O’Rourke does more than advocate for the idea that without voting rights, our nation would crumble. He tells the story of Dr. Lawrence Aaron Nixon. Dr. Nixon was the son of a formerly enslaved man and an early civil rights activist. Weaving throughout the history of the state (and his experience speaking to voters), he shares the narratives of others who have also stood up for free and fair elections.
I enjoyed this book. With his usual eloquence, openness, and direct nature, he is challenging the reader to stand up for this nation and our future. While having an eye for what might come, O’Rourke is looking to the past and lessons learned from the mistakes of our forebears.
Every once in a while, there comes a book that is so essential that it becomes a required read for every American and everyone who believes in democratic values. This book is one of them. Speaking from the heart, he reminds the reader that there is still time to avoid the precipice ahead. That is if we heed the warning signs.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I would also argue that it is one of the best books of the year.
We’ve Got to Try: How the Fight for Voting Rights Makes Everything Else Possible is available wherever books are sold.
The problem, as I see it, is that there are too many today who give lip service to his legacy. Specifically to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. On paper, some (ahem, Republicans) will state emphatically that they are for voting rights and protecting the right to vote. In reality, they are constricting the access to the polls for certain populations, knowing that these groups have by a wide margin, have supported their opponents.
When the Supreme Court agreed via Shelby County v. Holder that two sections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were unconstitutional, it opened the door to the dangerous situation that our nation is presently in. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 would not only strengthen its predecessor but would also hopefully prevent another Shelby County vs. Holder. The issue is that this nation and this Congress is too fractured to protect the ideals that we claim to hold near and dear.
The only way to honor Dr. King’s legacy and memory is to continue where he left off. Though the ground that has been gained is tremendous, the reality is that there are many battles ahead of us.
At the core of our country’s ideals is the promise that every adult citizen has a right to vote. More importantly, the vote is accepted and counted, regardless of any affiliations or labels. But there are some politicians, who for either personal gain or ideological reasons, would prefer to limit who has access to the voting booth.
In Georgia and Arizona, several GOP lawmakers have presented bills that if passed, would put boundaries on this most important of political actions. These people are not dumb. They know which members of the American public they are placing roadblocks in front of. They also know that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prevents them from outright discrimination. Instead, provisions are sneaked in under the radar using specific language and details that are not always obvious upon the first read. I could go on further, but I will let Vic DiBitetto (Ticked Off Vic) take it from here.
The fact that it takes a foul mouthed New York comedian to reveal the truth speak volumes.
The ability to vote and make your voice heard as a citizen is the core concept of any thriving and legitimate democracy.
In 1965, then President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The law ensured that all adult citizens have the right to vote and the barriers that had previously kept citizens of color from voting (i.e. literary tests and polling taxes) was now illegal.
Not surprising is that you know who would eagerly repeal the Voting Rights Act due to of the often circulated myth that millions voted fraudulently.
At a rally in Florida recently, he extolled the virtues of voter ID cards.
The fact is that voter ID cards is just another form of discrimination. Specifically, to delay and/or prevent minority voters from being able to able to exercise their legal right to vote.
You know who and those around him want to take us back sixty years, if not further.
The dream of America and the American democracy was built on the ideal that all citizens are created equal. While we as a country has not completely lived up to that ideal, we have come closer to that ideal than we have ever been in America history so far.
Instead of moving forward, we are moving backwards as a country. And if I am to be honest, I must admit that the backwards direction that we are moving in is quite scary from where I am standing.