Crossroads

Scientists have long warned of the consequences of climate change and the vital need for all of us to not only change our habits but support legislation that will reverse the damage. However, there is another looming crisis that is even more threatening.

While Donald Trump has left office and is banned from social media, his influence continues to grow unchecked. He not only controls many of the republicans in Congress but many republican state governors and legislators, especially in key swing states. Texas is on the verge of passing a bill that would restrict voting for many throughout the state. Other states have similar legislation pending.

However, Donald Trump’s biggest legacy is a toxic cynicism that has so taken hold of millions that facts and rationality have been replaced by lies and distrust. According to Pew Research, under Trump’s leadership, the public’s trust in government hit an all-time low at 17 percent compared to a high of 73 percent in 1958.

While the needle is beginning to move up (24 percent) since Biden took office, the president’s biggest challenge will be to restore faith in America’s democracy. Simply put, Americans want… need to trust that elected officials are doing the right thing because it is the right thing.

Nonetheless, with several state’s republican majorities working to pass more restrictive voting laws, our democracy is facing a crisis of conscience like never before, and the country is on the verge of losing the one quality that has made it a shinning example throughout the world — a system of government in which the people can choose who represents them and the laws by which they live.

With more republican legislatures considering passing laws that would obstruct the will of the people, 100 (and counting), leading scholars from universities around the country signed a statement warning of the existential crisis America is facing.

“We have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election. Collectively, these initiatives are transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections. Hence, our entire democracy is now at risk. …

“Statutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration, with Republican-controlled legislatures giving themselves the power to override electoral outcomes on unproven allegations should Democrats win more votes. They are seeking to restrict access to the ballot, the most basic principle underlying the right of all adult American citizens to participate in our democracy. …

“State legislators supporting these changes have cited the urgency of ‘electoral integrity’ and the need to ensure that elections are secure and free of fraud. But by multiple expert judgments, the 2020 election was extremely secure and free of fraud. The reason that Republican voters have concerns is that many Republican officials, led by former President Donald Trump, have manufactured false claims of fraud, claims that have been repeatedly rejected by courts of law, and which Trump’s lawyers have acknowledged were mere speculation when they testified about them before judges. …

“The most effective remedy for these anti-democratic laws at the state level is federal action to protect equal access of all citizens to the ballot and to guarantee free and fair elections. …

“A new voting rights law (such as that proposed in the John Lewis Voting Rights Act) is essential but alone is not enough. True electoral integrity demands a comprehensive set of national standards that ensure the sanctity and independence of election administration, guarantee that all voters can freely exercise their right to vote, prevent partisan gerrymandering from giving dominant parties in the states an unfair advantage in the process of drawing congressional districts, and regulate ethics and money in politics. …

“We urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary—including suspending the filibuster—in order to pass national voting and election administration standards that both guarantee the vote to all Americans equally, and prevent state legislatures from manipulating the rules in order to manufacture the result they want. Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment.”

The For the People Act has already passed the House and is currently before the Senate.

America stands at a crossroads. If we don’t stand up and unequivocally make clear to state and federal representatives and senators that our election process is the backbone of our democratic system and vital to a free and fair election process open to all; if we don’t stand up for the integrity of that process, American democracy, as we know it, will be facing its twilight.

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