If voting didn’t matter, Republicans wouldn’t try to stop you from doing it
There’s no need to pretend America is perfect, or that decades of bad policy have been completely reversed in six years. The drift of America into endless with war justified by Bush-era doctrines continues unabated without any debate by Congress while any economic gains are being gobbled up by the richest Americans.
But there’s no doubt that the 2012 election changed America for the better. Because you voted for President Obama and a Democratic Senate, the following happened:
- At least 9 million Americans have gained health insurance as we saw the lowest rate of premium growth in years, hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid are seeing steady decreases in patients without insurance and we’ve experienced the best job growth since 1999.
- The Bush tax breaks on income over $400,000 ended as capital gains and estate tax rates, which are paid overwhelmingly by the richest 1 percent, rose.
- The first new taxes on the rich in a generation went into effect.
- Birth control coverage is included at no extra cost for millions of women with health insurance.
- This year, we’ll spend about less than $1,200 on each Medicare recipient than was predicted even as benefits for the program have been expanded.
- Americans with pre-existing conditions can no longer be discriminated against.
- The Violence Against Women Act was renewed.
- When the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not deny same-sex married couples rights, the Obama Administration and the Department of Justice immediately took steps toward expanding those rights to LGBTQ couples nationwide.
- After the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act’s pre-clearance requirement, the Department of Justice stepped in to use the remaining language of the law to prevent action by GOP led states that had been declared discriminatory the courts in just the last few years.
- We have an administration that not only accepts climate science but confidently dismantles deniers’ specious claims.
- The Environmental Protection Agency has announced modest regulations to curb carbon emissions.
- “For the first time in more than a decade, judges appointed by Democratic presidents considerably outnumber judges appointed by Republican presidents.“
- Student loan repayments for millions were capped at 10 percent of a borrower’s discretionary income and the balance is forgiven after 20 years.
- LGBTQ employees of large federal contractors have new civil rights protections.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Agency still protecting borrowers and returning billions to consumers.
- The Department of Justice has largely cooperated with the two states that have legalized marijuana as the Administration has moved toward a Drug Policy that emphasizes recovery that coincides with the first contemporaneous decline in incarceration and crime rates in decades.
Because 51 million Americans are invisible to the political process and Republicans kept a House majority while earning fewer votes than Democrats, the following happened:
- We had the first government shutdown in nearly twenty years, rocking consumer confidence and sapping billions from the economy.
- SNAP benefits were cut for everyone on the program.
- A bill that would slightly expand background checks for gun purchases, which was supported by at least 70 percent of Americans, died in the Senate with no hope of passing the House.
- An immigration bill that passed the Senate with bi-partisan support was never even considered by the House, which instead voted to deport undocumented people brought to this country as kids, over and over again.
- Unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed — who have born the brunt of the Great Recession — were cut.
- Cuts to the National Institutes of Health shuttered essential research just in time for a global Ebola crisis.
There’s lots more to add to both lists — and feel free to do so in the comments — but the consequences of our elections become more and more unforgiving as America becomes more liberal and the GOP takes two steps to the right for every one America makes to the left.
As I always say: If voting didn’t matter, Republicans wouldn’t mind if black people did it — and students and women and all minorities.
This election is especially crucial as it’s the GOP’s best hope of taking the Senate in decade. And, even if they get control for only two years, they’ll be able cripple efforts to implement Obamacare, regulate carbon pollution and fill federal court openings.
The GOP’s lust to suppress votes is being revealed in all its grotesqueness in Wisconsin with a law that would require 300,000 voters to get IDs by November with no attempt to allocate resources to make that happen. And this is after it was proven in court that there’s zero evidence in-person voter fraud has ever influenced an election in the state and this law would have stopped just one case of voter fraud — by a Scott Walker voter.
So do what you can. Registration deadlines are nearing. Register and remind your friends to register now — online and offline.
You can even use this tweet: If voting didn’t matter, the GOP wouldn’t mind if you did it. http://rockthevote.org/
But registering and voting isn’t enough.
Republicans know that a seat on the Supreme Court could happen at any time — and with the GOP in control of the Senate, we could see a confirmation battle that is as unprecedented as the GOP’s obstruction of President Obama’s other nominees. The right — who have long understood the power of our courts to subvert the will governing majorities — takes every election deadly seriously and do everything they can to multiply their vote and pervert our electoral system so that money matters more than anything.
Despite their best efforts, there’s nothing that’s more persuasive than a volunteer knocking on a door and explaining to a fellow citizen why her vote matters. Do it, if you can.
CC photo credit: Tom Arthur | Wikimedia Commons]