Why be grateful and appreciative for the undemocratic obstacles that prevent some American citizens from voting and lower the bar for what true democracy is?
First published: March 2022.
Some have suggested that the boldness of the tyrannical autocratic war aggression displayed by Vladimir Putin and Russia’s invasion of a sovereign Ukraine should make Americans rethink recent criticisms about American democracy. That Ukraine’s circumstances should make Americans more appreciative and grateful for the circumstances in America. Nothing could be further from the truth than this sentiment, in fact, Americans being more appreciative or grateful could kill American democracy!
The election in 2016 of an American President who won by creating racial and religious division, the police murder of George Floyd which focused attention on the existence of the systemic racism present in the legal, financial, and educational systems of America, and the creation of state legislative laws that legalize suppressing what curriculums can be taught and what books can be read at schools and colleges, that legalize attempts to suppress citizens from casting a vote and that legalize not counting votes legally cast by legal citizens, have all caused many American citizens and many American institutions to question and criticize the functionally of American democracy.
Since all of these things are antithetical to democracy, some defenders of the current flawed American democracy status quo are desperately trying to cite a comparison with the Ukraine War, to justify the undemocratic flaws within American democracy. But no matter how bad things are in Ukraine or Russia, neither country is a proper comparison to American democracy, and even if American democracy is preferable when compared to either country it’s not a justification to overlook or accept the current flaws of American democracy.
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To compare Ukrainian democracy to American democracy is premature because democracy in Ukraine is in its embryonic stage of development. Although Ukraine declared independence from Russia in 1991, as the current war demonstrates, maintaining Ukrainian independence while fully developing as a true democracy means constant interference from communist Russia. Whereas democracy in America is in full bloom, albeit with flaws, any comparison of the two democracies would be like the unfair comparison of the life knowledge of a child versus the life knowledge of an adult. And any rational comparison of American democracy to the communist autocracy of Russia is positive by default, what else could it be since the definition of what communism is, is the complete opposite of what democracy is.
Aside from the futility of using a developing democracy and Russian autocracy to feel good and be grateful for American democracy, being more appreciative and grateful for American democracy based on Russia, Ukraine or the Russian Ukraine War is the first step to killing democracy in America. Because it lowers the bar of what American democracy means and it lowers the bar of what is expected of American democracy. It also implies that democracy is a privilege and not a right.
It’s a right, not a privilege for any sovereign nation to live in peace without being invaded and subjugated to the will of the invading neighboring country, simply because the neighboring country has the military might to do so. It’s a right, not a privilege for any sovereign nation to have the freedom to choose to join any military or political alliance of its choice without fear of provoking a military invasion. It’s a right, not a privilege for citizens of any nation to be informed with accurate information about the activity of their nation’s military.
An American should be grateful when a fellow human being decides to spend the rest of their life with them. An American should be appreciative of the fact that their grocery stores are filled with food to buy. But the ability for a human being to live free of fear of a neighboring country’s invasion, or the freedom for a sovereign country to choose its political or military alliances is not something Americans need to be more appreciative about or grateful for.
Because it’s a right, not a privilege, it’s a bar set and guaranteed for all human beings, not just American citizens, by the American Constitution where it states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Taking the first lethal step to American democracy by gaining faux appreciation and gratefulness, from comparing American democracy to Russia’s autocracy and Ukraine’s newborn democracy in the making, leads to taking the second lethal step to American democracy, the relaxation of the current pressure to restore the right of all American citizens to register to vote, to restore the right of all citizens to cast a vote, and to restore the right for all citizens to have their legally cast vote counted regardless of how what or who they voted for.
In other dangerous words to American democracy, why raise hell over the current state of voting in America when in Russia citizens have no true right of vote choice, and in Ukraine, citizens are about to have their right to vote obliterated by Russia. Be grateful and appreciative for the undemocratic obstacles that prevent some American citizens from voting and lower the bar for what true democracy is? Because although some American citizens might not be able to vote no citizens in Russia or Ukraine can truly vote.
A grateful appreciative sentiment about Russia and Ukraine is what can transform democracy into autocracy. Being appreciative and grateful for American democracy based on circumstances in Ukraine and Russia, creates a justifying environment for rogue American states to finish what a few have started. And the first time a rogue state legislature does finish what it started, by using its new undemocratic state law to disqualify a citizen’s legally cast vote under the fake guise of voter fraud, is the first day of death for democracy in America!!!
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Now is not the time for American citizens of goodwill to ease up on applying pressure to the U.S. House and Senate to restore voting rights in America, just because the current flawed voting rights in America compare favorably to voting conditions in Ukraine or Russia. Now is not the time to ease up on pressuring the U.S. House and Senate to restore small d democratic voting rights in America, because defending democracy in Ukraine against Russian autocracy is a higher priority. America must walk and chew gum at the same time. American democracy is smart enough, rich enough, and high-tech enough to restore voting rights in America and defend democracy in Ukraine against Russian autocracy at the same time.
Appreciation and gratefulness are not what Americans should feel by witnessing the Ukraine War, Americans should feel FEAR! Because if voting rights are not restored in America, what’s happening in Ukraine today will happen tomorrow in the United States, especially considering that the first autocratic attempt to overthrow American democracy already occurred yesterday last January 6.
Therefore, Americans can’t feel appreciative or grateful when witnessing the Ukraine War. Right now in many parts of America it’s legal to make it as hard as possible to register to vote, right now in many parts of America it’s legal to make it as hard as possible to cast a vote, and right now in fewer parts of America, it’s legal to not count or disqualify a citizen’s legally cast vote for any reason necessary. What Americans should feel is sadness, and if voting rights aren’t restored promptly, Americans should soon feel ASHAMED, of our precious indispensable small d democratic America!!!
— AUTHOR —
▫ Isaac Newton Farris Jr., Nephew of Martin Luther King Jr, he serves as Senior Fellow at King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially & politically active families has given him a unique perspective on current events.
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- Text: This piece was originally published in Isaac Newton Farris Jr.’s blog and re-published in PMP Magazine on 19 March 2022, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Unsplash/Yohan Marion. - Washington DC. | February 2022. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)