Three Simple Questions for Voters on Tuesday
In this midterm election, as you decide who to vote for or even whether to vote, I ask you to consider three questions.
Is This Who We Are as a People?
The first question is simple, is this who we are as a people? As you look at the past two years and your hopes for the two years ahead, is this the America you remember when you stood in grade school and pledged allegiance to the flag? Is this what you have taught your kids about what America stands for and why the world looks up to this nation?
Is America Safe for Democracy?
Sunday marks the centennial of the end of World War I in which over 321,000 Americans were killed or wounded in a campaign to make the world safe for democracy. Our unwavering faith in democracy has been at the core of who we are as a nation.
This was evident in 2006, as a Republican Congress working with Democrats almost unanimously approved an extension of the Voting Rights that includes special protections in states that have a history of voting rights abuses. In the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v Holder, the Supreme Court ignored the Congressional record that had been established showing the need for the extension and invalidated these special protections as unjustified.
States immediately began enacting a slew of laws designed to suppress minority vote with estimates that over 1 million votes were lost in 2016 as a result. This election is expected to be even worse with widespread purges of voter registration records, voter ID requirements targeted at youth and minority voters and a reduction in early voting days and locations.
The Republican Party that once overwhelmingly approved voting rights was now, after seeing how a huge black turnout helped elect President Obama, decidedly in the camp of voter suppression and gerrymandering. They will continue to do so since they only retain power by thwarting the will of the people.
To think that a century ago Americans were willing to endure chemical attacks and trench warfare in Europe to make the world safe for democracy, are you willing to take just a few minutes to help make it safe at home?
Is Hate an American Value?
The President has the power of the “bully pulpit” to set the tone for the nation for good or for bad, as he did when he said that there were “good people on both sides” following neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville or repeatedly declaring that a free press is the “enemy of the people”. Trump’s dog whistle politics also has led to a dramatic increase in hate crimes, with the ADL reporting a 57 percent increase last year alone – its biggest increase ever.
Sadly, the seeds of this hate bore fruit last month with the worst synagogue attack in American history, the murder of two African-Americans in Louisville and pipe-bomb attacks on journalist and Democrats.
Does the President speak for you when he promotes hate and division? If not, then you need to speak for yourself at the ballot box.
No doubt there are plenty of other issues that merit your attention this election (see Ten Factoids on Why You Should Vote), but these three questions are fundamental. Despite our different views on taxes, health care or gun control and other issues, these were the bonds that once united us all – and they can again if enough of us take a stand on Tuesday.