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My Take: Just another Banana Republic?

By Lou Kitchenmaster  |  Stanton, Mich.

It is likely that when our founding fathers put our democratic republic firmly in place over 200 years ago, they never really thought that any political party or entity might actually attempt to undermine or nullify it. 

Then came the Civil War.  

Lincoln’s historical Gettysburg Address in 1863, however, reinforced the hopeful and determined notion “that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” 

As a longtime, traditional leader on the world stage, the United States has strongly encouraged other nations to engage in that democratic ideal with fair, free elections being the lifeblood of any healthy, thriving democracy. The record-breaking number for the 2020 presidential election should be a source of pride for all Americans, regardless of the result. Two-thirds of registered voters participated, the highest percentage since 1900.

Yet, while tallying 11 million more votes in 2020 than in 2016, the former president was resoundingly defeated in both the electoral and popular votes. That did not sit well with him and his minions. In complete denial, the predictable, angry response was to discredit the results and proclaim election fraud with no meaningful supporting evidence, or eventual courts-validation of any kind.

Suddenly, with venomous political retribution at the forefront, it was “payback” time. Consequently, our democracy has been assaulted — which the ensuing Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and poorly disguised voter-suppression movements fully verify. Unfortunately, Michigan certainly is no exception, as evidenced by the militia happenings — arguably inspired by a fair number of rogue politicos, from state to national. 

Now, led by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, our Michigan GOP Legislature is calling for a host of vindictive election changes. No matter that it will affect a fair share of their own support base, the obvious aim is to make it tougher for the poor and less advantaged to vote — especially in predominately Black, urban centers, which typically lean to the left. Again, all under the guise of strengthening our “flawed” election process. 

In the meantime, the Georgia State Legislature, still reeling from the surprising presidential election results, in addition to losing two key Senate seats, has already enacted strict “reform,” which not only discourages voting but also makes a crime for anyone to offer food or water to those waiting in line to vote. Other states are trending similarly, emulating the behavior of various banana republics.

To the shock and dismay of ordinary citizens across the political spectrum (including top GOP leadership of past administrations), the threat to our democracy is real. Despite their deceitful mumblings and feeble rationalizations, the legislative mischief-makers among us need to held accountable. It’s the least that any supporter of free elections and a functional democratic republic should do.

— Lou Kitchenmaster is a freelance writer who resides in Stanton, Michigan.

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