As much as I want nonpartisan and cooperative action in Congress, I find myself in this “us opposing them” state of mind. These times are chaotic, but I believe that my views on public issues and civil rhetoric are shared by the majority of our country. As the following chart demonstrates, ongoing critical decisions in governance must be made amid an extreme divergence of views.
1) Support Russia
2) Minimal concern for environment and deny climate change
3) Support the NRA and add more police officers to the force
4) Promote private health care
5) Prohibit abortion
6) Edit history and ban numerous school books and teaching topics
7) Close borders to asylum seekers
8) Support white supremacy
9) Spread hate and fear
10) Support Supreme Court’s refusal to adopt a code of ethics
11) Limit minority voting with eligibility restrictions and curbing access to polls
12) Promote an autocratic government
13) Refuse to abide by the Constitution
1) Support Ukraine
2) Invest in green energy and take measures to protect the environment
3) Seek solutions to quell violence and establish reasonable gun regulations
4) Promote affordable public health care
5) Support women’s right of choice
6) Provide truth in history and access to all books
7) Keep borders open to asylum seekers
8) Criminalize racism
9) Curb the rhetoric of hate and fear
10) Require ethics code compliance for all justices, judges and lawyers
11) Shore up the 15th Amendment, assuring the right to vote for all citizens
12) Promote democracy
13) Pledge to support the Constitution
I am sure many of you have additional priorities for which you’d want government involvement. My priority is voting rights. Without free access to the pools, fair elections, and lawful and unrestricted balloting for all citizens, there can be no democracy. Yet voting rights have been a problem for over 150 years. Time and time again, voting rights have been reaffirmed, and then those whom I call “them” have found ways to chip away with restrictions that curtail access to the polls for minority and non-white citizens.
In March of 1965, my husband Marty and I felt strongly about supporting the fervent efforts of John Lewis and others to secure full voting rights for African Americans. We went to Alabama and joined the throng peacefully marching in Selma. On Saturday March 6, however, we were frightened as we watched a fully-armed militia amass alongside us. With some feelings of guilt, Marty and I left the march before our worst fears were sadly actualized the next day, on Bloody Sunday. Many were injured and some were killed that day. Although this nightmare took place, it spurred the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 three months later. “Us” versus “them” aside, the bill passed by a unanimous vote!
So here we are in 2023, and we are yet again wrestling with this same issue. “Us” versus “them” continues. I ask that “us” urge our legislators to buffer, not weaken, voting rights, the very foundation of democratic governance. Fortunately, our country is still populated with more of “us” than “them.” Let’s add to our ranks, heartened by the knowledge that we are on the side of the angels of Bloody Sunday.
Harriet Hausman is a longtime resident of River Forest and, at 99, likely the oldest weekly newspaper columnist in the U.S., if not the world.