For those who didn’t know it, there’s an important election happening in just a few weeks. Actually, saying it’s an important election is a colossal understatement. In words echoed many times by the current president: It’s huge!
We’ve also heard over and over that elections have consequences. Another understatement if you ask me. What just occurred during the nominating process of a Supreme Court Justice underscores the need for people to get out and vote. If people had voted in 2016 at the levels they did during the 2008 election, Hillary Clinton would have been the one appointing justices. Of course, that’s not even a given when you consider that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had stated that he would have held seats open indefinitely if Hillary would have won the election.
So we know what we’re up against. We have a political party in power now … one that controls all three branches of government … that will stop at nothing to obstruct, obfuscate, delay, and cheat to gain and keep power.
We’ve seen it with the Neil Gorsuch confirmation, a confirmation that should have never occurred, but did so because Leader McConnell decided to ignore President Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland.
We’ve seen it with the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation, a process that saw a credible allegation of sexual assault improperly investigated and whitewashed by a White House that couldn’t wait to install their man.
While those two examples are troubling enough, news the past couple of days concerning voter suppression in the state of Georgia, as well as North Dakota shows us all just how far this party is willing to go to keep the reign of power firmly in their hands.
In Georgia, where Stacey Abrams is seeking to become the first African-American governor in American history, the Associated Press has reported that Secretary of State Brian Kemp is holding up over 53,000 voter registrations due to his so-called ”exact match” policy. The policy basically says that if there is a missing hyphen … an absent middle name … or other anomalies … the state may put a hold on the registration. The AP also reports that over 70% of those held registrations are African-Americans. Gee, I wonder why.
But even harder to believe is the fact that Kemp is the candidate running against Abrams. Yes, that’s right. The candidate running against Abrams, an African-American, is in charge of the voting rolls in the state of Georgia and is currently purging African-Americans from the rolls. You can’t make this stuff up.
And in North Dakota, the Supreme Court decided not to intervene in a voting rights case whereby a state ID law required a prospective voter to have an actual physical street address in order to register successfully. The problem with that law is that many Native Americans in North Dakota do not have a physical residential address. The result of this non-ruling may end up disenfranchising up to 70,000 Native American voters, many who disproportionately vote Democratic. Once again, I wonder why.
There are other examples of course. But the Republican Party has been doing this for some time now. It didn’t help of course that the Supreme Court pretty much gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013. The Act, which placed more stringent requirements on states that had a history of voting rights abuses, now has fewer teeth than it did before. And like clockwork, many began to exploit the ruling immediately.
Now that the court is firmly in conservative control for years to come, efforts to counteract these suppressive and restrictive actions have become so much more difficult. The only way to begin to change the trajectory is to turn out on November 6 … in massive numbers.
Even though they control the courts, all three branches of government, and most of the state houses … we cannot give up. By chipping away at these majorities and hopefully winning the presidency in 2020, Democrats can begin to forge a new way ahead. It’s a deep hole, but it’s one that must be closed.
Is an all-out attack on the voting rights of American citizens not an affront to our democracy? I would expect that reasonable people would have to agree. We can’t let a rogue political party continue to operate in this manner. There’s too much at stake. We need to make one thing perfectly clear to the American people: One party wants every eligible citizen to have the right to vote – the other party does not.
They like to talk about civility. I’m all for it … to an extent. These actions by this political party deserve an equal and even more determined response from the Democrats. I saw some fight by the Democrats during the confirmation process. It’s not enough. An overwhelming victory on November 6, 2018, will send a powerful message to the Republican Party: Your time is up, we’re taking back our democracy.