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Richardt Stormsgaard: Cancel culture and voting rights

Richardt Stormsgaard | Other Voices

In his recent opinion piece, Al Jones’ “There is no other hand” made some relevant points about the so-called cancel culture, whose excesses are providing a smorgasbord of delights for conservatives to object to. Even the constitutional right to vote is now blamed on cancel culture.

Washington and Lincoln may have been flawed by contemporary standards, but they were still heavyweights on the global progression toward individual rights and democracy.

During the 1700s, most people in Europe were serfs in absolutist monarchies, and in America, most immigrants arrived as indentured servants to serve out many years of service before attaining their freedom, including the first generations of Blacks.

Ben Franklin was an indentured servant as a boy. Women, serfs, indentured servants, and slaves had no political rights during the late 1700s, but the American Constitution provided the early principles for a developing democracy.

Frederick Douglass, who was born a slave and became a tireless early crusader for civil rights, accepted the American Constitution as a positive blueprint for the quest toward a more perfect union. He had a nuanced view of political and historical reality, unlike many current critics of our early political history.

Three million progressives in 2000 and again in 2016 chose to not vote for Al Gore and Hillary Clinton respectively, and for all practical purposes helped get Bush and Trump elected. There are now five additional conservative/right-wing SCOTUS judges who will almost certainly be rolling back civil and voting tights for many decades to come.

The inhumane treatment of illegal immigrants by the Trump administration caused widespread outrage, and the killings by police of unarmed Blacks last summer led to a groundswell of support for real police reforms.

But the calls from the far left for open borders and the defunding of the police, proposals so radical no country has ever considered undertaken such policies, left Republicans largely unpunished.

The projected solid win for Democrats in the 2020 election became a squeaker as Republicans successfully described Democrats as extremists. Once again, despite the best intentions, the Democratic left became an unwitting ally of the Republican Party.

The United States became the major creator of the Western liberal democratic coalition after defeating totalitarian Nazi Germany and Japan. After World War II, the Truman, Eisenhower, and the Kennedy/Johnson administrations strengthened the U.S. status as the leader of the free world, but in the following decades, major elements of the Republican Party became increasingly illiberal and anti-democratic.

Reagan ridiculed the concept of good government as advocated by Lincoln and Eisenhower. Gingrich wanted to flush government down the tub. Steve Bannon, Trump’s senior adviser, advocated blowing up all of society. And by 2018, Donald Trump regularly attacked national security and military leaders for resisting his efforts to subdue all branches of government to his personal whims.

In all other Western liberal democracies, conservatives, liberals and laborites generally pursued the common good from their different perspectives, as was the case in the United States prior to the Reagan revolution.

Huge tax cuts crippled the socioeconomic fabric, and deregulation encouraged corporate avarice. Unlike lower-income citizens in other advanced countries who continued to prosper during the past four decades, almost 20% of Americans now live in actual poverty with inadequate food supplies, health care and social support systems.

In 2013 the conservative SCOTUS again allowed Jim Crow-type state voter suppression, and by 2016 the United States had fallen into the second tier of flawed democracies, according to the Global Democracy Index. The United States is now classified as an an autocratizing country, along with Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and India, and the recent 2020 election was indeed a serious attempt to institute the kind of coup we expect in former Soviet republics or Third World countries.

The promoters of the “stop the steal” campaign have since been sued in civil court over the financial losses the deliberate campaigns of misinformation have cost voting machine manufacturers. One of the indicted lawyers has defended her actions by saying that “no reasonable person would believe the false conspiracies were true statements of facts.”

Conservative judges and Republican election officials rejected the false claims of voting irregularities, but Republicans are doubling down on the myth of massive voter fraud. They have filed more more than 250 pieces of additional state legislation to curb access to voting since the 2020 election, and have now fully assumed the role of the Southern Democrats of old, whose claim to power was based on voter suppression of minorities.

Richardt Stormsgaard lives in Nevada City.

Editor’s note: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the official poverty rate was 10.5% in 2019, the latest available and the lowest since estimates were initially reported in 1959.


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