3 of Biggest Issues Conservatives Face in 2022

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We’re just one week into 2022 and already political debates are heating up in Washington over election integrity, the Senate filibuster, and spending, among other things.

It’s clear that 2022 will be a significant year in the fight for American liberty. Jessica Anderson, Heritage Action for America executive director, says conservatives will face at least three major battles in the year ahead. (Heritage Action is the grassroots partner organization of The Heritage Foundation, of which The Daily Signal is the news outlet.)

“The fight to protect the sanctity of life, I think, is going to be in the forefront of so many voters’ minds, really, throughout the year,” Anderson says. 

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will determine not only whether or not Roe v. Wade is overturned, but also affect the lives of millions of unborn babies. 

In addition to the issue of abortion, Anderson says, election integrity and President Joe Biden’s liberal agenda more broadly are significant issues to follow in 2022. 

Also on today’s show: 

  • Both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris deliver speeches about the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. 
  • Former President Donald Trump says Biden used his speech about Jan. 6 to distract from his failings as president.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis takes action to limit America’s dependence on China.

Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:

Virginia Allen: We are just about a week into 2022, and already there are major debates happening in Washington, D.C., over election integrity, the filibuster, spending, and so much more. Many of us are asking the question of, what are those big issues for 2022 that we, as conservatives, need to be focused on, need to be worried about, and need to be preparing to fight on?

Well, here with us to answer those questions is Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America. Jessica, welcome back to the show.

Jessica Anderson: Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.

Allen: Yeah, it’s wonderful to be kicking off the year with you and talking about, OK, what are these big fights ahead? We spoke a little bit before the show and you say there’s really three major things that come to mind right away.

One, of course, is, broadly speaking, the Biden agenda. We need to know where the Biden administration is heading and what those implications are for all of us, as Americans. That’s a big category, but then, of course, we also have the issue of election integrity, specifically at the state level, and abortion, something that’s so close to the hearts of so many conservatives.

I want to work backward here and start by talking about the issue of abortion. Just in December, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the Dobbs [v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization] case that could overturn Roe v. Wade. Where do things stand right now? What can we expect as we look to 2022 and what is coming down the line on the issue of abortion?

Anderson: The fight to protect the sanctity of life, I think, is going to be forefront of so many voters’ minds really throughout the year.

Right now the Supreme Court is still considering. We’ve had the oral arguments from the Dobbs case, that was the first week of December. That followed the Texas heartbeat Supreme Court case as well, which the Supreme Court heard oral arguments from.

Both of those cases ended at the front of the Supreme Court’s minds as we concluded 2021. And then now, when we expect decisions to be passed down later this spring, I think we’ll have some clarity on where the court is going to come down on the sanctity of life and on some of the main principles around Roe v. Wade.

What’s interesting to watch, though, is that some states are already anticipating that the court rules to essentially overturn the main principle of Roe. If that were to happen, basically the entire decision around how abortions are regulated will be passed down for states to decide.

It’s not that abortion then becomes illegal, it then becomes something that states have to weigh in on and regulate or not regulate within their own state. Some states are getting ahead of that.

I think as we watch the legislative sessions open across the country, as general assemblies and legislatures come back into session this January, some at the beginning of February, this is going to be something that they tackle.

How they choose to tackle it will also be interesting. Do they do things like the 24-hour waiting period? Do they do a heartbeat bill? Do they do fetal pain? There are so many different ways to back into this issue from a legislative standpoint. It’s really going to be up for these state legislative leaders and these lawmakers to decide what sort of policy they’re going to put forward.

I would keep an eye on that, I think certainly as these sessions kick back off here at the end of January, and some have already begun as of this next week on Monday.

Allen: Yeah. I think that’s really, really important to explain because we sometimes hear from the left this language of, OK, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, it’s just the end of the world for them and there’s no abortions going to be allowed anywhere in America, and that’s not accurate.

What you just explained, it returns back to the states and then it’s in the hands of states to make the policy decisions that they want to around abortion.

We’ve already seen with states like California coming out really aggressively, saying almost like, “We’re going to be this abortion safe haven.” Of course, that opens a whole other debate and shifts the focus of the pro-life movement. It’s really important that we draw the distinctions and parse that out clearly.

Anderson: Yeah, and I think there’s a lot of goodness in states taking the reins on this issue. I mean, look what Texas was able to do with the heartbeat bill. The longer that that law stands, the more babies are being saved on a day-to-day basis.

