If Liberty was a little girl, watching all the flags unfurl, standing at the big parade, how would she like us now? America, America, where have we gone? – Neil Young
Written for another time, these lyrics are frighteningly, and sadly, true today.
In the ying-yang world of politics, there are always negatives that accompany positive change. My previous commentary focused on the new Biden administration, a turn to more progressive, honest and responsible governance, a new hope to right the wrongs of the prior administration and to address the challenges of the nation. The Republican response to this positive change is ominously dark and troubling. Now is a good time to re-engage with American democracy to assure it delivers on its promise of liberty and justice for all.
The freedom to vote for all Americans is now under sustained attack on multiple fronts. Republican lawmakers seek to disenfranchise millions of Americans by making it harder to vote. Nancy MacLean’s book Democracy in Chains uncovers a detailed, secret, multi-decade program that is well funded by wealthy conservative business interests which seeks “removal of the sacrosanct status assigned to majority rule”.
A program that seeks “removal of the sacrosanct status assigned to majority rule.”
How does that sound to you?
Recent reporting discloses a confidential communication between the research director of the Koch Brothers funded Stand Together conservative advocacy group, Kyle McKenzie, and Senator McConnell’s staff saying “opponents (of the For The People Act) would likely have to rely on Republican Senators, where the bill is now under debate, to use what they called ‘under the dome’ strategies — legislative maneuvers such as the filibuster — to stop the bill, because turning public opinion against it would be incredibly difficult”.
What do progressives think?
“Whatever our color, background or zip code, most of us believe that voters pick our leaders — our leaders do not get to pick their voters. When it comes to our elections, we want a transparent process we can trust, where Americans have equal freedom to vote, whether we live in a small town or big city, the south or the north. But today, a handful of extremist politicians put up barriers to silence our voices based on what we look like or where we live. It’s time for national standards for voting so all of us have a say in key decisions like affordable care, quality jobs and a healthy future. Together, we can ensure Americans can safely and freely cast our ballots so that every voice is heard and our elections reflect the will of the people.” – Democracy Rising
There is a shared responsibility here. Our democracy is OUR democracy. We The People means you and me. Today is a good day to consider not only why, but how you will care for the democracy that sustains us.
Take the first step today. Call Senator Murray (202-224-2621) and Senator Cantwell (202-224-3441) and tell them you want to hear their timeline to end or revise the Senate filibuster rule to allow a simple majority to pass important national standards for voter freedom. Senate bill S.1, the For The People Act, provides access to the ballot box that Republican legislators are trying to constrain in nearly every state in the union. S.1 will also constrain partisan gerrymandering, which currently allows leaders to pick their voters in too many parts of the country.
Let your Senators know you want to hear WHEN they will take this action. Remind them that their own Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has publicly stated this action needs to happen by this July to protect elections this November. Ask them if they are planning to support the Senate leaders’ schedule and if they will do so in public.
Go ahead – the phone is right there next to you. Give them a call right now.
The next step will take a little more time, but it’s worth it. Write a letter to The Beachcomber editor to express why the freedom to vote and access to the polls is important to you. Let’s share our opinions here, in this paper, to assure American democracy will be accessible to all Americans.
Most importantly, join those who will visit Senators’ offices during the week of July 5 to show support for our freedom to vote. To stay informed, go to indivisiblevashon.org and enter your email address to receive our weekly newsletter.
Let’s make that little girl Liberty proud that we, today, are taking a stand to protect and preserve American democracy.
Kevin Jones is a member of Indivisible Vashon. Join him at indivisiblevashon.org to take action for democracy.