Hardly a day goes by in today’s America without deep public concern about the concerted effort by the Republican Party to undermine the right to vote. The GOP will do everything possible to suppress the vote — to make it extremely difficult for Americans to have easy and honest access to voting.
There is no democracy without a free and open voting process. The vote is the linchpin of our liberty. For much of our history, we have had a flawed and discriminatory voting system. Women, African Americans and other people of color were dealt out of our democracy.
Brave leaders over decades have paid a high personal price to perfect our freedom. Their courage and sacrifice served as an inspiration and brought us closer to the promise of equality. Although the progress was painfully slow at times, Americans could see the movement forward. Our hope never died; they showed us and we knew and believed that we had the power to create a truly democratic society and the key to that hope is the vote.
However, that hope is under assault from a president of the United States who has already declared the results of our November election null and void. He has purged the Post Office leadership to obstruct mail ballots — and even though he himself votes by mail, has called that illegitimate. Trump cultists in some areas have stripped entire congressional districts of adequate voting machines to force voters to wait in hours-long lines to cast their ballots; the Republican secretaries of state have been systematically purging minority voters from the rolls.
Clearly losing, Trump is with deliberate and dangerous speed charging that the election is rigged, threatening not to leave the White House after his defeat, and inciting militias to walk around neighborhoods with AK-47’s to intimidate voters. Trump and his abettors are hoping the necessity to vote by mail in the middle of a pandemic will lead to enough delays in tallying the vote to enable them to create chaos as we wait for the results. Clearly there some situations already out of control — Georgia and Florida, for example — and we have to hope the courts will provide redress before election day.
Growing up in the age of movements has taught me one thing: Do not waste time on the things that are out of reach and act now to save our rights. Stop wringing our hands and get to the solution.
Those who love justice and equality face two major challenges.
The first can be met only if we have the will. Launch a massive and organized campaign to get Democrats to vote by mail or at voting centers the moment they are allowed to do so. Do not wait till the last minute and let a hobbled US Postal Service delay our ballots. Every constituency, every institution, night and day, should be turning out our vote NOW. North Carolina will be mailing ballots September 5th and Montana starts early voting on September 16.
The second challenge is more complicated and that is the nightmare prospect of taking weeks to count the ballots as Trump and his militias demagogue the process, incite violence, and refuse to concede. There is an answer and it depends on our Democratic governors to step forward and act as patriots to protect our democracy. Simply put, call out National Guard troops the week of the election and let them count the votes.
Democratic Governors in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Virginia, North Carolina, Maine, and Colorado should mobilize battalions of the Guard by the thousands to achieve a quick, honest, and credible result. These Americans in uniforms can set up in the days before the election. Hell, you can have a squad for each precinct in each state. If ballots are contested, simply set them aside for any possible challenges or recounts.
The structures we have in place now to count the vote quickly are in grave danger. There is no more patriotic use of our warriors than to win this battle for democracy — to assure a quick and fair vote count and safeguard America from Trump’s machinations or even an attempted Trump coup.
This time, to defend freedom, we need to send in the troops for V Day.
Our democracy demands that we insure the integrity and efficiency of this unique election in the middle of a pandemic and prevent this stunningly unscrupulous and dangerous president from undermining the credibility of the count. We have the way to do that. Get busy demanding that we use it to get the results expeditiously or we will deserve the upheaval and yes, even violence that could follow an Election Day that becomes election week or even an election month.
All opinions expressed are those of the author.
David Mixner, whom Newsweek once named the most powerful gay man in America, has been a highly regarded leader in American politics and international human rights for over 40 years and is a best-selling author of Stranger Among Friends, At Home with Myself, and Brave Journeys (co-written with Dennis Bailey). A sought after keynote speaker around the globe, Mixner has lectured at Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, and the London School of Economics.
Mixner has raised over $30 million for candidates and charity organizations, including well over $1 million for openly gay and lesbian candidates across the country, and has participated in over 75 election campaigns, serving as campaign manager, fundraiser, or strategist. Campaigns include Gephardt for President, Clinton for President, Hart for President, McGovern for President, Bradley for Mayor, and Brown for Governor and Senate. Additionally, Mixner is a past member of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Party National Commission on Delegate Selection and Party Reform, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund (former National Co-Chair).