Democracy’s Refugees: Offer Them Sanctuary

by on July 13, 2021 · 6 comments

in Civil Rights, Ocean Beach

By Colleen O’Connor

What a time to be alive.  Wake up early and pay attention.

Tuesday offers all manner of news about chaos; pandemics, culture feuds, cyber-terrorism, domestic terrorism, racial and sexual cruelties, financial and food insecurities, raging fires, and devastating drought, alongside a couple billionaires blasting into space.

Forget the World Soccer Cup matches that unleashed hideous social network racism against Black players on England’s losing team; or the nail-biting (and history-making) Wimbledon finals or even the coming fan-less Tokyo Olympics.

The most riveting political spectacle (with massive consequences for the future of democracy) is Tuesday’s duel between Texas and Washington, D.C.

67 Democrats in the Texas legislature, flew to D.C. on Monday, and have temporarily deprived their Republican-controlled statehouse of the quorum needed to pass a regressive voter rights bill, and generated much needed publicity about the GOP’s voter nullification project.

Had the Democrats not flown to the nation’s capital, they would have been subject to arrest by Texas Rangers.

“This is a now-or-never for our democracy. We are holding the line in Texas,” said Democratic state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer. “We’ve left our jobs, we’ve left our families, we’ve left our homes. Because there is nothing more important than voting rights in America.”

And they intend to stay away for weeks or months to make their case for a federal voting rights bill.

This is the latest chapter in the longest-living feud in American history.  Also known as states’ rights v. federalism.  One enshrined in the U.S Constitution.

This country fought a Civil War to settle the issue, but it lives on. The federalist won, but the states’ righters now want to overturn those results with new Jim Crow laws.

Before 1800, local sheriffs controlled all county elections.  When, where, and whom to notify.  Registration was not required and voting was done orally.

Often, sheriffs would simply notify their preferred local landowner to bring his “guys” between a precisely given time.  Sometimes as short as an hour or two.  These “voters” would show up with their overseer, state their bosses’ preference, or (if illiterate) just mark “X” on the spot designated.

Then quickly, before the opposition could arrive, the sheriff would “close” the polls.  Efficient, corrupt, and common.

Elections have improved.

A series of changes to the election process in the late 1800s made it a more fair and complex undertaking, requiring voter registration, applications to vote, maintenance of voter rolls and eventually, the secret ballot.

Bigger changes arrived with Women’s Right to vote, and the far-reaching Voting Rights Act of 1965; protecting the rights of racial minorities.  Ironically, signed by the Texan President of the U.S., Lyndon B. Johnson.

Today, Joe Biden will probably wish he could build on LBJ’s legacy with a speech damning the new states’ right actions of GOP state houses and trying to guarantee federal standards for any American citizen wishing to vote in a “free and fair” election.

Currently, stuck in the Senate’s version of limbo.

Texas, by contrast, is fast joining the “Big Lie” crowd of 48 other states pushing 389 voter suppression bills to make votes vanish from the rolls; especially in heavily Democratic and minority populated counties and precincts.

According to the New York Times, the pending Texas legislation “is among the most expansive and sweeping efforts to restrict voting in a state that already ranks as one of the most difficult in the country to cast a ballot.”

It targets mail-in ballots, shortens hours and days for voting, restricts polling places (again, targeting Democratic and minority neighborhoods), and forbids food and/or water service to those in long lines.

Early attempts to stop “Souls to the Polls,” (in Georgia) where Sunday minority worshippers could congregate and accept rides to their polling places, is still alive.

Should those 67 fleeing Democrats become permanent refugees, offer them sanctuary.  Our fore bearers did as much and more to protect democracy.

Try to keep up and pay attention.  It is a great time to be alive.  Your country needs you, now more than ever.



{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris July 13, 2021 at 10:52 am
Frank Gormlie July 13, 2021 at 12:43 pm

Thanks Chris, I was about to put up that same link.


Frank Gormlie July 13, 2021 at 12:43 pm

We are all fortunate that someone like Colleen is keeping her eye on DC developments.


Gravitas July 14, 2021 at 7:21 am

THANK YOU NAACP for strongly supporting the Texas representatives fighting against voter suppression by covering their hotel costs and bail (should they be arrested by Texas GOP Governor Abbott.

It matters a great deal.


sealintheSelkirks July 14, 2021 at 12:23 pm

This IS a two-edged sword dilemma.

If not for ‘State’s Rights’ I would be in prison right now for growing my own cannabis where so many people I knew back in the 60s & 70s & 80s & 90s ended up. A young cousin raised in MB/PB knifed to death in a California prison (think it was Chino) after selling an ounce of weed to a narc in the 70s comes to mind rather prominently.

And, as a matter of fact, if the Federal f**king government wanted to they could literally come and arrest every single person in the US right this very minute with weed in their possession much less those of us growing the plant, and throw ALL of us in federal prisons. It is a FEDERAL felony, folks, look it up! So when a real anti-pot fire-breather becomes president we will be deep in the poo-poo again because federal law overpowers state law that overpowers local law.

You’ll notice that Texas hasn’t tried to re-institute slavery…yet. Cancelling black voting will work dang near as well I guess.

In celebration of the dichotomy of thought in this country (including so-called ‘democracy’ that says everybody gets the right to vote but only on approved candidates), I offer this for your thinking pleasure that fits right into the blatantly apparent Texas mental instability:

Imagine a Nation Like This



Gravita July 14, 2021 at 5:25 pm

Now Willie Nelson and Beto O’Rourke step up to offer financial aid to Texas Democrats.


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