Updated: Aug 16, 2022
The right to peacefully vote for our representatives and leaders and the orderly transition of power is one of the greatest achievements of human civilization, bringing centuries of peace after the turbulence of monarchy or totalitarianism. For South Asians these rights came much later than the developed world, so the memories of colonization, imperial rule, and the trauma of transitioning to democracy are still within memory.
So it is with shock and horror that we witnessed how close the oldest democracy in the most important country in the world came to failing exactly a year ago in the attempted coup of January 6, 2021. when the U.S. Capitol was attacked to prevent the certification of the election results of November 3, 2020 and the handover of the Presidency to Joseph R. Biden and the Vice-Presidency to the first Asian American in this post, Kamala Harris.
Three “Big Lies” underpinned this coup and motivated ordinary people to be a part of this treasonous attack –
- That the elections were rigged.
- That the results could not be trusted
- That rioting to prevent the certification of results was a patriotic act.
The coup may have failed, but the threat it contained has not only not dissipated, it is now being institutionalized by Republican legislators in many battleground states by taking control of the electoral process. Led by the example of former President Trump, these officials are unlikely to certify any future elections that do not go in their favor, should voters brave the obstacles to make it to the polls, leaving any future elections to be messy battlegrounds with legal challenges and disputed results.
It is a depressing but realistic scenario, given the efforts already underway in many states. A classic example is Georgia, where Republican officials who braved the wrath of Trump and certified the Presidential and Senate results that sent Jon Ossoff and Reverend Warnock to Washington have been sidelined in favor of hyper partisans who continue to spread lies about electoral fraud. Other measures have been taken to make voting more difficult in Democratic areas of the state, like closing polling stations and redrawing districts to dilute the voting power of voters of color.
All these efforts are alarming in themselves, an “inflection point” as President Biden noted in his speech today, but as minority voters, we have the added worry that the melting pot we chose as our home and the home of our children may devolve into a bastion of white supremacy where only certain votes (and therefore certain people) matter and opposition is ruthlessly crushed by mobs incited by right-wing media entities and influencers. And as goes America, so goes the rest of the world. Right now, there is a "dagger to the throat of American democracy," as President Biden put it and, left alone, democracy in this country will not survive.
In this atmosphere of fear and gloom, is there something we can do?
The answer is an emphatic YES!
If you, like us, are deeply concerned about the fate of democracy in America, here are some ways you can help turn the tide. Pick one that seems doable and we’ll help you all the way.
Write to your Senator about passing the Voting Rights Act that takes steps to protect and preserve the most cherished right of a citizen in a democracy. You can write directly here or through a pro-democracy organization like Indivisibles or though the Resist Bot via text from your phone.
Help register voters in whichever state you happen to be in. They See Blue and Field Team 6 have events happening all the time. One is happening today!
Donate to organizations that work to increase voting rights and register voters. They See Blue is one of them, but you can also look for others that work in your state.
Talk to your friends and family about the importance of voting as an informed citizen. Point them to reliable news sources they can trust and encourage them to have conversations with you about their doubts and concerns.
Democracy is not something we can take for granted and the events of January 6, 2021 have shown us that we cannot afford to let down our vigilance even for a moment. But there is great strength in numbers and together we can prevail in preserving democracy not just for the United States, but for the world.