The founders of America’s experiment in democracy rebelled against monarchical rule from England because they wanted to do things their own way. They set up a map on how to govern, the U.S. Constitution, that’s become the envy of the world.
Now there’s a president in the White House who seems to view the constitution as a guideline, at best, that can be bent to his personal preferences. And an entire political party has changed, part in fear of retribution and part in the craving need to keep power, to enable the rusting of our democracy’s foundation.
If we don’t watch it in November, the promise of America could become a nightmare for millions of people without privilege and who don’t look much like Ken or Barbie. That cannot happen.
Americans fought for the right to set their own rules through civil elections for a representative democracy, not authoritarian rule. To protect that, all Americans have an active responsibility to participate in democracy. To not participate is a slap in the face to patriots who created and sustained our system of governance. Now is the time to prepare for a sustained defense of the nation’s constitutional values, as conservative columnist David Brooks wrote this week in The New York Times:
“The process of mobilizing for an accurate election outcome, before it is too late, would be a struggle to preserve the order of our civic structure against the myriad foes who talk blithely about tearing down systems, disorder and disruption. It may be how we rediscover our nation again. It’s time to start thinking about what you would do.”
So here’s a guide on how to protect America’s democracy as the presidential campaign zooms for the finish line in two months:
Register to vote. Hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians are not registered to vote. If you’re not, you can’t participate in the process and have your say, one way or another. What are you waiting for? You can register online through Oct. 4 at SCVotes.gov.
Work at the polls. Thanks to the pandemic, county election officials are shorthanded. They need poll workers and managers for election day. The job doesn’t pay much, but it’s a way to keep lines moving and promote an orderly voting process. If you want to work on election day, contact your county election office.
Be a truth-checker. With the Russians and others again actively working to create havoc in the elections, be a truth-checker about what you read. Make sure you use a trusted source, not just believe what you read on social media or see on television. If something sounds incredulous, it just might be, so find another source or two to confirm what you read. There are no such things as “alternative facts.” Facts are facts. Make sure what you read is true before you believe and act on it. A good resource: PolitiFact, a nonprofit website curated by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists.
Vote. The S.C. Senate this week approved a bill for no-excuse absentee voting to give people worried about coronavirus a chance to cast a ballot early in person, by dropping it off early or by mailing it. Members of the S.C. House should pass the bill as soon as possible. The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is Oct. 30, but you should do it much earlier to make sure you get the ballot and can return it by election day. If you don’t want to vote absentee, you can vote in the traditional manner — in person at your precinct on election day. Learn more at SCVotes.gov.
Be patient. Based on what’s happened in recent elections, the outcome in the presidential and some state elections may be very close. Because states are expected to process millions of more ballots than usual because more people may vote absentee, results may not be final on election night. This creates the possibility that we may not know who wins for a few days, which could lead some to say they’re victorious when they actually won’t end up winning. Be patient. Let the system work. Let officials count all of the ballots. Then we need to be orderly in accepting the results and moving forward to make America’s democracy even stronger for all.
Editor's Note: This story first appeared at StatehouseReport.com.