Whether or not it fails in the courts or not, I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t know what’s going to happen, and we certainly don’t know the full conclusion of that yet, but what we do know is, for as long as it stands, more babies are being saved. That’s something that Texas did not even 60 days ago.

Allen: We’re celebrating, it’s been so exciting to see so many states saying, “Nope, we’re going to protect life.” It’s so, so good.

And of course, another big state issue is that of election integrity. We’re seeing a lot of debates already so far, just in the first week of this year, around that idea, that concept. Your argument is we really need to be focused on this at the state level. Why? Explain why this is such an important issue.

Anderson: Election integrity and the desire to return trust, sanctity, support, security, fairness, all of that transparency back to the ballot box is really top of mind for so many Americans. I mean, we see this in the grassroots, our Sentinels bring it up day in and day out. They’re asking us, what are we doing to secure the vote?

There’s two ways to look at this, one on the federal side. The Democrat leadership, [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, [President] Joe Biden, [Vice President] Kamala Harris, they have made crystal clear that their No. 1 priority at the beginning of 2021 was to pass a federal overhaul, a federal overtake of our election systems through their No. 1 legislative bill, HR 1/S 1, which is titled We the People.

We have retitled that. It is not “We the People,” it’s “For the Corrupt Politicians Act,” because it basically ushers in an entire wave of liberal and Democrat victories for decades to come because of how the entire election system would be overhauled.

Then it goes after things like commonsense, a very commonsense policy like voter ID, over 85% of Americans support it. It would completely shed it and get rid of it, even if states had passed their own voter ID laws. It’s an overhaul, it’s a complete override.

The federal way to look at this is simply to say, “We need to block the federal overreach of our election systems.”

Now, conservative activists and those conservative senators and members of the House that were so active about this issue all through 2021 did a fabulous job keeping the GOP conference together, keeping conservatives in lockstep. The grassroots made it clear that they didn’t want to see HR 1 move.

Throughout the year, as different elements of the bill—first it was HR 1, then HR 4, and then now it’s kind of a version of the two with a [Sen. Joe] Manchin compromise, in that he compromised with himself, all of those different iterations failed. They were not able to get through the Senate, they were not able to push through and nuke the filibuster.

As we start 2022, we’ve already seen in the first eight days of the year a huge rush of energy from the left to return to that road map to nuke the filibuster and pass this federal overreach. I think our goal, as conservatives, remains the same as it was last year, which is to block that bill.

Then the second way to look at the issue of election integrity is at the state level. There are so many incredibly important reforms that are needed to secure elections through states. State legislators like [in] Florida, like Georgia, like Texas, Arizona, Iowa, so many of them stepped up to the plate this last year and put forward reform packages that really did two things.

They wanted to make it easy for legitimate voters to vote and hard for cheaters to cheat. “Easy to vote, hard to cheat,” that was the mantra. The reforms that we saw move through were everything from voter ID to securing absentee ballots, to limiting the number of days around early voting, to making sure voter rolls are updated and clean, so if someone passed away that they’re not being carried on a voter roll for year after year after year, which just asks for more fraud.

This issue is so important because it’s just been completely ingrained in our psyche as American citizens, because the ability to vote is the bedrock of our republic, it’s the bedrock of American democracy. When that feels threatened or it’s not protected and secure or transparent, that’s really where you see freedom-loving grassroots Americans come out and really demand something different from their state lawmakers.

I would pay attention to states like Georgia and Florida that are going to go deeper on election reform bills this next legislative session, and I would look for new states, like South Carolina and Tennessee, to get into the mix, to put these reform bills through.

We’ve put together a whole list that’s based on The Heritage Foundation’s research from the Meese Center that outlines what these reforms can be. You can find all this at saveourelections.com. Then it integrates back with this great new product that Heritage just came out with called the Election Integrity Scorecard, which goes through and shows where states need to make changes.

Then there’s actual model legislation that they can download that is a great starting point that lawmakers can use, can build off of to make sure that their state is in the best shape possible heading into 2022.

The two goals: block the federal overreach, continue to tackle state-based reforms. That will be front of mind for, frankly, all of us as conservatives throughout the year of 2022.

Allen: Yeah, yeah. We’re already seeing movement, as you mentioned, from states like South Carolina that are saying, “OK, we want to adopt some of these policies, like Georgia has done, to make sure that our elections are safer.” That’s a really good sign, that’s encouraging.

Anderson: Yes, yeah, be on the lookout. I think there’s such an interesting phenomenon going on right now as more and more activists realize how much power state governments have. It’s like during the lockdowns, right?

Allen: COVID showed us all that, how much power the states have.

