Our Democracy is Under Attack
by Ted Miller
first published in Tumbleweird January 2021
In a democracy, the people choose their government. For the people to maintain the power of government, a democracy must have an equitable voting process, a shared understanding of objective truth, and faith in the electoral process. These things are currently under attack by some of the same people that have sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
By the time I was old enough to vote, I was already serving in the military and had made that same solemn promise. I have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations. The oath of office, which every person in the military or in public office in the United States makes, is a promise to protect the fundamental principles on which this country is governed. We swear allegiance to the Constitution, not to a party, not to a person, not even to the President of the United States.
One of the hallmarks of our history has been the peaceful transition of power. When ballots have been counted and the election certified, the newly elected government is sworn in and takes charge, providing continuity in leadership. Stability in government, no matter who is in power, is essential for the stability of our nation.
And yet Donald Trump and the Republican Party have attempted to destabilize this transition, undermining confidence in the election with baseless claims of conspiracy, voter irregularity, and election fraud. Polls show that a majority of Republicans believe the election was unfair or stolen. The people remain deeply divided. Confidence in the authority of government has been compromised.
The 2020 presidential election is over. Joe Biden won the Electoral College (the constitutional process by which we elect a president) 306 to 232. He won the popular vote by more than 7 million votes. All fifty states have certified their elections. After more than fifty court challenges, there is no credible evidence of fraud and no legal basis to challenge the results of the election.
But attempts to overturn the election have continued. Last week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out the election results in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
Donald Trump quickly signed on to the case, followed by seventeen Republican led states. Then, 106 members of Congress, including our own representative Dan Newhouse, signed on.
The Supreme Court rejected the case.
That so many in the leadership of the Republican Party would seek to disenfranchise millions of fellow citizens to overturn an election is an attack on our democracy. They don’t care about the will of the people.
When asked about this threat to democracy, Dr. Heather Cox Richardson said:
“I think we are in probably the biggest crisis America’s ever had.… We have in power a political party that does not believe in democracy.… I think they are ideologically committed to oligarchy. And the idea of getting rid of poor voters, people of color, women, I think that that’s part of making sure that, in their minds, wealth can’t be redistributed. They consider having any kind of a government that provides a basic social safety net or regulates business or promotes infrastructure as being… a step towards socialism. Because it redistributes… wealth upward, the way it’s moved so dramatically since 1981.”
—Quoted from Bill Moyers’ Podcast: Democracy on the Edge, December 10, 2020 (https://billmoyers.com/story/podcast-democracy-on-the-edge-cox-richardson)
I am not alleging that every registered Republican is working to destroy our system of government. But it is clear to me that the leadership of the Republican Party is working harder to stay in power than they are working for the people in this country.
For now, efforts to undermine our democracy have failed. For now, every vote is still counted. For now, the people still hold the power.
But that power is not guaranteed.
We the people have the ability to keep the power of our democracy. We must demand equitable voting rights. We must pay attention to what our elected officials are doing and hold them accountable. We must keep ourselves informed, seeking out the truth and resisting the temptation to feed in to the disinformation plague that infects our public discourse. And we must organize, advocating for policies that work for everyone, not just the few at the top.
And we have to restore confidence in our electoral system. When we stop believing that our voice matters, those who don’t want to listen to our voices will win.