NewsStreet Scribe

Exercise Your Hard-Won Right to Vote

Delta is ready when you are. Credit: Michael Candelori

With just days to go before the 2020 election, President Donald J. Trump is trying to score a late win over his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden. This time Trump could drop the ball. 

“Could you imagine if I lose?” he asked a campaign crowd of red-hatted supporters in Macon on Oct. 16. “My whole life. What am I going to do? I’m going to say that I lost to the worst candidate in the history of politics? I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country. I don’t know.”

Millions of voters are hoping that Trump has his bags packed and his passport ready. Early voting is at record levels across America, and the Trump campaign is struggling not only in key battleground states, but also in states that the president won handily during his 2016 bout against Hillary Clinton. Still, anything could happen in this crazy, careening election year, and President Trump could very well win a second term when the results of the Nov. 3 election finally are tabulated. America is at a political crossroads this year, and it is up to the voters to change this nation’s direction away from the road of repression and back onto the sunlit pathway of freedom that is America’s elusive and still incomplete ideal.

The right to vote was and is a hard-fought struggle here in America. On Nov. 3, we have a chance to vote out a corrupt and calamitous regime while honoring those who have sacrificed and even died for such elemental American freedoms as the right to vote. American military men and women fought fascism in World War II, and many died in that campaign against an authoritarian regime. Two decades, other Americans were martyred for the right to vote when the civil rights movement challenged segregation laws that kept black citizens away from ballot boxes.

Just days after the late John Lewis and other voting rights protesters in Selma, AL were savagely beaten and tear-gassed by Alabama state troopers in 1965, a Unitarian Universalist minister named James Reeb was murdered by club-wielding men on the streets of the city. The young minister had come down from Boston to aid the voting rights campaign in the segregated South. He died a martyr for the right of all Americans to vote. In a fiery eulogy, Martin Luther King Jr. thundered that “James Reeb was murdered by the indifference of every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows… He was murdered by every politician who has moved down the path of demagoguery, who has fed his constituents the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism.”  

Viola Liuzzo was a wife and mother from Detroit who came South to aid the voting rights protests in Selma. She was gunned down by Ku Klux Klansmen on a road outside the city, the only white woman to be murdered by racists during the civil rights protests in the segregated South of the 1960s. After Liuzzo’s death, King told her 6-year-old daughter, Sally, “One day you’ll understand that your mom was a hero.”

Heroes are needed again in America as voters head to the polls this year. America is heading “down the path of demagoguery” mentioned by King in 1965. Trump is the Pied Piper of Plutocracy leading his followers down that poisonous pathway. 

The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine recently voiced alarm about a presidential election for the first time in the magazine’s 208-year history. “Our current crop of political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent,” the magazine editorialized. 

Another influential magazine, Scientific American, had even stronger sentiments. For the first time in its 175-year history, the periodical endorsed a presidential candidate: Joe Biden. “The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science,” says the magazine’s October issue. 

Voters have a chance to begin repairing the damage on Nov. 3. King, Lewis, Reeb and Liuzzo would vote if they could. Let’s honor their spirit on Election Day.