Last week, Senator Sinema took to the Senate floor to declare her opposition to altering filibuster rules in order to advance the two Democratic voting rights packages: the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. By doing so, she once again betrayed the trust the people of Arizona placed in her, and made our country a worse place in the process.
With Sinema obstructing yet another piece of progressive legislation, it may seem like we’re stuck in an endless rerun of disappointment. But we must not despair. Yes, the Democratic agenda is being sidelined by a small minority of Democrats in the US Senate despite control of both the Presidency and Congress, but voting rights aren’t something to shrug our shoulders over and give up on in the face of adversity.
Right now, GOP state legislatures across the country are systematically working to restrict people’s access to the ballot box. Take Georgia, for example. They’ve removed drop-off ballot boxes across the state and even made it illegal for outside groups to hand out food and water to voters queuing to cast a ballot. Based on the laws that Georgia and other Republican-leaning swing states are passing, if we do not act now, the upcoming elections are likely to be marred by voter suppression.
Without free and fair elections where everyone’s right to vote is secure, we risk turning over the levers of power to wealthy people who would like nothing more than absolute control of our government. For the sake of our democracy, we cannot allow that to happen.
No one should have to wait in long, snaking queues to exercise their right to vote in this country. Election day should be a national holiday, and mail-in voting should be nationwide with numerous drop boxes. These stipulations are included in the two Democratic voting rights bills currently stalled in the Senate and they are absolutely necessary to ensure that every American has equal access to our elections. Every delay or barrier to voting restricts the one ultimate power that is guaranteed as a citizen of a democracy.
Time is running out for America to remain a democracy.
Wealthy political donors are fine with any and all obstacles to voting because, as long as they continue to bankroll their GOP operatives, they will continue to get their way when it comes to the economic legislation that keeps them wealthy. They’re scared of the future of this country. They see the change in the electorate: voters are more educated, diverse, urban, and less interested in what they’re selling. So the only way they can hold onto power is by nefarious, obstructive measures and sowing distrust in our electoral system.
In the United States, wealth and power already go hand in hand. Even before the 2010 Citizens United ruling that opened the floodgates to massive election spending, wealthy Americans have always used their outsized fortunes to try to get their way in our political system.
Look no further than the 2017 GOP tax cuts to get a sense of what kind of policies the wealthy and corporations create when they hold the reins of power. All in all, the long-promised “middle-class” Trump tax cuts came out to about $65 a month for middle-income earners, while nearly $2 trillion in tax breaks went to the top 1%. Some corporations even used tax loopholes provided by the bill to pay a whopping zero dollars in federal taxes. In short, this is what happens when wealthy people run the show in America: the boons float to the top and everyone else gets the crumbs.
Now more than ever we need tax reform to tackle growing levels of wealth inequality in this country and to repeal the GOP tax cuts once and for all. However, as long as power remains in the hands of the 1% and their GOP counterparts, they will continue to erode our democratic systems for their own gain.
This is why our organization is uniquely poised to support the voting rights bills. As a collection of wealthy individuals, we have firsthand experience with the power of political donations and the attention that political candidates pay to donors like us over everyday Americans. It’s time our nation recommitted itself to democracy and took the first step toward returning power back to the hands of American voters.
That starts with securing our elections, making voting widespread and simple, and giving workers the day off so they can get to the polls on time. When the fate of our democracy hangs in the balance, we cannot give up on this existential fight.