“Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves.”

D. H. Lawrence

An imperative to the health and survivability of a democracy are both open, free and fair elections and public faith in the results of those elections.

From our nation’s founding and adoption of an imperfect constitution, there has been slow but inexorable progress expanding voting rights for all Americans; free of racial, gender, literacy, poll tax and other barriers which historically disenfranchised millions of citizens from voting.  This march toward “a more perfect union” reached a crescendo with the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Since then, there has been a constant onslaught to turn back the clock by partisan state legislatures more concerned with ensuring re-election of incumbents and preserving party majorities than expanding voter participation.  Gerrymandering, effectively allowing candidates to select their voters instead of the voters picking their elected officials and the Citizens United decision, encouraging “dark money” to inflate the already obscene costs of running for public office, from local school boards to state houses to Congress and the presidency, are notable examples.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has been complicit in impeding greater voter participation and counting every vote, whether in their Bush v. Gore action or more recent decisions effectively endorsing states’ actions limiting voter registration and voting rights.

Then came the 2016 election when President-elect Trump began the first of his “big lies” concerning election outcomes, claiming he won the popular vote which he actually lost by 3,000,000 votes. 

Insecure about his 2020 prospects, Trump began a drumbeat months before the November election claiming the only way he could lose was a rigged election.  Meanwhile, political parties registered record numbers of new voters and many states expanded opportunities for those legally-eligible to cast ballots through the use of expanded early and mail-in voting as well as secure drop-off locations and allowing votes cast on or before the close of the polls on election night to be counted even if received a day or two later.

The results were the highest number and percentage of eligible voters casting ballots in over 100 years!

The fact final results were not known on election night was caused by the huge number of non-machine ballots cast and, in some Republican-controlled states, forbidding the pre-counting of millions of mail-in ballots until election day. 

Despite rampant conspiracy theories, recounts in several “swing states” validated the original vote counts, the non-Partisan Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council Executive Committee & Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency concluded, “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history,” and the president’s Attorney General stated, "we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election."

Despite his decisively lost, Trump’s unrelenting and unfounded verbal assault on the election has resulted in an increasing number of Americans losing faith in the process and outcomes as well as the January 6th assault of the Capitol.

Instead of trying to strengthen the initiatives which encouraged a record number of Americans to vote, Republican-controlled legislatures in 28 states have filed more than 100 bills potentially making it more difficult for many of their constituents to vote in future elections.

With our democracy at stake, Congress must step in as it did in 1965 and enact national standards for federal elections which cannot be capriciously overruled by partisan state legislatures or governors.  Congress must take up and pass some version of the For the People Act expanding voting rights for American citizens, changing campaign finance laws to reduce the magnitude and influence of money in politics, eliminating partisan gerrymandering, and creating new ethics rules for federal officeholders.

Americans should demand their representatives support such sensible efforts as the best way to ensure the future strength of our democracy. 

For those who don’t and for members of Congress who refuse to support such egalitarian changes, one wonders if they truly believe in representative democracy.