“If we truly believe in a vibrant Democracy, then we must have the highest voter turnout in the world.” – US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
For over a week now I’ve been stewing on the voter suppression effort currently underway in Georgia. If you haven’t been following it, last Thursday Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) signed sweeping election law changes that make it harder for targeted groups to vote while also giving officials the ability to potentially change the outcome of elections if they don’t like the results. You can read more about the changes here, and please do, but that isn’t the point of my blog today.
As always, let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Georgia played the role of unlikely hero in the 2020 election, not only helping President Joe Biden defeat Donald Trump in the presidential race, but also swinging control of the US Senate with two Democratic candidates, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, defeating incumbent Republicans. I didn’t know anything about Warnock and Ossoff, not being from Georgia, but I do know that the incumbents must have done something really bad to lose their seats to Democrats in the Deep South.
Trump famously called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and asked him to overturn the results of the election, a conversation the latter recorded and then made public. Raffensperger and Fulton County prosecutors subsequently opened up a criminal investigation into the Trump campaign’s efforts to illegally influence the election, an investigation which is ongoing as of this writing.
What are we to make of this? The spin machine is in full cycle, with Republicans claiming various things up to and including it was voter fraud that turned Georgia blue. There is, to date, zero evidence of this. Democrats are calling the new election law something akin to “modern Jim Crow,” with minorities unfairly targeted by the legislation. Neither of these arguments are of concern to my own interior monlogue.
Are we, as a country, really going to start letting elected officials decide whether or not they like the way voters voted and give them the power to influence/change the outcome if they don’t? Granted, I just finished rereading George Orwell’s 1984, but this sounds an awful lot like the Ministry of Truth, where reality is created by those in charge and anyone who protests is tortured and killed. Americans already have very few choices when it comes to Presidential elections. Two corporate clones are typically rolled out and we choose the one whose rhetoric most closely aligns with our worldviews, or we vote against the one whose rhetoric is so objectionable that we can’t stand the thought of listening to that person for four (more) years. It’s rare, indeed, when we get a candidate we actually believe in, and even when we do the System makes sure that candidate doesn’t change too much.
Yes, I know there are third party candidates and I have friends who are vehemently in favor of voting Green or whatever. Sounds great, but it’s a little bit like wearing a Sacramento Kings t-shirt to an NBA Finals game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets. You think you’re making a point, but the NBA could care less. They’re cashing in on their biggest stars. It’s a business, after all, and so is government. You still bought a ticket.
Full disclosure, I’m a middle-aged white male. I was born in Spain, but only because my dad was in the US Air Force and we were stationed in Madrid. There is absolutely no one trying to limit MY vote. Quite the opposite. There is an early voting location within 5 minutes of my house – I usually do it in the middle of the day on a week day, as the lines are shortest when the typical middle class person is at work. I’m never harassed in line, no one tries to keep me from voting – piece of cake. I even bring my own bottle of water, you know, in case it becomes illegal for someone to offer me one.
I’m definitely not trying to “make America great again,” because I think the only time it was truly great was before we kicked the indigenous people off of their lands. They were living sustainably, giving off pretty much zero carbon, and respected the world that made their lives possible. Sounds pretty great to me! But I do long for the ideals upon which America was founded. Let’s get together as human beings, talk about potential solutions to our mutual problems, and work together to implement those solutions. Our politicians should run for office because they are passionate and want to help their communities and our country. They should have big ideas and plans to carry out those ideas. They should present them during a SHORT, publicly funded campaign, try to convince the most folks, and hey, best ideas win.
At no time should anyone be trying to prevent American citizens from voting, and look it up, election fraud is nothing more than a scare tactic. Even as Donald Trump screamed that the election was stolen from him, his own Department of Homeland Security called the 2020 election the most secure in our history. Naturally, he fired Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, for making that statement, but that doesn’t change the reality of the outcome. And no, illegal immigrants didn’t sway the outcome of the election – again, that’s just sour grapes from the losing side.
Look, we can secure our banking systems, why can’t we similarly secure our voting through an online process? We don’t need the electoral college, we don’t need mail-in ballots, and there is absolutely no reason for long lines in a limited number of voting venues. Let’s allow as many people as possible to vote, perhaps logging in with a valid state ID, even make Election Day a national holiday and see who wins.
The idea that the response to losing an election is for your party to try and limit/restrict/suppress the people who voted against you is simply ludicrous. If your party is that unpopular, it’s easy enough to fix it. Listen to your constituents and work towards solutions to the issues they care about.
Isn’t that the American way?