade around the race track. Three thousand Black school children carried bouquets of flowers and sang "John Brown's Body." Members of the famed 54th Massachusetts and other Black Union regiments were in attendance and performed double-time marches. Black ministers recited verses from the Bible.

"It's the fact that this occurred in Charleston at a cemetery site for the Union dead in a city where the Civil war had begun," says Blight, "and that it was organized and done by African American former slaves is what gives it such poignancy."

As is our custom in the United States, one good idea begets another; the women of the South honored Confederate and Union fallen soldiers in 1866 by decorating their graves. Gen. John Logan incorporated the remembrance into the U.S. military in 1868, as a way to unite the nation. He was following the lead of Abraham Lincoln, who, in his 1865 Second Inaugural Address, called upon us "to bind up the nation's wound ... to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

Following the Civil War, towns and states began holding remembrance events in May.

At the conclusion of The Great War (later called World War I), Moina Michael noted that the sacrifices were not just the fallen soldiers, but the disabled men who came home and were forever changed. She was inspired by Lt. Col. John McCrae's 1915 poem "In Flanders Field," which equated red poppies to both the courage of the men and the blood that was spilled. Michael adopted the red poppy to promote veterans' causes and raise money to help veterans. This is how I ended up with a paper red poppy pinned to my clothes in the 1970s. It was a symbol of our remembrance for the fallen and injured in all wars and conflicts.

This year, I'm pinning a red poppy on my social media accounts.

I want our nation to remember the sacrifice of our ancestors. To remember why we are a nation, forever flawed and forever seeking a more perfect union. I want us to renew our vow this Memorial Day to each other. To our shared grief for those lost to Covid, to violence, to disease and, yes, to war.

My hope is that by sharing our pain, we can find our shared humanity. And move forward forever changed, but better for seeing each other fully.


Op-eds of the week: Jan. 6, social justice, communications disorder

Our weekly op-ed highlight reel

Don't let the Jan. 6 commission be another missed opportunity

The Senate needs to approve a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection. The partisan alternative would be messier and less believable, writes Debilyn Molineaux, co-publisher of The Fulcrum.

Does anyone care about the poor?

Both the left and the right avoid serious answers on the subjective plight of the demoralized poor. Public policy analysts A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner ask: Are there transpartisan approaches that deserve attention from people who really do care about the issue?

$6 trillion spending plan exemplifies our communication disorder

Our politics is so dysfunctional that communication from both sides of the aisle and from the traditional media, and social media, is very distorted. Coverage of proposed infrastructure spending offers an example of the dysfunction," writes former congressional candidate and editor Dave Anderson.

Democrats must seize the moment or risk losing Black voters

The political establishment, namely the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress, cannot be complacent because Black voters keep voting. But delivering on campaign promises will shore up support, argue Mario A. Brossard and Alexander Ivey of Global Strategy Group.

Meanwhile, here are our latest news stories:

More voting restrictions have been signed into law this year than ever before

Partisanship likely to derail insurrection commission


For the People Act falls victim to partisan dysfunction


For the People Act falls victim to partisan dysfunction

When Sen. Joe Manchin's office told CNN this week that he opposes the For the People Act, the West Virginia Democrat struck a fatal blow to his party's signature legislation to overhaul the elections, redistricting, campaign finance and ethics rules.

From its debut in 2019, the legislation was considered a long shot at best and likely nothing more than a messaging platform for Democrats. That prediction -- the first article written by The Fulcrum -- has come to fruition two and a half years later as the parties avoided attempts at compromise and fought over congressional rules that stymied passage.

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Help the people fielding death threats to Congress: staff

Members of Congress are on the receiving end of a massive increase in hostile messages and death threats. Congressional staff, who answer the phones and open the emails, take the brunt of the abuse, argues Bradford Fitch.

Video: Connection, not division

Now more than ever our nation needs citizens to connect in the midst of the deep division that separate us. Healing America can begin with courageous conversation, share members of the Civic Health Project.


The People National Assembly: Seeking Effective Elections

This year will mark the 3rd annual (Virtual) National Assembly of The People. The event will not only provide the opportunity for some meaningful conversations and bridge-building, but also to hear from those actively involved in reform, and we will take it one step further with the collective creation of action steps forward towards real system reform.

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