A final plea — vote for democracy

Since 2015, I have often warned about the dangers inherent in a Trump presidency. I will not repeat those arguments here today. We are past that. In this election, Democracy itself is on the ballot.

I have sometimes been criticized for being against Trump so fiercely and so early. My reason was simple: I looked at the available data and decided that a Trump presidency would be a disaster. It has been far worse than I imagined. My resistance to Trump was not a result of “kneejerk liberalism.” It was simply an informed prediction. My fears have been proven true.

On Sept. 4, early voting began in North Carolina. Many other states will begin in the coming days. It is time for people to take a stand. That is why I want to make this final plea.

Prior to the start of early voting, Trump took steps and said things about the coming elections that every citizen who truly cares about their country should stop and consider closely. To me, they were totally disqualifying. They threaten the very integrity of the coming election.

The right to vote is the single most important right conferred by U.S. citizenship. It transcends every other right. It is fundamental. To take that right away is a direct attack on democracy itself. It just doesn’t matter what issues you care about, what party you belong to, what policies you believe in, or what judges you prefer: without the right to vote, you have no voice. If people don’t have a voice, then democracy dies.

First, Trump attacked the validity of vote by mail. These systems have been proven to be safe and secure in many states for many years. I have personally watched our system in Lincoln County. I never saw an invalid vote counted or a clear vote thrown out on a mere technicality. Second, his administration challenged early voting in Nevada (trending blue) but supported it in Florida (trending red). Third, his new postmaster general (unqualified for the job except for being a big Trump donor) started a general attack on the postal system — intentionally slowing down mail delivery and calling into question whether ballots would be received on time. Fourth, on the day before voting began, Trump openly advised his supporters to commit voter fraud by voting twice. Then, AG Barr (who has been supporting Trump’s false claims about voter fraud by mail) said this was OK. Even Barr’s own DOJ immediately said he was wrong.

Clearly, this is not a partisan issue. A vote for Trump is a vote for someone who wants to take legitimate votes away from U.S. citizens. This attack on the vote violates our single most sacred right. Trump’s actions undermine the very foundation of our democracy.

There are two ways to look at this. First, we probably all have neighbors, friends and family whom we like and respect, but with whom we don’t agree on politics. Fine. We sit together at Thanksgiving and don’t talk politics. But do you really want to look at these people and know that by voting for Trump, you were basically voting to take their right to vote away while you kept yours? Second, lots of folks who don’t like politics love sports. For every game there are rules. It doesn’t matter what team you like more; the game only works if there are rules. When the rules are corrupted, when the referee is bought, when the game is thrown, all the fun goes out of it. It is just a dirty, rotten spectacle. It stinks. A vote for Trump is a vote to abolish the rules.

There is no need to consider any other issue. The vote is sacred, but across the nation, Trump and the GOP have deployed armies of lawyers to suppress legitimate votes in every possible way. It’s pretty clear. A vote for Trump is a vote to end democracy.

Gilbert Schramm is a resident of Newport.