A year ago we witnessed one of the darkest events in our nation’s history.
It was Jan. 6, 2021, when a pro-Trump mob inspired by the former president’s lies about the presidential election stormed the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. They threatened many lives and injured others, all because they were lied to and told that a free and fair election was stolen.
We can’t ever forget what happened in D.C. on that day. But just as important is that we never forget what happened in the aftermath and how the lies that fueled that terrible day have been and continue to be used — across the country and here in Texas — to attack democracy itself and make it hard for you to exercise your right to vote.
And that’s why if we are to prevent another day like the one a year ago or another far worse day, and if democracy is going to survive, we must hold those elected officials who told the Big Lie before Jan. 6, or continue to do so today, to account.
In Texas, it’s pretty easy to spot who has been repeating the lies or is at least complacent with others repeating the lies. All you have to do is ask them if they voted for or are OK with the voter suppression bill that the Texas Legislature passed and Gov. Abbott signed last year, in the months after the insurrection. If they say ‘yes,’ that’s a pretty big red flag.
Rather than side with democracy, state Republicans spent most of 2021 figuring out new and devious ways to discourage or flat-out prevent people from voting. All the while, they refused to address actual emergencies like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a shoddy power grid that brought freezing temperatures from outside into our homes. They did it throughout the regular legislative session and the subsequent specials sessions, topping it off with a set of new political boundary maps that will dilute the voting power of Black and brown voters whose access to the ballot box was the target of much of the voter restricting legislation.
The fact is, the totally unnecessary piece of legislation that will make it harder to vote in Texas – a state where doing so was already more difficult than in almost any other state – has as its foundation lies that can be traced back to Jan. 6 and to former President Trump and his enablers. Without their lies, the reasoning for the voter suppression bill fails and it may never have become law.
It is now 2022 and we are in a mid-term election year. Control of Congress, the Texas Legislature, who gets to live in the Texas governor’s mansion, and many other elected offices are all on the line this year. In the coming weeks and months, some of the same people who favor voting restrictions for minorities or voted for the voter suppression bill will be coming to you to ask for your vote. When they do, they’ll include some grand pronouncements about how they care about the country and the democracy it’s built on. It will be up to you to decide whether you want to believe them, whether you have just been told yet another lie, and ultimately whether you want to give them your vote.
Or you can decide enough is enough, send a clear message that democracy is not negotiable and hold the voter suppressors to account when you step into the ballot box in the March primary or in the November general election.