Today is Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. I need to remember that it is more than just a day off. We shorten his name to MLK and I’m afraid we also minimize his dedication to securing the right to vote for all Americans. We may think it’s a done deal that all U.S.citizens have the same access and right to vote. Not so. Certainly since the 2020 election and the “Big Lie”, voting rights have been under attack. The former president and his rabid supporters are pushing for voting reform to prevent a problem that does not exist, fraudulent elections. Certainly if he had won the 2020 election there would be no mention of voter fraud or intent to subvert the election by changing how votes are counted or certified. You lose the game, change the rules! This year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, an astounding 440 restrictive voting laws were drafted in 49 states, with the result that 19 states have actually passed laws to restrict voting. We sorely need the voice of MLK and for the voting rights bills to be passed in the Senate. Short of a miracle this will not happen.
Those whose voices are suppressed or silenced can not participate in our democracy. We will become a government for and by “some” of the people, an autocracy. As Orwell warns us in “Animal Farm”, there is no more or less equality, there is, or is not, equality. I am not being hyperbolic, I truly fear that we are at a critical point in our nation’s history where our Democracy is threatened. There is no government by the people and for the people if some people are “more” equal than others.
I remember the year 1968, as a year of lost dreams. This was the year Robert Kennedy Jr. and Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated. From the National Archives:
1968 was a turning point in U.S. History, a year of triumphs and tragedies, and political upheavals, that FOREVER CHANGED OUR COUNTRY. (My emphasis )
2022 is another year that will forever determine the course of our democracy. We’ve already seen triumphs and tragedies and we all know how divided we are socially and politically. We are learning just how close we came to having our 2020 election overturned by the former president and his cronies. Despite their ultimate failure, this was good practice for how to overturn elections, and they may be successful this year if we do not enact legislation to thwart them. Many activists now believe who gets the votes may be less important than who counts the votes.
Throughout our history we have been gifted with great orators and writers; Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln. Thomas Jefferson and many others. Words do matter and can serve as the catalyst for change, but in the end it is action that matters more. MLK “lived” his words with actions. On this day, I challenge myself and my readers to hear his words and commit to action:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of it’s creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” And “The time is always right to do what is right.”