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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

As quickly as Cardi B’s Instagram address about the government shutdown went viral, the 26-year-old rapper became the latest target for right-wing conservatives to harass online

“All these conservatives been harassing me and telling me the most disgusting things these past few days,” Cardi B tweeted on Jan. 22. “Listen I’m not telling ya to turn liberal all I’m saying is to admit that your president is fuckin up this country right now! Liberal or conservative we ALL suffer as citizens.”

The collective intimidation from the right culminated after conservative commentator Tomi Lahren mocked Cardi B’s political commentary, which was a much needed reality check on the government shutdown. (“Our country is in a hellhole right now,” Cardi B said, “all for a fucking wall.”)

“Looks like @iamcardib is the latest genius political mind to endorse the Democrats. HA! Keep it up, guys! #MAGA2020,” Lahren tweeted.

Cardi B replied, advising Lahren to leave her alone or she would “dog walk” her.

“I’m sure you would,” Lahren said. “Still doesn’t make your political rambling any less moronic.#BuildthatWall.”

Cardi B ended the public exchange, telling Lahren she is “so blinded with racism that you don’t even realize the decisions the president you root for is destroying the country you claim to love so much.”

And it didn’t stop there. Lahren made her media rounds, going on “Fox & Friends” to talk about how the hip hop star threatened physical violence on her (for the record, one definition on Urban Dictionary defines “dog walking” as “total domination” in addition to beating someone’s ass, and it is unclear what exactly Cardi B. meant).

Since the Twitter conversation, many media outlets have reported on a “feud” between the two, using a tired playbook: pitting two women against each other and sensationalizing the exchange, which only fuels it in the end. There is no doubt that the two engaged in a public conflict, but what many reports on the matter failed to contextualize the pattern their exchange falls into: When a woman — particularly a woman of color — speaks out about politics, and the public listens, the far right immediately tries to silence her through harassment.

We’ve seen it happen with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has become somewhat of an obsession with many Republicans. Ditto Rep. Maxine Waters. Donald Trump flat out called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman.” Stormy Daniels has been degraded by many simply because of her profession as a sex worker, too. The attempts to marginalize these accomplished women through harassment have sexist, and in applicable cases racist, overtones.

Donald Trump’s presidency has inspired rage in progressive women, which they’ve turned into action. Since a record-breaking number of women were sworn into the House and Senate this year, many breaking barriers for religion and race, it is likely that women feeling inspired and empowered will continue to become more involved in politics, too. The center of the patriarchy is becoming increasingly unstable as it breaks down and is being reformed with more diverse leadership, and perhaps that is why popular opinions from women like Cardi B are so threatening to right-wing pundits. Or maybe it is simply her refusal to be silenced.

Politics and theories aside, Cardi B deserves respect and to be listened to. Political commentary is not reserved to those who work in politics — and anyway, even being elected to Congress won’t spare an outspoken progressive woman. Hip hop artists have a long history of political speech, of pushing for change by making music about injustice, racism, poverty and class struggles. Social media has only given many of these artists an even more open platform to make this kind of commentary more frequently and outside of the recording studio or concert stage. As Cardi B explained in a GQ interview, politics have always been of interest to her: “I love government. I’m obsessed with presidents. I’m obsessed to know how the system works.” And as many signs at the Women’s March last weekend indicated, her video about the government shutdown resonated with many followers.

In a true democratic society, anyone should be able to share their political opinions without being berated by pundits tweeting disgusting things in response. However, as online harassment trends show, we still have a long way to go before that happens. Fortunately, that doesn’t appear to be stopping Cardi B, whose fierce resistance to being silenced will only inspire more women to speak up stand their ground too, even when the trolls roll in.

 

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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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