On the Fourth of July every year, Americans of all persuasions pay tribute to the concept of freedom.

It is our national birthday, one in which we celebrate the bravery of the people in the 13 colonies attempting to break free from a powerful empire while moving to create a nation different from any that had gone before. There would be no aristocracy or hereditary rulers. There would be no peasants or serfs. It would be a nation of free men — and in the beginning it was men, and white, property-owning men at that — who elected their government and ruled themselves.

On this day in 2021 — 245 years after July 4, 1776 — the grand experiment is hitting a rough patch.

On Jan. 6, the nation watched an unruly mob enter and desecrate our Capitol in Washington, D.C., fueled by lies alleging a stolen election. The insurrectionists gave their loyalty to a person, former President Donald Trump, rather than to the nation we all profess to love. It was and is profoundly un-American.

The failure of the Republican Party to stop the lies about the election and to investigate the events of Jan. 6 will lead to the extinction of this once-proud party of Lincoln. The actions of GOP leaders in failing to confront the dangers of Trumpism have been and remain shameful.

While they cower to a defeated politician, Republicans across the country — at the state and federal level — are seeking to restrict the right to vote. What, in a democratic republic, is more dangerous than a party seeking to control who votes?

A republic demands the rule of law, and a democracy requires the people vote in free and fair elections to choose their leaders. Seeking to exclude voters is the opposite of what our nation is supposed to represent.

Such attempts at exclusion are not new to the United States, if we are to be honest about our history. People of color and women could not vote for decades, and universal access to the polls did not occur until the mid-1960s with the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

That act is being gutted by a conservative Supreme Court in a series of rulings, most recently last week. In the latest decision, the court allowed Arizona restrictions on voting to remain.

In Arizona, Republican-backed laws rejected ballots cast in the wrong precinct and banned third parties from returning mail-in ballots on behalf of voters. Democrats claimed the laws discourage minority voting; that can be debated, but what is clear is the Supreme Court ruling went beyond upholding the Arizona laws. The 6-3 conservative majority made it clear the court likely would not strike down further barriers to voting.

Coming on the heels of the 2013 ruling that eviscerated Section 5 — the portion of the act that required states with a history of racial discrimination to clear changes with the Justice Department — this ruling further weakens the law. It concerned Section 2, which allows legal challenges to discriminatory election rules. The reasoning in the majority ruling held that even if minority voters are impacted, it simply isn’t that important. The court also is encouraging states to argue that their worries about fraud and election integrity can justify stricter rules.

Taken together, the Supreme Court has reduced the majesty of the Voting Rights Act, designed to ensure one man (or woman), one vote.

Congress can fix the problem — and it must — despite its sharp divisions, especially in the Senate with its 50-50 split between Republicans and Democrats. As President Joe Biden stated, “The court’s decision, harmful as it is, does not limit Congress’ ability to repair the damage done today: it puts the burden back on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act to its intended strength.”

And that’s exactly what Congress must do — break the partisan gridlock in the Senate, use the House majority and pass a federal law that protects the right to vote, secures the election process and ensures all votes are counted. It’s the best way to celebrate the freedom that we cherish in this United States of America.

(10) comments

Michael Grimler

All of this piece is fine.

But, it means absolutely nothing in the big scheme of things because there is no state or national enforceable mechanism in place to ensure only US citizens vote.

My research shows that only one state - Arizona - has a law on the books that requires voter registrants to prove they are US citizens...and, that law is not enforced.

That means tens of millions of people in the United States could be voting in our elections - a sacred right bought with the blood of our military - who have no right to do so.

The US Census is conducted to determine a count of people - not US citizens - in order to determine governmental representation that is based on population; the census doesn't count only US citizens.

So, here we have a country that is being run by a political group that actively promotes illegal immigration from all countries. Those illegal immigrants are counted in the census. Government representatives, including the president, are elected by "the people" who vote...but, as mentioned, there is no mechanism in place to ensure those votes are cast by US citizens.

It's not unreasonable to conclude that US policy is being influenced and shaped by non-citizens. In my opinion, that can only lead to societal disaster, and on this national holiday that celebrates our freedom bought and paid for by the blood of our military, our entire election system and the results are cheapened to a disgusting level.

Mike Johnson

As a person who's wife and myself were denied the right to vote in November, due to an incompetent, bureaucratic system in place for absentee voting, I feel focusing on that and stopping the complex and convoluted processes that were put in place because of the plague. The plague is over, we do not need such complicated ways to vote that are prone to error and political mischief. Remember when we had elections and everyone went to their polling place, cast their votes in person, had them verified on sight, and we knew the results in 24 hours or less? I want to go back to those days. Convenience for voters is not worth the security and incompetence failures that are systemic in the current system.

Terri Greenlee

It’s very sad that you’d use the anniversary of our founding to denigrate our great country and continue to promulgate lies and your divisive socialist message. A newspaper should publish news, not propaganda.

Jim Klukkert

Terri Greenlee- sad that you so little believe in your own opinion that you are reduced to name calling.

The 'greatness' of 'our' country is a matter of opinion, even the claim that the USA is 'ours' is a matter of opinion. If you think you will see your opinions prevail, you might well lift the level of your argument above merely charging "lies... [and] propaganda."

Though one wonders if you have the intellectual strength to do so....

mark Coble

It's great enough that almost one million illegals have escaped to USA in last year. So, yes,my opinion is that USA is great.

Comment deleted.
Jim Klukkert

Oh so sad, Senor Valdez, that you have not a single fact in your rebuttal of my reasoned and fact based positions.

Except that I am indeed a Democratic Socialist.

¿And in this age, that is una problema para tu?

Your problem is a lack of education and experience. Your have my pity, Sr. Valdez, que lastima.

PHILIP V.

One of the greatest virtues of America is we all have the right to express our views even when we don't agree. Unfortunately, the liberal media only presents one side of the true story.

Jim Klukkert

PHILIP V.- So sad that for so long the establishment only presented the white and wealthy side of the whole story, but happily, those days are receding!

mark Coble

Always play race card? Very tiresome and divisive? Yes.

Jim Klukkert

Lower case m, mark Coble, I will "stop playing the race card" when that position is no longer obviously and overwhelmingly true.

See: "How the White Press Wrote Off Black America" @ https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/10/opinion/sunday/white-newspapers-african-americans.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

"As the historian Rayford Logan writes in his iconic study of this period, the white Northern press cemented the stereotype of the Negro barbarian by making Blackness synonymous with crime. Headlines included phrases like “Negro ruffian,” “colored cannibal,” “dissolute Negress” and “African Annie.”"

Or in the immortal words of Racist Ronald Reagan "Welfare Queen."

I could go on White Dude mark Coble, but we all know what color your toast is...

Very tiresome and divisive, mC ? Yes. Very racist, mC? Clearly.

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