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Neglecting Democracy in America

With the US Supreme Court and congressional Republicans standing in the way of efforts to protect voting rights, Republican legislators in key states are doing everything they can to block access to the ballot box. Worse, even as a political crisis looms, most Americans are concerned with other issues.

BERKELEY – The right to vote is under assault across the United States. That right is the linchpin of democracy, and democracy is essential for maintaining the trust and rule of law upon which the US economy depends.

Consider what is at stake. The US model of market capitalism has succeeded lately in creating more and more equitable opportunities and outcomes for Americans. The recovery from the COVID-19 recession has been strong, with robust GDP growth, job creation, and wage increases, especially for the bottom 50%. Household and business balance sheets are healthy, and a record number of new businesses were created in 2021. Yet a dangerous new vision of US “democracy” seeks to restrict Americans’ opportunity to vote and choose their representatives.

While the US Constitution delegates authority to oversee federal elections to the states, Congress maintains legal authority over voting rights, and US courts have the authority to ensure that every citizen’s constitutional right is respected, regardless of where they live. The Supreme Court, however, has increasingly taken a hands-off approach to the issue, and Congress, owing to unanimous Republican opposition, has failed to ensure that voting rights are adequately protected.

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