Ehrlich: Ever Had a Conversation with a Progressive Friend That Sounds Like This?


What if your progressive friend or neighbor or relative or co-worker or roommate wanted to engage you on President Biden’s voting rights proposal, otherwise known as the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act? Would your conversation sound something close to the following?

You: I’m struggling to understand this new voting rights bill. Last week, the president labeled those who oppose his bill “domestic enemies.” Does he think that Americans who are opposed to this legislation are racists and/or white supremacists? Or did I miss something?

Progressive: That pretty much captures the president’s message. What’s your point?

You: Well, I thought the president’s central narrative was all about a return to normalcy. You know, lowering the political temperature and bringing America back together after all the vitriol of the Trump era.

Progressive: That was before the turncoats Sinema and Manchin killed “Build Back Better.”

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You: What does one have to do with the other —

Progressive: Nothing.

You: Say what?

Progressive: We simply needed to get on with our progressive agenda, and what better way than attacking Republicans over minority voting rights?

You: Okay. So when did requiring photo identification of voters — a requirement in the president’s home state of Delaware — morph into Jim Crow?

Progressive: The day Donald J. Trump was allegedly elected president of the United States.

You: But he won that election fair and square.

Progressive: And I suppose you also believe that Stacey Abrams is not the duly elected governor of Georgia?

You: Stacey Abrams is not the governor of Georgia.

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Progressive: If only your conscience would catch up to your mouth.

You: I still don’t get it. Democrats contested Republican presidential victories in 2000, 2004 and 2016 and the legacy media did not raise a peep. They even chimed in.

Progressive: Your oppression is showing. Why do you hate so much?

You: Let’s look at this another way. Can you identify even one American who has had his or her right to vote denied?

Progressive: That’s not the point. We know mandatory photo identification is yet another way to suppress minority voters. Why else would MAGA types support it?

You: Did you know that states that require photo ID have increased their minority turnout?

Progressive: Your facts are not my proof.

You: Say what?

Progressive: The vice president has admonished us to live our truth, not “The Man’s” truth.

You: But “The Man” has nothing to do with objective facts —

Progressive: Maybe that’s the case in your xenophobic world.

You: Say what?

Progressive: We believe everyone should be allowed to vote. No questions asked.

You: But non-citizen voting goes right to the heart of American sovereignty.

Progressive: You nativists just don’t get it. Fences are immoral, walls are immoral. Nancy Pelosi said so herself.

You: Are you saying that anyone who shows up at the local precinct should be allowed to vote?

Progressive: Yep.

You: But the Constitution forbids non-citizen voting in federal elections.

Progressive: Not for long …

You: What does that mean?

Progressive: An enlarged Supreme Court will fix that problem.

You: Say what?

Progressive: And we’re going to eliminate that racist filibuster, too.

You: But Democratic leaders have long defended the filibuster as a necessary tool in the defense of minority rights. Geez, Democratic senators employed it 314 times during the Trump era.

Progressive: That was our truth then … this is our truth now. What part of living in the moment don’t you understand?

You: I can’t wait for November …

Progressive: Remember: Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

You: Uh, Emerson’s quote is, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

Progressive: Say what?

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Robert Ehrlich is a former governor of Maryland as well as a former U.S. congressman and state legislator. He is the author of “Bet You Didn’t See That One Coming: Obama, Trump, and the End of Washington’s Regular Order,” in addition to “Turn This Car Around,” “America: Hope for Change" and “Turning Point.” Ehrlich is currently a counsel at the firm of King & Spalding in Washington, D.C.