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 Contemplating the heroic life of Sen. John McCain, it was easy to think of him as the last true Republican—a politician who thought it his duty to elevate country over party. Elsewhere, hyper-partisanship and cowardice have become the norm in today’s GOP, scared to death of Fox News bluster and Donald Trump’s twitter feed.
As Hillary Clinton recently explained to Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press, McCain sought personal alliances with Democrats because he wanted the U.S. Senate to function as the Constitution intended.
“He knew that the Senate couldn’t work if we didn’t work together,” Clinton said. “I think it was heartbreaking to him that—as he said in the speech he gave right before he voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act, that we need to cooperate….He was so typically John in those remarks because he said stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on radio and TV and the internet. To the hell with them, they don’t want anything done for the public good. He really understood in the marrow of his bones what it meant to be an American and how important it was for us to, yes, disagree and differ. But at the end of the day to come together, to work together, to trust each other to get things done.”
Indeed, a farewell message from McCain to his Arizona constituents, emphasized exactly that: “We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil….We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down.”
Meanwhile, the wall-builder sulked in his tent like a counterfeit Achilles, the Wall Street Journal reported, because he thought the national outpouring of grief over McCain’s death was “over-the-top and more befitting a president.” It took the cajolery of Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the protests of the VFW and American Legion to persuade Trump to put aside his jealousy of a dead man and lower the White House flag to half-mast for an American hero.
Has there ever been a more Trumpian moment?
I certainly never voted for McCain, nor ever would. Except in retrospect—Vietnam, Iraq—the man seemed never to see a war he didn’t like. Maybe he was half-joking when went around singing “Bomb, bomb, Iran” to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann.” But only half.
McCain could also be something of a showman. His dramatic vote to save Obamacare rescued health insurance coverage for millions, and he milked the moment for everything that was in it.
Most of the time, however, he was a reliably partisan Republican, voting enthusiastically for the very Supreme Court justices whose Citizens United verdict dismantled McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms and handed the U.S. government over to the highest bidder.
Sen. McCain was a real piece of work: passionate, morally and physically brave. He laughed, and made others laugh, more than anybody in Washington. Some of his jokes could be pointed. In a 2008 presidential debate with Barack Obama, he made a sly reference to President George W. Bush’s naïve remark about seeing Vladimir Putin’s soul: “I looked in Mr. Putin’s eyes and I saw three letters—a K, a G and B.”
His pointed rebuke of attempts to race-bait Obama or to participate in the shameful “Birther” smear that Trump subsequently embraced may have cost him his shot at the presidency. McCain preferred to keep his honor.
For all of that, sometimes the nation needs a warrior, and McCain was definitely that. The Washington Post’s conservative columnist Max Boot got it exactly right: “Trump hated McCain and insulted him at every turn because McCain was everything Trump is not—and everything that we need in our politics today but tragically lack.”
Even so, if you keep your eyes open, you can see that American ideals of duty and honor haven’t succumbed to partisan rancor everywhere. Consider Paula Duncan, an outspoken Trump supporter and juror in the Paul Manafort trial who explained to Fox News that despite her suspicion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s motives, the evidence against Donald Trump’s former campaign manager was “overwhelming.” 
“Finding Mr. Manafort guilty was hard for me…I really wanted him to be innocent, but he wasn’t,” she explained. Duncan wants people to understand that it wasn’t even a close call. But for one flaky juror, Manafort would have been convicted on all 18 counts of tax evasion and bank fraud.
Duncan did her civic duty proudly, driving to the courthouse every day in her “Make American Great Again” ball cap, although she now wishes Trump would change the slogan to “Make America Kind Again.”
Fat chance of that.
Paula Duncan is a great American all the same.


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Eric Holder

The failure of major federal voting rights legislation in the Senate has left civil rights advocates saying they are determined to keep fighting—including by suing in battleground states. But the little bipartisan consensus that exists on election reform would, at best, lead to much narrower legislation that is unlikely to address state-level GOP efforts now targeting Democratic blocs.

“This is the loss of a battle, but it is not necessarily the loss of a war, and this war will go on,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and Democrat, told MSNBC, saying that he and the Democratic Party will be suing in states where state constitutions protect voting rights. “This fight for voting rights and voter protection and for our democracy will continue.”

“The stakes are too important to give up now,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has operated an Election Day hotline to help people vote. “Our country cannot claim to be free while allowing states to legislate away that freedom at will.”

In recent weeks, as it became clear that the Senate was not going to change its rules to allow the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to pass with a simple majority, there have been efforts by some lawmakers, election policy experts, and civil rights advocates to identify what election reforms could pass the Senate.

“There are several areas… where I think there could be bipartisan consensus,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a briefing on January 20. “These areas are all around those guardrails of democracy. They are all about ensuring that however the voters speak that their voice is heard… and cannot be subverted by anyone in the post-election process.”

Becker cited updating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which addressed the process where state-based slates of presidential electors are accepted by Congress. (In recent weeks, new evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump’s supporters tried to present Congress with forged certificates as part of an effort to disrupt ratifying the results on January 6, 2021.) Updating that law could also include clarifying which state officials have final authority in elections and setting out clear timetables for challenging election results in federal court after Election Day.

Five centrist Washington-based think tanks issued a report on January 20, Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform, which suggested federal legislation could codify practices now used by nearly three-quarters of the states. Those include requiring voters to present ID, offering at least a week of early voting, allowing all voters to request a mailed-out ballot, and allowing states to start processing returned absentee ballots a week before Election Day.

But the report, which heavily drew on a task force of 29 state and local election officials from 20 states convened by Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center, was notable in what it did not include, such as restoring the major enforcement section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was removed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. It did not mention the Electoral Count Act nor growing threats to election officials from Trump supporters.

“This won’t satisfy all supporters of the Freedom to Vote Act, but this is a plausible & serious package of reforms to make elections more accessible and secure that could attract bipartisan support,” tweeted Charles Stewart III, a political scientist and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. “A good starting point.”

The reason the centrist recommendations won’t satisfy civil rights advocates is that many of the most troubling developments since the 2020 election would likely remain.

Targeting Battleground States

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Former president Donald Trump

By Rami Ayyub and Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) -The prosecutor for Georgia's biggest county on Thursday requested a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid her investigation into then-President Donald Trump's efforts to influence the U.S. state's 2020 election results.

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