I waited until the evening before the election everyone is saying will be one of the most consequential of modern American history to weigh in on its import. What will America be like 48 hours from now? Will the country be able to carry on as usual or will it have the rumblings of chaos and fear that marked other periods in our history when white nativism and privilege decided to exert itself and turned America into a violent, bloody cauldron where citizens’ rights are abrogated.
When you think about the course of American history it really is time for that kind of turmoil. There have been almost 50 years of American calm where people used their voice in peaceful ways to influence American politics. This of course was after the Civil Rights movements of the 60s which were blood baths. That struggle for civil, human rights along with the dissent against the Vietnam war turned Americans against one another in ways that echoed the internecine strife of the Civil War. Some of the same dark forces that were at work then are present today sharing some of the same goals among them the denial of the right to vote for some in free and fair elections.
When the Biden administration took over government there were three issues it should have dealt with urgently. Arresting Covid and slowing down its death toll, reviving the American economy and installing voting rights legislation that would be able to meet and beat the Republican assault on democracy. Each one of those policy initiatives was vitally important to the longevity of the Republic and all three had to be in place at the same time in order for America to be better than before and more prosperous. Unfortunately only the first two were put in place and so we are now on election eve worrying about the consequences of this election because we have no guarantee all Americans will be able to participate freely and without intimidation in the electoral process.
Jan6 is full of stories of members of the military and law enforcement participating in the insurrection. That fact begs the question can we count on a united states to meet and defeat the violence which may result from a contentious election.
Why Biden didn’t more forcefully look for a way to codify voting rights might well be a question America will ask itself for many years to come. Voting rights and access will benefit all Americans just as covid relief and shoring up the American economy and the middle class. What hurts is the belief that it only benefits a certain segment of the population. That belief is probably shared across the political spectrum otherwise why wouldn’t it be more of a priority? We failed to be persuasive enough to make the case for the relevance, necessity for full fledged voting rights in today’s America and as a result we failed this country. We might have to pay a very big price for our failure.
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