Anderson: Exactly. We looked around and we said, “Who’s locking us down? Who’s closing my business, shutting down my school?” Well, it’s state governments.

For the first time, in a very, very long time, as activists, we realized, OK, we have to have relationships with our state lawmakers, with our governors. We have to know who these guys are and be able to call them and petition our grievances, just in the way we would with a federal member of Congress.

I think that’s why you’re starting to see some of this shift, where activists are being able to do both at the same time, still work on federal accountability, work with their members of Congress, of course, their senators, but then also build those deep relationships with state lawmakers.

Allen: Yeah. That’s going to be interesting this year to watch that continue to play out, because you’re right, it’s so important.

Now, you mentioned the filibuster. Of course, this flows right into the Biden administration’s larger agenda for 2022. There’s a big debate right now over the filibuster. We heard about it quite a bit last year. Obviously, it’s not gone away and it’s right in line with all this conversation about election integrity and the federal takeover of elections.

Parse this out a little bit more for us. Where do you think we stand right now? The filibuster simply means that for the majority of a piece of legislation in the Senate, they require 60 votes.

There’s a part of me that has to just step back and laugh a little bit in this conversation because I’m almost like, well, doesn’t the left realize that if they do away with the filibuster that then if conservatives again control the Senate, well, that’s not going to go in their favor? It seems obvious, but somehow they don’t seem to be picking up on that.

Anderson: Well, it’s a two-step power grab is basically the best way to think about it.

First, they want to completely shut down and erode a 200-plus-year rule that has governed the Senate. It’s been the cooling kettle for policies that are coming over from the House. It’s allowed the voice of the moderate to be heard, it’s allowed the voice of the minority to be heard and to be protected. It’s ensured that the country doesn’t yo-yo back from one position to another as power changes.

The filibuster is so much more than just an ageless Senate procedure. It’s really become part of our vernacular because of what it protects and because of what it means.

As the liberal elites want to squash that and they want to nuke it, that then ushers in their second step for power, which is to go back, because nuking the filibuster is the only way they will be able to pass HR 1/S 1, the federal overtake of our elections. They know that they can’t get that bill through without nuking the filibuster.

It’s not just the procedure that we’re talking about, it’s what that procedure then opens up the door for. First would be HR 1, and then everything that follows is a complete laundry list of the left’s wish list for the last two to decades, everything from the Green New Deal to adding additional states, to adding additional Supreme Court justices. I mean, the list goes on.

When you look at this, you realize that this is a power grab and it’s meant to cement Democrat policy, legislative agenda, liberal reengineering of American society in the most aggressive way that we would’ve seen to date.

Now, thankfully, there’s two senators that have said “no,” that they’re not budging. That’s Sen. [Kyrsten] Sinema of Arizona and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, two senators we’ve heard a lot from and a lot about throughout 2021.

We’re going to continue to hear from them in ’22. Manchin is already making news. He’s put a stop to Biden’s Build Back Better, or “Build Back Broke” plan, as I like to call it. That’s that legislative agenda that we’ve been watching from the Biden administration. But he’s also said no to this, which is interesting.

Not to digress too much, but to get back to the earlier point about why do states matter, the left has tried to use the success of states in passing their election integrities. They’ve tried to reframe those successes to say, “No, those states are racist. They’re disenfranchising voters. This is white supremacy.”

Every single time that they’ve done that, they’ve tried to create this narrative to push back, to have a voting rights carve out for the filibuster, to say, “Look how crazy the states are. We need to deal with this federally. They can’t, we will.”

Every time they’ve done that though, they’ve failed. You even have The Washington Post coming out and giving Biden four Pinocchios for mischaracterizations of the Georgia election integrity bill.

I mean, it’s not for nothing that we are a year into this, they haven’t been successful in passing this because the American people recognize that these are not crazy bills, this is not extremism that’s going on in the states. These are good, wholesome reforms that we all want and they were bipartisan before everything became so partisan.

This is truly just a narrative. If they’re successful in doing it, and I don’t think that they will, but if they are successful in doing it, then the filibuster will be nuked and it will give the next 12 months, or however much longer there’s Democrat control of the Congress and the White House, it’ll give a complete wish list, the entrée to move through and to find its way to Biden’s desk.

Conservatives should stay diligent. We should continue to call and support Manchin and Sinema, urge them to say “no.”

Allen: What else is on that wish list? You mentioned a few things. I’m especially thinking about our economy. As a young person, I think, looking toward the future and with goals to buy a house one day, and my brother-in-law has his own business, and thinking about, OK, where do we stand right now as our country continues to recover from COVID and what are the implications if Biden has his way, as it relates to our economy?

