Republicans are crawling out of the woodwork to praise civil rights icon John Lewis after he passed away on Friday at the age of 80, but many of these same GOP leaders are currently standing in the way of restoring voting rights.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is one of those Republicans who released a statement about Lewis, even as a bill to restore the Voting Rights Act remains on his desk.
The Senate and the nation mourn the loss of Congressman John Lewis, a pioneering civil rights leader who put his life on the line to fight racism, promote equal rights, and bring our nation into greater alignment with its founding principles. https://t.co/cRBl30fwtA
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) July 18, 2020
MSNBC’s Joy Reid went after Republicans like McConnell for offering empty praise of Lewis.
“For those who are praising John Lewis and standing in the way of restoring [the Voting Rights Act] think about that, his blood paid for it,” Reid said. “If you want to honor him, there’s a pretty direct way for you to do that rather than give out a statement.”
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) July 18, 2020
It’s so important to remember that history. There were four attempts to pass a voting rights act, to allow black Americans to vote: 1866, 1957, 1964. It was John Lewis’ beating on that bridge, along with those other brave young people, college students, just above college students, 20-year-olds, who bled on that bridge. John Lewis’ blood paid for that 1965 Voting Rights Act. So for those who are praising John Lewis and standing in the way of restoring that act, think about that, his blood paid for it. So if you want to honor him, there’s a pretty direct way for you to do that rather than give out a statement, FYI. Just a thought.
Time for Republicans to put their money where their mouth is
It’s great that some Republicans are briefly setting aside politics to acknowledge the passing of a civil rights giant, but it’s nowhere near enough. Not even close.
As PoliticusUSA’s Sarah Jones noted, Republicans must put their money where their mouth is if they truly want to honor John Lewis.
Republicans claiming John Lewis today, put your money where your mouth is:
Restore & strengthen VRA
Stop justifying murder of innocent black ppl
Stop winking at neo Nazi, white supremacist ideas
Stop egging on Putinesque attacks on protesters.
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) July 18, 2020
As simple as these steps may seem, they’ve become political suicide for a Republican Party that has been hijacked by Donald Trump, a man whose presidency is built almost exclusively on race baiting and minority resentment.
Hollow press releases and symbolic gestures are the only thing we’re likely to get from the modern GOP.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.