We are in a second Civil war for the soul of America. The battle lines were etched in yesterday’s Senate vote as clearly as when the first shells struck Fort Sumter. The mostly all-white Republican Party is currently bent on eliminating voting that is fair, equal, and unfettered. Like expanding slavery, they say any decision to remove the shackles they are busily applying to the right to vote in states they control is for each individual State to decide. It is the same call for states’ rights used to perpetuate human enslavement and try to expand it across the country a century ago. It led to the Civil War, the Jim Crow South and its procedural offspring, the Senate filibuster rule.
Rampant, scurrilous, and unwarranted attacks on voting rights are being mounted in nearly every Republican controlled state. Their purpose is transparently aimed at suppressing the vote of blacks and others who tend to vote for the Democratic party. In some states new Republican laws upend democracy entirely, giving Republican controlled legislatures the right to change the winner without proof of any impropriety. Yesterday all fifty Republican Senators, including so-called moderates like Susan Collins, voted to prevent any consideration or debate on protecting voting rights. This was consistent with the effort on January 6th when most of the Republicans in the House and some Senators voted to reject the electoral votes in states where Biden won. At the same time, a Republican mob attacked the U.S. Capitol.
Meanwhile, Republicans have no workable proposals to address the many serious problems facing our nation. On taxation, they oppose any increase in taxes even for the giant corporations, millionaires and billionaires who currently pay no taxes at all. They have no plan for comprehensive health care, no plan for climate change and no workable plan for infrastructure except to limit it to roads and bridges. For that they propose to borrow plus take money away from state coffers and social programs, then increase the gas taxes on those with barely enough money to buy gas to get to work.
We are at a crossroads just as we were in 1860. We can move forward or slide backward ignoring the ticking timebomb of climate change and our crumbling infrastructure. We can do nothing about the problems of gun violence and unequal application of the law by police. Hiding behind the bankrupt flag of state’s rights to hold on to power offers no hope for the future and no end to rigged voting. We must stop protecting the wealthy from paying their fair share of taxes and we must address climate change whose ravages are upon us.
We can move America forward if we fight for what has always made America great, our values of equality, fairness, and equal opportunity. As Woody Allen said, if not now, when? If not here, where? Yesterday’s vote leaves us no choice. We must fight this fight now and to the finish as we did once before, or we will not have a country anymore.