My skin isn’t thick enough to endure criticism trailblazers like Harris, Pelosi, Gandhi, Meir, and Thatcher have had to suffer; but I have been inspired to follow in their footsteps, in my own ways. As Harris told Marie Claire magazine, “I want [young] women to know, you are powerful and your voice matters." Amen, Sisters. Amen.
Americans’ right to vote has been a contentious issue throughout our history. Examples:
- August marks the 100th anniversary of women winning that right; before then, only men could vote.
- African-Americans were granted that right in 1870, but discrimination prevented many from exercising it until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson (D-TX).
Whether overcoming gerrymandering (used by both parties since 1812), or voter suppression (believed by many to be current Republican strategy), preserving free and fair elections is an ongoing battle. Five battlefields to watch this year:
With 2.8 million U.S. cases and 130,000 deaths, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Azar warned “the window is closing to curb coronavirus spike”. President Trump countered (erroneously), “99% of coronavirus cases are totally harmless”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) proclaimed the global pandemic is intensifying. Several U.S. states halted reopening bars and indoor dining; twenty-one now require masks (or “face coverings”, Republicans’ politically-correct term) in public.
Recent primary-election debacles in WI and GA (with hours-long lines and increased virus exposures for countless voters) provided jarring examples of what could happen – on a much larger scale – in November.
Vote by Mail
According to Time, some good news: “Many states are already working to ensure the general election will be safe and secure if social distancing measures are still in place this fall. Thirty-three states already allow no-excuse absentee voting, and five states, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah, conduct all-mail elections.”
Attempting to undermine this trend, Trump tweeted: “Absentee Ballots are a great way to vote for many senior citizens, military, and others who can’t get to polls on Election Day. These ballots are very different from 100% Mail-In Voting, which is ‘RIPE for FRAUD,’ and shouldn’t be allowed!”
To clarify, there is no difference in the processing of Absentee Ballots and Vote-by-Mail Ballots.
Trump recently explained his problem with mail-in voting: it would be harder for Republicans to win. But the facts don’t bear that out, according to FiveThirtyEight. BTW, Trump requested a mail-in ballot for himself in FL.
The Trump Effect — Hail to the Divider-In-Chief
TMM recently praised General James Mattis, former Secretary of Defense, for his honest assessment of Trump: “The first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people – does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.”
That strategy worked for Trump in 2016, so he employed it during recent July 4th celebrations (formerly non-partisan affairs), saying: “Make no mistake. This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution…They are determined to tear down every statue, symbol, and memory of our national heritage… We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters.”
Impact of Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement
Insult mostly-peaceful protesters all you want, Mr. President. But according to the New York Times, BLM may be the largest social movement in U.S. History. People of all kinds, in many states, are protesting racial injustice – while Trump retweets his supporters in FL yelling “White Power”. But will protests translate to votes in November?
Despite common perceptions about Black voters’ turnout, the Brookings Institution reports it was within one percentage point of white voters’ in 2008 (65.2% to 66.1%) and was actually higher than whites’ turnout in 2012 (66.6% to 64.1%). In 2016, however, without former President Obama at the top of the ticket, Black turnout dipped to 59.6%.
In WI, a swing state Trump won by less than 30,000 votes, the Democratic governor and Republican legislature wrangled over how to conduct their infamous primary election. TMM wonders: were they were searching for the best approach for voters – or their party?
Georgia’s recent primary-election fiasco, with voting-machine breakdowns and COVID-related nightmares, left voters wondering who to blame. “GA’s (Republican) Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, took no responsibility for the June 9th debacle, pointing fingers at counties,” according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
GA’s Republican Governor, Brian Kemp (who supervised his own 2018 election while Secretary of State) eventually won a narrow victory over Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams – who accused Kemp of election fraud and launched the Fair Fight voting-rights organization.
Gaining and retaining power are election goals for both parties. To determine who succeeds, elections must be FREE AND FAIR. Too much is at stake to take that for granted.
Moderates, be vigilant – and VOTE.
Written by Laurentine Nicoletto
Assisted by Jim Roane
Mt. Rushmore: Getty Images; WI voters: Anh Gray + KUNR; Vote by Mail: Brennan Linsley + AP; Black Lives Matter Protest: Jonas Ekstromer + Getty Images; Stacy Abrams: CNN