OP-ED: HOW TO KILL A DEMOCRACY?! 

By Rev. Wendell Anthony 

 It is apparent that the body in America is being ignored. Last November, the American people by a majority of 7 million votes elected a new president.

Joseph R. Biden got 81 million votes to Donald J. Trump’s 74 million. It was the highest voter turnout since 1900. Despite this, American democracy has been called into question. Voters have been made to believe fraud was committed, machines were rigged, and illegal ballots were cast. Phony voter audits have been called for in the states of Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and even attempts have been made in Michigan. The U.S. Justice Department warned, “that some jurisdictions conducting them may be using or proposing to use procedures that risk violating the Civil Rights Acts.”   

In a letter to Republican officials, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela Karlan questioned plans by GOP-hired auditors to go door to door. Supposedly, “to confirm if valid voters actually lived at the stated address. The planned canvassing raises concerns regarding potential intimidation of voters in violation of federal law.

This is no more than political gamesmanship 101. It is a solution in search of a problem. It erodes confidence and kills belief in the system of democracy. It has been fueled by the raw bravado of ex-president Donald Trump, demonstrating that he is more authoritative than democratic.

His conduct and deviant actions mimic more the likes of Kim Jong-un of North Korea, Vladimir Putin of Russia, or Xi Jinping of China than a Ronald Reagan, or George Bush I and II of America. 

Trump declared before the nation, “I am the only one that can fix it,” (which he did not and could not). He called the Georgia Secretary of State demanding that he “find him 11,780 votes.” He entertained Michigan GOP leaders Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield at the White House, trying to get them to weigh in on Michigan’s presidential election. Eroding faith and confidence in the U.S. intelligence community, judicial system, U.S. Congress, trust in science and medicine, and even belief in our system of education from the inside out, not the outside in. 

This naked assault upon our democracy could be witnessed in full view on January 6. The citadel of democracy was attacked by followers of this seditious ex-president. They lay siege to the nation’s capital.

They broke through barriers and injured over 140 officers. Five persons were left dead through gunfire, suicide, and an uncontrollable crowd. Human feces was left in hallways. Congressional offices were ransacked. Windows were burst and the invaders rambled through sensitive Congressional documents. The motivation of these insurrectionists was to stop the legal certification of the duly elected American President. Indications are they may have been assisted by members of Congress in this rebellious act. Certain members of Congress continue to refer to this mob as a group of patriots rather than a pack of domestic terrorists.  

 Six Republican senators and 121 in the house backed objections to certifying the state of Arizona’s electoral outcome. Seven Republican senators and 138 Republican house representatives supported similar objections to the certification by the state of Pennsylvania. Many of these same Republicans voted to block the plan for a bi-partisan independent commission to investigate the January 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol. Several of these representatives may be called as witnesses by the special committee appointed by the Speaker of the House to investigate this attack. The question before us, which members of Congress and the U.S. Senate may have assisted this mob in the effort to overthrow our democracy?   

Amidst this mockery of democracy, former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani had his license suspended and has been ridiculed for making false accusations of voter fraud. Over 60 federal cases have been thrown out from coast to coast, due to their lack of merit. Accompanied by the ‘Pillow Man’ Mike Lindell, this vaudevillian-like legal team of Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and others have been laughed out of court. They look more like court jesters than court officers. The U.S. Third Circuit Court rejected such lawsuits challenging the 2020 election.

The court said, “voters, not lawyers, choose the President. Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy,” was the opinion signed by Judge Stephanos Bibas. Recently, U.S. District Court Judge of the Eastern District Linda Parker ordered sanctions against nine Trump lawyers including Sidney Powell and Lynn Wood. Judge Parker wrote in a 110-page opinion, “sanctions are required to deter the filing of future frivolous lawsuits designed primarily to spread the narrative that our election processes are rigged, and our democratic institutions cannot be trusted.” The lawyers were ordered to reimburse attorney fees paid by the city of Detroit and state of Michigan.

They must also take legal education classes. The beat goes on. After ripping the very gut out of the Voting Rights Act by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, voting suppression laws have exploded like the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The court struct down Section 4B to determine which jurisdictions are subject to pre-clearance based on their past discrimination in voting. Without Section 4B, Section 5, requiring states and local governments to obtain pre-clearance before making changes to voting laws, is simply a toothless tiger.

This past July, the court further gutted the Voting Rights Act in Part 2. They supported the state of Arizona’s racist voter suppression laws, which restricts voting at polling places and times of day for minorities.  

 404 bills have been introduced around the country to suppress and to reverse the decisions by the people to elect their chosen representatives. Politicians are trying to choose which people will vote for them by using gerrymandering and redistricting. They are ignoring that in a democracy it is the voters who choose the politicians to represent the people. 

50 democratic state law makers left the state of Texas to prevent their legislature from adopting new voter restriction laws. Texas, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and yes Michigan with its treacherous 39 does not want to be left behind in these voter suppression bills. In Michigan a special Republican election commission, led by Senator Ed McBroom, published a 55-page report indicating, “there was no evidence of widespread systemic fraud in Michigan’s prosecution of the 2020 election.” 

Despite this report, Michigan Republicans still pursue a course of eroding voter confidence and poisoning American democracy. They seek to eliminate drop boxes, early voting, and making counting provisional ballots more difficult with new voter ID requirements. They’re making moves to overturn the power of local, county, and city election officials, reducing the power of the Secretary of State to manage our elections. 

If they do not like the candidates chosen by the people, they seek to overrule them. Corporations and businesses beware. The money contributed to these legislators may be utilized for our democratic demise. Stand up against this tyranny.  

The NAACP and other civil rights groups in cities around the country are calling on the community to remain woke to keep the vote. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the For the People Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. We need both. It is only through federal legislation that the people can stop the death of American democracy.

The stimulus bill was important. The infrastructure bills are vital to the internal stability of our nation. However, without the right to vote, and a functioning democracy, there will be no lasting stimulus, or infrastructure for the people. The only structure will be what the people are told to do and when and where they are permitted to do it.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would not be President and Vice President without our votes being counted. President-Elect Joe R. Biden, in a victory speech in his home state of Delaware to thank black supporters, said “you’ve always had my back and I’ll have yours.” Well Mr. President, Democratic Senators who are on the fence, and Republicans who may have lost their way, our backs are up against the wall.

Black, brown, women, seniors and youth are boxed in by a filibuster rule not based on the U.S. Constitution. It has been stuck in the muck by a few Democrats and a whole bunch of Republicans. They refuse to fight for our democracy. America cannot stand if we let our democracy fall. Don’t wait until it is too late. All of the power of the Presidency must be used to preserve the right to vote today. Use it like Lyndon Baines Johnson used his power to guarantee our civil rights yesterday. Now is the time for all who believe in freedom to stand up.

On this 58th anniversary of the March on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let us never forget, “we have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drugs of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy.”  

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