We always knew that the myth of voter fraud was dangerous. Now we know: it’s deadly.
Like you, I watched in horror last week as a white supremacist mob mounted a violent insurrection against the seat of government to disrupt the counting of the people’s votes. Directed by Donald Trump, they desecrated the Capitol, waving Confederate flags and killing a police officer. We’re lucky the result wasn’t worse.
This was, quite literally, an attack on our democracy.
Some are calling for unity — but those calls cannot be heard until there is accountability. There must be consequences for those who are culpable, not just those who stormed the Capitol. Many bear direct responsibility for the bloodshed. The white nationalist mob that assaulted the Capitol and desecrated its halls. Trump, of course, who egged them on. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, and their Republican enablers. There is wide and growing public support to punish those responsible.
But let’s never forget: those who committed last week’s attack were motivated by the same lie the Brennan Center has been fighting for years — that votes by Black and brown people and equal access to the ballot, amount to stolen elections. This was the lie that drove Trump’s fruitless attempts to overturn a free and fair election and erase the votes of millions. It’s the Big Lie.
It is this same lie that will lead to massive voter suppression across America for the next ten years if it is not stamped out. I talked about this with NBC News and my colleague Wendy Weiser discussed it with CNN.
Make no mistake: going forward, those who spew lies about the vote stand with the Proud Boys, not our democracy.
How do we fight an attack on democracy? We build the vibrant, multiracial democracy that most Americans want. We enact automatic voter registration, stop racist voter suppression, end partisan gerrymandering, and adopt small donor public financing, so that all voices are heard. We also shore up the protective guardrails — including ending self-pardons and curbing politicization of law enforcement — so this can never, ever happen again. The For the People Act (H.R. 1), the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and the Protecting Our Democracy Act are good places to start.
Wednesday was one of the darkest days in the history of our republic. But in the end, our institutions held. Congress reconvened, and they confirmed Joe Biden as our 46th president and Kamala Harris as vice president. American democracy is resilient — and now, we have an opportunity to repair and revitalize it. The stakes could not be higher. Let’s right these wrongs and make the next four years a period of accountability and long overdue reform.