Georgia’s voting law, the Senate filibuster, and other top Opinion reads this week

In today’s fast-paced news environment, it can be hard to keep up. For your weekend reading, we’ve started in-case-you-missed-it compilations of some of the week’s top USA TODAY Opinion pieces. As always, thanks for reading, and for your feedback.

— USA TODAY Opinion editors

1. Yo-Yo Ma talks COVID, hope and anti-Asian hate: ‘Why is anybody surprised?’

By Jill Lawrence

“Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, winner of 18 Grammy Awards, recently made news with an impromptu performance at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he is a part-time resident. In a March 31 conversation with USA TODAY commentary editor Jill Lawrence, he talked about the role of musicians in a pandemic and how he has shared his own music with patients, families and essential workers in need of comfort. He also shared his determination to stay positive, try to make a difference and approach life with the openness of a ‘beginner’s mind.'”

2. Don’t forgive $50,000 in student loan debt. It’s bad for Joe Biden, Democrats and America.

By Tom Nichols

“But the debate over loan forgiveness is now driven by emotion rather than reason. For its proponents, it is a humanitarian act to help people who were, apparently, hoodwinked into taking out loans to go to college and only miserable tightwads would reject it. For opponents, it is another example of decadent Americans wanting taxpayer bailouts for their personal choices, a liberal boomer gift to their own grandchildren that no one will ever see again.”

3. Derek Chauvin trial brings fresh pain to Eric Garner’s mother

By Suzette Hackney

“‘I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.’ Those words have haunted Gwen Carr since 2014, when her son Eric Garner died as a police officer attempted to arrest him in New York. More than 1,200 miles away and almost seven years later, George Floyd would repeatedly utter the same cries nearly 30 times. ‘I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.’ As testimony in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kicked off this week, Carr, 71, traveled to Minneapolis from New York to support Floyd’s family. In a flash, the memories, the heartache, the grief and the anger all came flooding back.”

4. Trump might have ‘found’ the votes he needed to win Georgia under state’s new election law

By Tom Krattenmaker

“Thanks to a somewhat overlooked provision in Georgia’s new restrictive voting law and similar measures being pushed in more than a half-dozen other GOP-controlled legislatures, the skids are becoming better greased for Trump-style election tampering in the future. These attempts to subvert the will of voters must be stopped.”

Infrastructure Block (Photo: Steve Sack/The Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

5.  As an Asian American, I don’t look like the country music artists I love

By Josephine Chu

“One of the hardest things to do is to acknowledge that the thing you love isn’t just imperfect — it’s flawed. For me, that thing is country music. I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember. There’s nothing better than the sweet sound of a steel guitar, and as a journalist, I’ve always been drawn to the music’s way with words. Storytelling is baked into the heart of country music, and I would argue that no other genre does it better. Unguarded and unapologetic, country music wears its heart on its well-worn flannel sleeve.” 

6. Chauvin trial: Blue wall of silence crumbling. Police chief, others, bring landmark moment.

By Carmen Perez

“The most recent days of the Derek Chauvin trial have shown this country, and specifically Black America, something most never thought they’d see: that the blue wall of silence can, indeed, crumble. This week, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, a lifelong veteran of the department and the city’s first Black police chief, testified that Chauvin’s actions in the killing of unarmed Black man George Floyd violated police training and ethics.”

7. No, Georgia’s new election law is not Jim Crow on steroids: 3 reasons it isn’t a big deal

By David Mastio

“President Joe Biden has called Georgia’s new election law ‘Jim Crow on steroids.’ Major League Baseball has withdrawn the All-Star Game from Atlanta in retaliation for the law.  And The Washington Post and The New York Times allege the law is the first step in a Republican plot to suppress Black votes nationwide. That all sounds horrible, but here are three reasons you should relax.”

Baseball and Politics (Photo: Dick Wright/

8.  California recall effort could end Newsom’s career or make him a Democratic hero

By Joshua Spivak

“California Gov. Gavin Newsom is likely to face a recall election this year, putting him into a uniquely high-risk, high-reward situation. He would be only the fourth governor tested by a recall vote in U.S. history, and it would come just as he’d normally be gearing up for a reelection campaign.” 

9. I’m finally done with the Senate filibuster. We’re running out of time to save democracy.

By Noah Bookbinder

“Now, the combination of systematic disenfranchisement of Black and brown voters, aggressive use of gerrymandering, and a system of unchecked money in political campaigns could allow a minority of voters to ensure that those who supported Trump’s abuses are ushered into control of Congress and the presidency; once in power, they have already shown their willingness to use it to further degrade checks and balances for their own advancement. The democracy as we know it might begin to crumble.”

Boycott Culture (Photo: Bob Englehart/

10. Nine ways to thwart the Georgia ‘voting rights’ boycott

By James S. Robbins

“The saddest response has been the call to boycott Georgia, a cancel-culture move that will harm everyday Georgians and have zero impact on the law or the upcoming elections. It is especially insensitive as Georgians struggle to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than tearing the Peach State down, people should be finding ways to make a positive difference. In that spirit, here are nine ways to thwart the boycott.”

11. Dr. Birx spoke out against Trump’s COVID response. Too bad she’s a year late.

By The Editorial Board

“The coordinator of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response made a shocking revelation during a recent CNN interview — many of the 550,000 Americans lives lost to the pandemic could have been saved with better leadership. In other words, managing the response to the pandemic under President Donald Trump — Dr. Deborah Birx’s responsibility — was a failure of historic proportions.”

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to

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