Ballots for the Nov. 2, 2021, election will be arriving any day. This election will focus on state and local offices, advisory votes and initiatives. I am worried about the health and stability of our admittedly flawed democracy. On the national level, the Supreme Court has eroded the Voting Rights Act, and — due to Republican obstructionism — we have not been able to pass two important voting access/rights bills. The issues regarding the debt ceiling and the fiscal cliff were postponed until December, but Republicans seem to be willing to let our nation default on its loans, which would likely cause a global economic crisis.
The problem is not limited to the national level. A significant number of violent and threatening rallies occurred in state capitals, including Washington State. Most memorable was Michigan, where they entered the capitol and plotted to kidnap the governor from her vacation home.
There has also been an attack on the people who run elections. The goal of the extremist majority of Republican politicians is to prevent the certification of elections. One method for doing this is removing the professional elections staff, many of whom are non-extremist Republicans, and replacing them with extremists who will refuse to certify an election when they do not like the results. The lack of certification will throw democracy into chaos. We do not have a mechanism in place to deal with the audacity of refusing to certify an election simply because a Republican did not win.
Moreover, there has been a wave of recently passed laws throughout the U.S. to limit voting access in ways designed to disproportionately disenfranchise people of color and young people.
Given the fragile state of our democracy and the clear evidence that one party has been captured by an autocratic fervor, I am astonished when I hear “both sides” comments. Comments that blame “Congress” or “politics,” as if both sides are equally bad.
If everyday citizens choose to remain blind to the drift to authoritarianism within the Republican party, how do we prevent the U.S. from becoming a failed nation state? How do we prevent the traitors who stormed the capitols from roaming our streets with weapons of war, intimidating anyone they want? How do we prevent the U.S. from becoming more like Ethiopia and their horrific conflict or Iraq and the rise of the Taliban?
My hope is that people have been awakened to the importance of voting. My hope is the Black Lives Matter movement, the Jan. 6 insurrection and the efforts to control women’s bodies through excessively restrictive abortion laws inspire a deeper understanding in the politically engaged and disengaged that their votes matter in all elections. My hope is we will preserve our democracy through one of the most powerful tools we have — our vote.
Jill Mullins is an intersectional feminist, attorney, activist and much more. She has written for NW Lawyer, King County Bar News and LGBTQ+ outlets.
Read more of the Oct. 20-26, 2021 issue.