Yes, systemic racism in America has some ugly heads that keep popping up like Whack a Mole. But these days the ugliest and most virulent head that not only affects people of color and differing religions but people in general is voter suppression–that weapon most loved by the Republican Party to help insure they win elections. It is a tactic that most erodes the foundations on which democracy is based. And they have a sympathetic supreme court to back their efforts. It’s a tactic that totalitarian dictatorships use to insure they stay in power indefinitely. The dictator wins with 99 percent of the vote and claims everything was fair and square. And if the dictator loses as in Myanmar recently or with Trump, he claims the election was rigged and tries to negate the results, sometimes succeeding as in Myanmar (so far) or not with Trump (although he threatens to raise his authoritarian head again in 2024).
In our country, people generally honor their right to vote and, for the most part, want to expand that right rather restrict it. What the Republican Party, nationally and statewide, is trying to do is restrict that right, and in doing so is setting up an ingrained system of minority rule. Presently Democrats in Congress represent about 45 million more people than Republicans while only controlling both Houses by very slim margins. Why? Because of voter suppression laws, gerrymandered districts, and voter registration restrictions. All restrictive and aggressively promulgated by Republicans. This is blatantly anti-democratic and abusive towards people of color and of poorer folks. It is reminiscent of poll taxes and property ownership requirements of Jim Crow times in the south. Today it’s voter ID laws, restrictive mail-in voting measures, and the manipulation of districts to the Republicans’ advantage. It’s essentially how Trump won in 2016 after losing the popular vote and barely squeezing his way in as a result of a few counties in the Rust Belt to take the Electoral College count.
In 2020, he lost because of a massive voter registration drive by Democratic Party operatives, even in the face of the most serious pandemic in a hundred years. People like Stacy Abrams and her group Fair Fight, now DNC chairman Jaime Harrison, and ProGeorgia director Tamieka Atkins led the way in registering new voters as Democrats, providing, perhaps, the best antidote to Republican voter suppression initiatives. It was fighting fire with fire, and it worked, perhaps better than any legislation or legal efforts.
In their continued allegiance to Donald Trump, entrenched Republicans are even more beholden to his lies and fascist tactics. He continues to hold the hot coal of his claims of election fraud, all of which have been debunked. He continues to threaten retribution and “throw under the bus” all of his party who voted for his impeachment, waving a sword of Damocles for primary battles ahead. Trump is toxic for the Republican Party, but they continue to drink the poison he serves up almost daily, even after his retreat to Mar a Lago. Republican voters seem to be choosing to leave their party and distance themselves from a man who incited an insurrection against our elected government. But Republican lawmakers at both statewide and federal levels continue to be trapped in a monkey trap, refusing to let go of the meager food they think will protect them from defeat in their next election. All a monkey, and Trump, has to do is let go of the food and pull its hand from the trap, but it won’t do so out of overwhelming greed and desire.
Of course, the overriding goal of the current Republican Party is a return to the white Christian America of a bygone era, which is, in reality, both a memory and myth. And unable to reverse the trend towards a more liberal multi-racial and religious population, they are resorting to autocracy in the form of voter suppression. They figure with an ultra conservative Supreme Court and extremist state legislators, along with the backing of the core cult of Trump supporters and the extremist conservative media, they can pull it off. And if history is a guide, they may just do that.
We need to oppose their incessant efforts along every step of the way. It’s not a time for unity and bipartisanship. It just isn’t happening. The way Congress is shaping up, it’s the same old same old with McConnell and his talk of opposing Joe Biden and the Democrats agenda–as he did with Barack Obama. This is a time for forceful and intelligent action, Stacey Abrams style. It’s not a time for timidity and caution. In this national emergency of pandemic and severe economic hardship, we cannot let anti-democracy Republicans muck up the gears of recovery and rehabilitation.
Yes, Donald Trump, we do need to fight for our country, but not in the mutant way you encouraged your Nazi hoards to do. We need to fight to preserve life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, along with justice, the right to vote, and the right of equality for all. We need to fight against racism in all its mean guises and all its vitriolic manifestations. The fate of our country depends on it.