Our democracy was brilliantly planned for cooperation and checks and balances between the three branches of our government. Each was proposed to have equal authority. Today our legislative branch has been broken by partisan Republican leaders who selfishly have chosen to follow, sheep-like, the lying, power-seeking, greedy Trump in his plan to control the vote! To remain in office at all costs is their mantra.
Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on an updated version of the John Lewis Voting Rights Bill. It would re-confirm and bolster our Constitution’s 15th Amendment which reads as follows:
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
Shamefully, none of the Republicans, steeped in their partisan, monolithic view, voted to approve this bill. In striking contrast, in 2006, a similar bill confirming the Constitutional Amendment passed both houses of Congress unanimously! Our Republican and Democratic leaders once had a respectful relationship with one another. Reasonable action, discussion and disagreements, could be resolved favorably. From time to time over the years, restrictive voting bills were proposed, especially in the southern states. Fortunately, none were adopted. This has now devolved into partisan, disrespectful attitudes and behaviors.
Unfortunately, even the Supreme Court has become partisan as another branch of government has now been corrupted. In 2013, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts proposed eliminating the unanimously confirmed 2006 voting rights bill. He claimed that the southern states were now well integrated and that there was only minimal discrimination and racism. Therefore, he proffered that there was no need for this bill, which regulates how individual states run their elections.
The justices evidently considered this proposal reasonable, and readily confirmed Justice Robert’s recommendation, which opened the door for states to begin establishing regulations restricting access and voting based on thinly disguised racism.
As more partisan Republicans were appointed to the court, more and more of the restrictive voting rights bills have been allowed to stand. It is estimated that there are now more than 200 existing and proposed restrictive bills in 30 of the various states. The Supreme Court recently added to this problem by its recent approval of Arizona’s anti-voting rights bill.
It is difficult for me to accept that our constitutionally proscribed “representative leadership” is now willing to sacrifice our democracy for selfish gain regarding these voting rights bills and most, if not all, of the pressing issues of the day. Is there no regard for truth by these partisan Republicans? Do none of them have independent views, or will they continue under the influence of ex-President Trump?
Where is their self-esteem? Are they willing to be classified as bigots or white supremacists who refuse to vote for voter rights? How can these Republican congressmen and -women rationalize this, especially in light of all having taken the oath to preserve and protect the Constitution?
My Republican friends have no answers about this for me, and most are ashamed of their partisan party leadership. They have admitted to me that some of their partisan Republican friends have expressed fear of the “browning of America,” and their desire to keep non-whites as second class citizens.
Is it possible to eliminate this intense partisanship? Is there a way to move entrenched folks away from their respective corners and toward one another, with mutual respect and civil discourse? When will I again be proud of the once strong, conservative, and independent-thinking Republicans? How can these partisan Republicans be convinced to represent our diverse population and rebuild the three equal branches of the tree of Democracy? When can we say, “We, the People,” and have it include all of us, celebrating our differences and agreements in an honest and civil society?
Harriet Hausman is a longtime River Forest resident and proud member of the ACLU.