President Donald J. Trump is finally building his wall. But this one is not on the U.S. southern border.
The “wall” is between American voters and their resolve to protect the experiment called democracy that has sustained the nation for two and a half centuries.
The challenge — being met by the voters and dedicated professionals in law enforcement – is whether this Trump “wall” will be pierced and trampled. There is reason to hope. But there is also fear that voter suppression and attacks on the election’s validity will significantly lower turnout.
This week, NEWSDAY put it bluntly: “Trump, GOP working to tamp down voter turnout”.
Despite the obstacles constructed by the president and his allies, voters are demonstrating not only traditional patriotism but also courage (yes, that must be said). Here, in mid-October, a record-shattering fifteen million voters have already cast their ballots in early voting. But voter suppression is already rife. Reports at early-voting locations in Georgia and Texas are showing Americans waiting five, ten or more or more hours to cast their ballots. And still they come.
Leaders of the federal agencies entrusted withprotecting the vote have just reassured us that great measures are being taken to keep the election secure, free and fair: “Reassurance” – https://bit.ly/3dfzL3G .
Similarly, there is this re-assurance from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law:
“6 Reasons Not to Panic About the Election.”
Still, another question gnaws: Will the president accept an election defeat? Both he and the vice president have cast serious doubts that they will. And so, some political experts have contended that only a “landslide’ defeat is the nation’s best hope for an orderly transition.
Of course, the election outcome is far from certain. Political poling is suspect in the wake of the 2016 national election; and there is also this current daily voter suppression. Too, the president is energizing his base with planned daily rallies in “swing states”.
On voter suppression, this from the NEWSDAY article: “For all the ‘get out the vote’ messages this election season, there’s another effort to discourage people from casting a ballot … Through a raft of tactics, President Donald Trump and some Republican allies are taking steps to try to decrease turnout for the election, experts say, a move that renders stark contrast to others fighting to try to make voting easier amid the pandemic. Trump sees a low turnout as a path to victory.”
The efforts by voting rights adherents are impressive. They have launched many court cases and have already won a few against an administration that is trying to run out the election clock. And a veritable storm of national communications campaigns is encouraging and facilitating voting. Special “vertical” efforts by organizations and institutions have augmented these campaigns. One of many creative examples: Georgetown University Law School’s “Fact Sheet: Protecting Against Voter Intimidation”
For the next three weeks the VOTE! community will have to continue to marshal, support and sustain the energy and commitments of the many millions of Americans who have not yet voted, especially those in the “swing states”.
At stake: American democracy.