Although it’s only January, I think it’s safe to say that “our democracy is broken” will be the understatement of the year. It’s not just the electoral college or alleged Russian interference – it’s the simple truth that too many people (mostly students, minorities, and low income people) are blocked from voting because of long lines, short voting hours, complex voter registration and ID laws, scant polling place options, a system of “provisional ballots”— that never get counted, or old and unreliable voting machines, etc. And for people who can vote, their voices are drowned out by millionaires and billionaires with unprecedented influence on our politicians.
In Michigan, for example, Trump won by 11,000 votes, but over 75,000 ballots in Detroit and Flint went uncounted because they were wrongly marked as unreadable, blank, or spoiled. And there was never a hand count that could have included these votes.
In Wisconsin, Trump won by 30,000 votes, but as many as 300,000 lacked proper ID under the state’s new voter ID law and were therefore blocked from voting in a way that was actually counted.
In North Carolina, counties cut early voting hours and polling places (disproportionately in minority precincts)—causing people to stand in long lines that lasted several hours and could have dissuaded people from voting.
But worst of all, at the presidential level, both of the major-party presidential candidates pandered to the working class, but catered to the ultra-rich. Lower income people—the people on whose backs they made their millions and billions—didn’t even get lip service.
Trump promised to “drain the swamp” but now he’s moving to Washington, D.C. followed by a court of Wall Street insiders, big oil tycoons, war profiteers, and scoundrels.
The only way we can restore our democracy and restore sanity to our government is to elevate the voices of everyday people. That means we need to get big money out of politics, end the special access to billionaire patrons, and stop voter suppression.
It starts with the Stampede – a mass, decentralized, and sustained protest to demand the restoration of the Voting Rights Act and a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.