Keeping it simple at the ballot box

July 7, 2022 3:00 am

(Getty Images)

This November I’ll be a single-issue voter, a practice I once considered short-sighted, even radical.

Dire circumstances call for dire measures.

My single issue is not a usual suspect: abortion, guns, taxes, inflation, or my 401(k)’s health. Nor is it character, although if it were, imagine the turnover in Congress and selected legislatures, boards and councils. My new-found “radicalism” is also based on more logic than some use when electing our leaders, silliness ranging from receding hairlines to plunging necklines to political campaign ad taglines.

It’s none of that.

It’s democracy. Our democracy, to be exact.

It’s simple: Either you’re for democracy or you’re not. Ergo, I’m passing on anyone who remotely abides our current tilt toward authoritarianism, undermines the bedrock of how we have governed for well over 200 years or plays footsie with those who traffic in the Big Lie or related conspiratorial claptrap.

Radical? An overreaction? Hardly, considering our flirtation toward authoritarian rule. If we eventually choose to embrace it, we’ll undo two centuries plus of living by the rule of law and letting the voters decide our leadership — signposts of self-governance.

Go ahead, scoff if you want about our slide toward minority rule or worse, but we have the receipts.

Even a casual view of the horror show that is the Jan. 6 Committee hearings has revealed that the former president, his assorted sycophants and violent insurrectionists wanted to undo what was — by every and any measure of real evidence — a free and fair election. Further hearings are scheduled, but I’ve heard enough: That only 40 feet separated the vice president and violent insurrectionists promising to kill him serves as a stark metaphor of just how close we were to losing our democracy.

Subsequent witnesses — nearly all of whom voted for the former president — have insisted the danger that besieged the Capitol on Jan. 6 is still afoot.

Sadly, the stench of that day has wafted into other parts of the country.

In New Mexico, for example, without any evidence of voter fraud, the Board of Commissioners of Otero County refused to certify the results of a recent primary election, effectively disenfranchising over 7,000 voters. The three commissioners had swallowed baseless concerns about voting equipment. The New Mexico Supreme Court, citing the absence of facts to support the claim, ordered the commissioners to certify the election. Still, one commissioner clung to his no vote because of a “gut feeling” about the machines.

Let’s go to the Supreme Court and the numbers: Five of the nine justices were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote. Reputable research shows that Americans’ support of a woman’s right to make her own health decisions runs anywhere from 70% to 85%. Yet Roe v. Wade, carrying with it nearly 50 years of precedent, was overturned. While the majority cited history to underscore its decision, noted historian Heather Cox Richardson said it “… used stunningly bad history, clearly just working to get to the modern-day position it wanted.”

There’s more. The U.S. Senate finds itself mired in a practice where the filibuster has given rise to the tyranny of the minority. In 27 states, nearly 148 bills have been introduced to limit citizens’ access to the ballot box to combat fraud where none exists. Some government agencies, including the Nebraska governor’s office, have moved to put barriers between themselves and the media who serve as the people’s eyes and ears.

Inundating our democracy, too, is a mass of misinformation from propaganda to blather to utter nonsense. This inability to discern fact from fiction and to agree on certain truths imperils us.

Evidence — the gold standard by which we’ve eradicated disease, fueled the free-market economy and solved public problems — is seemingly dead for some. They disbelieve experts because after all, they have the internet. They belittle science yet live lives bettered and extended by it. They cancel, doxx, diss, berate, threaten and, on occasion, carry out violence to prove their point. They are fine with erasing the votes of 7,000 fellow citizens with nothing more than a tickle in their tummies.

All of which makes November an easy call. My vote goes to those who work to strengthen our democracy. Those who truly stand up to our enemies, foreign and domestic. Those who believe in evidence, science and facts. Those who reject voter disenfranchisement. Those who reject that the lives of some humans are more important than others.

I just hope those people are on my ballot.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.

George Ayoub
George Ayoub

George Ayoub filed nearly 5,000 columns, editorials and features in 21 years as a journalist for the Grand Island Independent. His columns also appeared in the Omaha World-Herald and Kearney Hub. His work has been recognized by the Nebraska Press Association and the Associated Press. He was awarded a national prize by Gatehouse Media for a 34-part series focusing on the impact of cancer on families of victims and survivors. He is a member of the adjunct faculty and Academic Support Staff at Hastings College. Ayoub has published two short novels, “Warm, for Christmas” and “Dust in Grissom.” In 2019 he published “Confluence,” the biography of former Omaha World-Herald publisher and CEO John Gottschalk.