The Threat To Democracy Is Very Real, And Your Vote Matters

Oct 26, 2022 at 10:20 am
The Threat To Democracy Is Very Real, And Your Vote Matters

A little more than eight months ago, I endorsed Kentucky state Sen. Morgan McGarvey’s candidacy for Congress. While I normally avoid endorsements in primaries, I wanted to make sure that our nominee would be able to retain the only seat in the Kentucky federal delegation held by a Democrat. I was confident McGarvey could do that.

The rest is history; McGarvey is a few weeks from taking the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives that I have been honored to hold for the past 16 years. I strongly support his candidacy, and I look forward to calling him my congressman.

Obviously, I have a significant stake in that race, both personal and professional. But this year is very different. I believe I have a personal and professional stake in every race on the ballot across the country, and so does everyone who is reading this or not.

In the summer of 2019, I addressed the Louisville Downtown Rotary Club. My speech was about the issues I considered the most important for our society to have a viable future. But before I got to the meat of the speech, I said, “If you don’t think that we face the greatest threat to American democracy in our history, you’re not paying attention.” I believe that threat has only grown in the last three years, to the extent that this year’s elections — federal, state and local — may well determine whether our 246-year experiment as a government of, by and for the people comes to an end.

At least 300 Republican candidates for various offices still publicly say they do not believe Joe Biden was legitimately elected President of the United States. In more than half the states, policies have been proposed or enacted that will make voting more difficult, especially for minority voters. Many states are rolling back women’s rights to their bodily autonomy. School boards across the country are censoring books certain parents don’t like, and they, along with state legislatures, are regulating what teachers may say about our country’s racial history and other topics.

Conveniently, the vast majority, if not all, of these efforts are coming from Republicans. Indeed, the once respectable GOP — a party I once claimed — has become the anti-democracy, anti-freedom party, and it needs to be repudiated forcefully.

Of course, I have Republican friends, both in and out of Congress. I know most of them believe in democracy. They know our elections are run fairly and honestly. They know that the most vociferous election deniers are wrong. They know, for example, that Critical Race Theory is not taught in elementary and high schools around the country. They know that Donald Trump is a pathological liar and a narcissistic sociopath. They are essentially good people.

Yet they accept the lies, the bigotry, the disinformation, and everything else that threatens our democracy, and it truly saddens me. I wish they would think about their legacies.

I am not politically naïve enough to think that we Kentuckians who care about our democracy will deal a stunning defeat to Republican candidates in our Commonwealth this year. But we can strike a blow by turning out in massive numbers on Nov. 8, and help defeat Republicans at every level, or at least scare the hell out of them. We can reject the two constitutional amendments, neither of which would serve any interests except partisan ones. We can show, by helping to defeat Amendment 2 — which would pave the way for a total ban on abortions rights in Kentucky — that Republican cynics have miscalculated, as they did in Kansas, the popularity of their policies.

Finally, we can start, on Nov. 9, a year-round effort to protect our democracy by re-electing Gov. Andy Beshear next year and working toward reclaiming the Kentucky General Assembly in 2024.

It is an indication of what is at stake that we can honestly say this is not about Democratic or Republican agendas. This is truly about making sure that, as Lincoln said at Gettysburg, our nation “…and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” •

John Yarmuth is currently the representative for Kentucky’s 3rd District in U.S. Congress. In Oct. 2021, Yarmuth announced that he would not be seeking reelection for his seat. He is also the founder of LEO Weekly.

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