upcoming midterm elections in the United States are of utmost
importance, as the future of multiracial democracy in the country
hangs in the balance. What takes place during the 2022 election, and
the 2024 presidential election will determine whether America has the
potential to sustain a viable democratic system of governance.
American citizens seek to exercise their right to vote, the
Republican Party has been waging a nationwide assault on voting
rights. Republican attempts to prevent some Americans from voting are
part of a larger effort to erase fundamental rights and create a
Trumpian autocratic state based on white Christian nationalism.
year, at least 27 states have introduced or enacted 250 pieces of
legislation designed to restrict voting, according to the Brennan
Center for Justice. This comes after a record year in which 19 US
states enacted 34 restrictive voting laws in 2021.
bills, which have a disproportionate effect on voters of colour, are
insidious measures designed to obstruct the franchise and impede
voter access and participation. Republicans’ outright war on
voting rights takes place within the context of a political party
that appeals to a dwindling base of aggrieved and angry white people
who want to “Make America Great Again” and return to a
day when America was great for white men.
a Republican Party with unpopular policies and which makes overtures
exclusively to this base of voters, minority rule through voter
suppression is the only possible pathway to power.
Governor Brian Kemp signed a law making it harder to vote, requiring
additional photo ID, reducing the number of ballot boxes, prohibiting
outside groups from providing food and water to voters standing in
long queues, and allowing state officials to override county election
leading state in voter suppression is Florida, whose Governor Rick
DeSantis signed a law restricting vote-by-mail ballots and making it
a crime to provide water and snacks to voters waiting in long lines.
A federal judge struck down some portions of the election law because
it targeted Black people and made it harder for them to vote.
Meanwhile, DeSantis also eliminated two Black congressional districts
via racial gerrymandering and created one of the few election police
forces in the country.
official purpose of the new police unit is to crack down on voter
fraud, but voter fraud is exceedingly rare in the US. Still,
Republicans cite rampant voter fraud as a pretext for promulgating
these unjust election laws.
GOP claimed the purpose of one of its recent voter suppression bills
in Texas is to maintain the “purity
of the ballot box”
– language used during Jim Crow segregation to block Black
people from voting on the grounds they were unfit to cast a ballot.
That law makes it more difficult to vote by mail, allows for partisan
poll watchers to intimidate voters, and targets election workers with
criminal punishment if they encourage voting by mail or increase
states such as Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma are enacting
laws to “sabotage” elections – laws that allow for
partisan meddling and undermining of election processes, including by
creating pathways for the overturning of valid election results.
These measures destroy any pretence of a fair, transparent and
accountable election administration.
matters worse is the rise of pro-Trump politicians – those who
believe and promote the “big lie” conspiracy theory that
the 2020 presidential election was rife with fraud, and President Joe
Biden stole the election from Trump – who are running and
fundraising for secretary
races across the country. A once ignored bureaucratic position, the
secretary of state administers the election of a given state.
has endorsed secretary of state candidates in Arizona, Georgia and
Michigan. If victorious, it is presumed these pro-Trump candidates
would fraudulently manipulate their state election apparatus to
guarantee a win for Trump if he runs in the 2024 presidential
election. Even now, motivated by conspiracy theories regarding vote
rigging, Republican officials and extremist election activists in
eight localities are plotting to gain
illegal access to voting systems.
the absence of guaranteed voting rights for every eligible citizen,
and with a wholesale denial of voting rights to marginalised groups,
Republicans will enjoy minority rule in the Senate, Supreme Court and
is not only undemocratic, it is antidemocratic. If Republicans win in
the midterm elections through voter suppression, they will continue
to enact unpopular measures such as book bans and abortion bans,
prohibitions on political protest and the teaching of racial justice
in schools, and they will be able to block any initiatives to address
climate change. Democrats’ congressional investigations into
the attempted overthrow of the government will also be quashed.
American history has proven that voter suppression relies on violence
to maintain the rule of the minority. Above and beyond racist voting
laws that extinguished Black power and control of southern state and
local governments following the US Civil War, segregationists in the
Jim Crow South relied on racial domestic terrorism, Black church
burnings and lynchings by the Ku Klux Klan to intimidate Black people
and maintain power by force.
foot soldiers of the Republicans, such as Proud Boys and Oath
Keepers, already emboldened by their deadly January 6, 2020
insurrection at the US Capitol, may employ further violence to cement
their power. A Republican control of Congress could lead to the
impeachment of President Biden, and some Trump supporters have
floated the idea of installing Donald Trump as Speaker
of the House of Representatives.
is to prevent this state of affairs, given that many alleged January
6 perpetrators under investigation remain in their positions as
government officials in the federal legislature, and possibly the
to prevent this foremost threat to democracy and the rule of law
could spell the twilight of American multiracial democracy, or at
least the promise of a democracy that never was allowed to flourish.
voting rights legislation would provide an effective remedy against
state-level corruption and power grabbing, and stem the tide of these
brazen voter disenfranchisement efforts across the nation. Last year,
the House voted for two bold pieces of voting rights legislation: the
For the People Act, which would reform the funding of political
campaigns and expand voting rights, and the John Lewis Voting Rights
Act, which would restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a vital law
the Supreme Court gutted in 2012. However, the Democratic-controlled
Senate – facing opposition from Republicans and corporate
like Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin who receive funding from
Republican mega-donors dedicated to decimating the Biden agenda –
have been unable to pass the legislation through the Senate.
Republican assault on voting rights has taken centre stage in time
for the midterm elections, yet Democrats seemingly lack the resolve
to take immediate action on this or anything to save democracy or
even maintain their own power. As Democrats reminisce about a
far-flung era of bipartisan cooperation, the Republican Party remains
the greatest threat to America. Now is the time for people of
goodwill to act and reverse this disastrous course before it is too
commentary is also posted on Aljazeera.com