Is It Too Late to Save Our Democracy?
Today, the United States remains deeply divided on partisan lines due to issues such as voter laws and a highly disputed narrative over the events of January 6, 2021. For starters, 30% of Americans still believe that Biden did not legitimately become President of the United States, although that number has dropped since the events of January 6. Additionally, there is still widespread distrust between members of the opposing parties, with large majorities of Trump voters seeing no difference between Democrats and socialists, while a majority of Biden’s voters still liken Republicans to fascists. And while there is optimism to be found in the fact that both parties agree on many aspects of the reconciliation and infrastructure bills that are currently up in Congress, there is still an emphatic divide preventing the two parties from agreeing on a practical level. As long as Americans cannot even agree on who won the 2020 election, it seems there is no soon end in sight to the current segregation between the political left and right in the United States.
There is nowhere that the partisan divide is more underscored in our current political climate than in the disputed and often contradictory narrative of the events that transpired on January 6, 2021. With 62% of Republicans and 30% of all Americans still insisting there is evidence of widespread voter irregularities during the 2020 Presidential election, it is easy to understand that there was significant motivation for many of Trump’s followers to descend upon the Capitol on that fateful winter day. What followed was a protest turned riot turned insurrection, with rioters breaking in and laying waste to the Capitol, as well as attacking Police officers and searching for Democratic politicians to presumably attack and perhaps kill. In the end, the insurrection left one Police officer and four others dead, as well as many injured. Despite the clear proof of the events that happened that day, including content widely documented and circulated on social media, there has still been rampant disinformation and exaggeration by prominent members of the GOP in an attempt to paint an alternative, skewed narrative of the day. Recently, former President Trump took up this task, stating, “remember, the insurrection took place on November 3rd, it was the completely unarmed protest of the rigged election that took place on January 6th.” Additionally, another prominent Republican was quoted as saying the mob seemed to be nothing more than tourists, rather than rioters or insurrectionists. All in all, it is clear to see that there has been a skewed narrative of the events of Jan. 6 by many on the Republican side, resulting in greater political divide.
Another area in which this divide is highlighted is the current dispute over voting rights legislation, as the Republican and Democratic parties take widely opposing stances in pursuit of fairer, more accurate elections. Currently, the Democratic party is working to pass The Freedom to Vote Act as well as the John Lewis Voting Right Act, two bills that would make a huge change in easing the path to get many more Americans to vote. This would be accomplished through many different new laws, including making Election Day a national holiday, allowing for same-day and automatic voter registration, minimizing wait times, and making polling places easily accessible to users of public transportation; all of which have been proven to encourage greater numbers of voter turnout during election campaigns. However, Republicans disagree with the approach of the Democrats, insisting that it will be skewed to benefit future Democratic candidates, as well as serve simply to weaken safeguards put in place to ensure accurate election results. This comes despite the data showing that the Freedom to Vote Act as well as the John Lewis Voting Right Act both will make the voting process more safe, fair, and equitable for all Americans. As Democrats rally to pass new voting rights legislation, many States have already acted to push forward the conservative agenda to aggressively curb access to voting. Over 440 such bills came out in 2021, further restricting timelines and rules for use of mail-in ballots, as well as heightening the requirements for I.D when voting. Here, Republicans differ greatly in their approach to voting rights, intent on limiting Americans’ ability to vote rather than strengthening or allowing it.
From the above, it seems our democratic republic is in danger. Rampant misinformation surrounding our election process has been raging unchecked for far too long, raising a fear that there will be a point, if it has not already come, where we will be unable to trust our election process. Should the Democrats’ Freedom to Vote Act be prevented from passing, and the States’ voting restrictions all hold up in court, a significant portion of Americans will be silenced in coming elections. Statistics point to the fact that people of color, as well as many disabled Americans, are not represented when they aren’t considered in the Judicial and logistical set-up of polling places, as well as when mail-in ballots are restricted. I believe that the Freedom to Vote Act as well as the John Lewis Voting Right Act are integral to ensuring election integrity in the future, and without it, the voting system risks failing far too many Americans. In addition to that compelling argument as to how our democratic republic may be in danger, we can also consider that the events of Jan. 6 quickly became highly politicized, with both sides of the aisle spinning narratives of the other’s treachery. With this level of tear between our parties, it is certain our democracy is at risk. This split threatens to erode our democracy, as infighting and indecision will only weaken us from the inside, perhaps resulting in an end to our democracy altogether. At a bare minimum, this divide will weaken us from the inside, and we will be faced with many new threats from foreign sources which can only further weaken our democracy, such as the dominance of China and climate change. In conclusion, it is clear that our democratic republic is in danger; and we must strengthen our election system and eliminate infighting to remain and grow as a democracy and model country.