Independence from the big lie

We approach the annual celebration of “liberty and justice for all” mindful that too many Americans don’t share that experience. How can we change that?

Unfortunately, an entire political party is working hard to take us the other way. In states controlled by the anti-democracy GOP, legislators are passing voter-suppression bills and bills to block voter initiatives they don’t like, such as to have state and congressional redistricting done by a bipartisan commission instead of incumbents entrenched in single-party democracy.

They are passing bills threatening the independence of county clerks who administer elections and civic-minded volunteers who help with vote counts, all because the 80 million legitimate votes for Joe Biden somehow counted for more than the 74 million votes for Donald Trump and were validated by the Electoral College despite GOP efforts. Trump’s base and most GOP legislators perpetuate Trump’s big lie that he won and the election was stolen from him.

Absent any evidence of voter fraud, Trumpublicans say voter suppression laws are needed to repair the perception that voting fraud is rampant – a situation created by Trump’s big lie and perpetuated by the GOP. They’d open the way for partisan judges or Legislatures to overturn election results that don’t go their way.

GOP legislators in Arizona hired a company with no relevant qualifications to re-count votes from Maricopa County, with funding by secret donors. The company got custody of the ballots, so who knows what’s happening to them? The GOP seems to be planning similar “audits” in swing states that went for Biden, never mind all the legitimate audits and recounts that validated Biden wins. 

Red state legislatures also are passing laws to sabotage First Amendment rights of free speech and peaceful assembly when it comes to racial justice protests. In some versions, everyone at an otherwise peaceful protest could be charged with a serious crime if one person (maybe a white supremacist infiltrator) commits property destruction or violence. The laws have provisions that are so vague that they can mean whatever those in power want. In Oklahoma, it’s now legal for a driver to run over a protester as long as it’s “unintentional.” Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

The GOP is moving us toward the kind of democracy they have in places like Belarus, Syria, Iran, Russia and Hong Kong. 

So those of us who want to protect free and fair elections and expand liberty and justice for all will have to do a lot more than wear our red, white and blue on July 4. November 2022 will be here before we know it.

– Carole McWilliams, Bayfield