Since the recent polarization of American political life, voter suppression and anti-democratic sentiments have been on the forefront of a war against democracy. America is in the heat of revolution. This cold civil war is a direct consequence of the 2016 election and its aftermath. So entrenched have been previous battles between the Democrats and Republicans that, in 1861, it ended in a civil war. While many of us fear even the thought of a Civil War, our current political picture eerily suggests that another one could easily be on the brink. What is going on now, with Democrats and Republicans even more polarized and extreme than before, could be described as a cold civil war, the biggest threat facing America today.
While it is proven that most of the country is not actually polarized, the far left and right have garnered the moderate into inexistence. There is no more middle ground. Even though there is not much dividing the two parties on issues like abortion and gun rights than it might appear, people are voting along identity politics. Instead of merely voting on ideological issues like mentioned above, people are voting along party lines regardless of issue. Just the symbol R or D, the words Democrat or Republican, are affecting polarization, not ideology.
This affect and not ideology is a staunch combination of ruling elites playing on the fears of the governed to further their own agenda. Many Americans have always believed “the system” is rigged against them, and hence, illegitimate, regardless of political party. Elected politicians, business leaders, and educators are leading the country in the wrong direction. And yet, these elites are the ones who are driving ridiculous claims to arise fear in everyone else. Conspiracy theories propagated by the likes of Elon Musk, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Donald Trump, and others. And the most evident of these conspiracy theories is claiming the 2020 election was rigged. Non-elites come to hold this same sentiment for other issues about the system as they do in election denialism. And this sentiment is playing into the hands of the elites to enact voter suppression laws and other anti-democratic measures.
Democracy at its very basic level is the universal right to vote. Without being able to have proper voting rights and supervision of elections, democracy does not exist. Blue and red states have always dealt differently with some matters of health, education, welfare, and police. It does no good to insist that all do all things uniformly. But that is the problem with federalism. Finding the right balance between uniform rule and separate rule. States are enacting more and more voter restrictive laws and anti-democratic measures. Nineteen states enacted thirty-four laws restricting access to voting, far and away the most in any year in at least the past decade. For instance, Florida Senate Bill 90 imposes a long list of new constraints on mail voting which disproportional affects people of color, who predominantly vote Democrat. On the current track, it is not difficult to see the United States ceasing to function as an effective democracy. It appears these laws and countless other anti-democratic measures, like gerrymandering and redistricting, are only going to get worse. A simple solution would seem to be to pass federal legislation to protect election systems and voter rights. But Congress is polarized, and the extreme left and right have made compromise impossible. Each side’s contentment to have its own way has created such standstill.
America must return to normal politics. You know the usual debate over taxes and spending, and not about rigged elections. Right now, it is difficult to imagine how the trust and sympathy necessary for good government might ever return. There needs to be a coherent, persuasive idea of the common good that returns to the public mind. We must stop believing that the political elites are allowed to describe reality for the rest of us. They must not control the narrative that is allowing them to enact laws that keep them in power and for people to consciously comply. Americans must come together and remember the issues they have in common with one another than letting the polarized political elite decide for them. At the end of the day, the most American thing about America, is its democracy. Let the people fight for what they want.