Vote for Bolstering Democracy This Midterm Election
It’s been said inflation is on the ballot. Roe is on the ballot. The midterm has healthcare, student loan forgiveness, affordable housing, climate change on the ballot.
How about this one, Trump is on the ballot vis-à-vis his anointed candidates who are still pushing the big lie that the 2020 election was stolen. And each time should any one of these “fact deniers” win – how can this not be interpreted as a loss for democracy and a victory for resurrecting Trump, the autocrat for 2024.
Saving Democracy, that is on the ballot, too
In the mix of voters top reasons to go to the polls in 2022, along with the economy, business, social services and other weighty issues, Americans must also consider this election saving democracy from further decline. Here are just a few of the troubling trends concerning the weakening of democracy in the U.S. — some that preceded Trump, and others directly caused by Trump.
– Anti-democratic crusaders are still out there. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R) said, “The forces Donald Trump ignited that day have not gone away. The militant, intolerant ideologies, the militias, the alienation and the disaffection, the weird fantasies and disinformation — they’re all still out there, ready to go. That’s the elephant in the room.”
– partisan gerrymandering
– voter suppression, partisan attempts and success to adopt state laws that make it more difficult to vote
– excessive influence of special interest groups in politics via lobbying and campaign donations
– politicians who undermine democracy by the spread of disinformation put out by right-wing media and disreputable social media sources
– threats against office holders from governors to state legislators to elections workers
– the non-prosecution of public office holders who were involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection that could encourage future collaborative attempts at threatening government’s stability
– politicization of key positions in state and federal offices from the judiciary (as high as SCOTUS) to the new drive of Stop the Steal believers running for election posts that oversee elections and its certification.
– laws that undermine freedom of assembly, the right to protest.
– laws that attempt to restrict teachers from teaching topics on race and other controversial subjects, as well as laws that limit students access to certain books.
– a new development has promoters of the big lie claiming that county sheriffs can access voting machines and intervene in how elections are run, which would basically give unchecked power to counties in elections.
Wherever freedoms are being stripped or weakened — from civil rights to voting rights to long-held precedent rights such as abortion – these are all signs of democracy slipping in our country. And as American voters, we must assess who is working and willing to undermine freedom and democracy for partisan gain, and vote against these anti-democratic crusaders.
Two startling polls related to democracy at risk
Besides policies and fringe groups that threaten democracy’s vitality, we see public opinion on democracy is also changing. Two recent independent surveys were recently released that show alarming signs of U.S. democracy at risk.
The first survey conducted by researchers at UC Davis of 9,000 people representing a cross section of Americans across the nation found: 67.2% said they believe there is a serious threat to our democracy, while 50.1% said they believed there would be a civil war in the United States over the next several years.
The study also found that 42.4% of people said that having a strong leader for America was more important than having a democracy. 18.7% of those polled agreed strongly or very strongly that violence or force is needed to protect American democracy when elected leaders will not. 20.5% think that political violence is at least sometimes justifiable in general, and 12.2% were willing to commit political violence to threaten or intimidate a person.
In another survey conducted by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. It found over half of its respondents agreeing that the government is “corrupt and rigged against me.”
The survey of 1,000 registered voters between May 19-23 found that right-leaning respondents were more likely to agree the government is corrupt and rigged. Seventy-three percent of respondents who described themselves a “strong Republican” and 71% who identified as “very conservative” agreed with the statement. Roughly two-thirds of both Republicans and independents along with 68% of rural voters thought the government is corrupt and rigged.
Both of these surveys, again both conducted independently by academic institutions, raise real concerns for the level of diminishing support for democracy as well as distrust of government in the U.S.
A stronger democracy must be restored
Voters must not forget the brazen intimidation by armed militia at the foot of a few state capitol buildings just a few years ago. That was clearly attempts at mob rule. The Jan. 6 riot must not be forgotten, again an attempt at mob rule. Nor the authoritarian power grab by Trump who attempted to stay in power against the will of the majority of voters. Or that martial law and seizing election machines were all in discussion by Trump enablers – two grossly and dangerously anti-democratic actions.
While there certainly are many pressing issues to consider this election, we must ask ourselves what would any of those issues be like without a stable democracy. Recent history gives us a clue. Americans must reverse the erosion to democracy which has quickly accelerated since 2016. We must restore public trust in our government, institutions and democratic principles. We must restore the elections process and integrity. We must vote for democracy and those who will uphold the rule of law.