Anderson: Yeah. The Biden economic domestic agenda puts Americans last. It just does. And it does it in every single aspect of public policy.

When you look at energy and increasing our energy dependence on other countries as opposed to American oil, when you look at how he’s dealt with the supply chain, when you look at how he’s dealt with health care and COVID readiness versus lockdowns and not getting enough testing or vaccines out to Americans that want them, I mean, it’s literally one thing after the other.

The hardest part about the Biden domestic agenda, in my mind, is that he doesn’t have a mandate to do this. He did not win in a landslide, he did not win with overwhelming support. It was a close election. And there’s no mandate for him to come in and to do this from the people. His only mandate should be, “Am I giving more freedom or less freedom to the American people?” I would argue he needs to be giving more freedom.

There’s a lot that’s at stake. Thankfully, the Build Back Better plan, which housed a lot of the more egregious policies, is stalled right now. Whether or not they are able to chop the bill up and move different parts of it, we don’t know yet. That will really depend on how negotiations go in the next 10 to 15 days.

Congresswoman [Pramila] Jayapal, who is the head of the Progressive Caucus, was calling that Biden slice and dice and start doing some things with the executive order. Well, we know how that will end. It won’t end well, because much of that is unconstitutional to do. They may not go that route, but I think you’re going to see a lot of pressure from progressives to do it like that.

Then regardless, Manchin will have the pen on pulling bits and pieces of the package and whether or not it’s in a Build Back Better skinny version or a light version, or is it the full behemoth of a bill that is what we saw at the end of 2021.

Allen: Yeah, because Manchin has really been the one putting the brakes on this.

Anderson: He said “no.”

Allen: Yeah.

Anderson: Yeah, he said “no” and they can’t pass it without him.

Allen: Yeah, yeah. Wow, a lot rides on him. Wild times in America.

Anderson: We’re all moving to West Virginia so we can be West Virginia activists.

Allen: There you go. Well, Jessica, what else? What are other things that we need to be aware of, as conservatives, and thinking about and tracking in 2022?

Anderson: Well, I’d be remiss if we didn’t at least acknowledge that we have a huge midterm election that’s coming up.

This is a great time for people to get involved as a volunteer. You can be a poll worker, can be a poll watcher. You can serve to get out the vote, going door to door, volunteering to talk in your community about these policy issues, making sure people are registered to vote, making sure you yourself are registered to vote.

I mean, so many people moved because of COVID to either more free red states or they just picked up and moved back home with their families, or college students that were in school but now they’re remote from home. I mean, the abundance of needs for voter registration couldn’t be more obvious going into ’22.

Make sure you have a plan to vote, make sure you’re registered, talk to your friends and family, do your American civic duty. Certainly a lot going into 2022 in November and the midterms. Keep an eye on that and figure out how you can get plugged in and how you can get involved.

Then I think there’s going to be a lot of fits and starts throughout the year when it comes to, is there an additional recovery package? What do they do with additional appropriations, with defense spending? All of that regular order of business in a legislative calendar. We will want to stay on top of that. Conservative activists will engage directly with it as those things become more clear.

But you’ve nailed it, the three big pillars are this legislative agenda that Biden is trying to push through the Congress now, what happens post-Dobbs and what that influence and impact is on Roe v. Wade, and then protecting the filibuster and the fight for election integrity as it spreads to the state and federal levels.

Allen: Yeah, yeah. Jessica, you are the executive director of Heritage Action for America. For those that are not familiar with the awesome work that you guys do, share with us just briefly what you-all do and how individuals can get involved. I know you have a grassroots army out there and you-all are always looking for more people to join that army.

Anderson: We need the help. You’ll never be turned away or not given plenty of work to do, that’s for sure.

Heritage Action is a network of 2 million grassroots activists, coast to coast. We have over a hundred activists in every congressional district and we engage directly with lawmakers, both at the state level and the federal level, to ensure that they know what the conservative public policy position is on any given issue.

People get involved in everything from volunteering with the Election Day operations, as poll workers and watchers, to giving public testimony at committee hearings at the state level, working on coalition letters, engaging on social media, letters to the editor.

Really, however much time you have and ability you have, we will put you to work. We have eight field offices across the country, four more that are rolling out this next year, so there’s a role for everybody.

The time to be an activist, there couldn’t be warmer waters, let’s say it like that. We’d love to have you and you can find out more at heritageaction.com.

Allen: Awesome. Jessica, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it.

Anderson: Thanks for having me.

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