I have pursued a career in public service with a singular mission: to give a voice to the voiceless.
Because I believe every voice matters. More voices are heard when more votes are cast. I dare to dream that one day, the American electorate will be comprised of every single eligible voter in the country. And I am proud to say that, between our first-in-the-nation automatic voter registration and vote-by-mail, this dream has begun to take shape in Oregon.
Donald Trump also appears to be motivated by a singular mission, although one vastly different than mine: to drown out all other voices with his own.
To Trump, only one voice matters – his.
And now, he is attacking one of our most fundamental rights as Americans, the very act of voting, using it as a political tool for re-apportioning power.
“The list of reasons he is unfit to be the next president of the United States is at least as long as his list of insults toward women, minorities, immigrants, military families...”
The list of reasons he is unfit to be the next president of the United States is at least as long as his list of insults toward women, minorities, immigrants, military families, people with disabilities, babies, reporters, and his own Republican colleagues. But only Donald Trump could declare with a straight face that election fraud – a rigged election – was the only possible scenario that might result in his defeat.
As charges go, that’s about as Trumped-up as they get.
What used to be the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt – and Senator Mark Hatfield – is now the party of an unfiltered reality TV star whose political philosophy is both fueled and informed by equal measures of paranoia and bombast. His success in elevating himself through the politics of fear-mongering is emblematic of the conservative leadership in several states taking action to restrict voter registration.
As former Oregon Secretary of State, I can tell you: by limiting who can register to vote, these states are limiting who votes – it’s that simple. Fewer registered voters means fewer voices in the electoral process. Curtailing access to the ballot is an easy and low-profile way to eliminate voters deemed unworthy and further consolidate power into the privileged class.
While some red states are making voting access more difficult for those they hope to exclude from the polls, Oregon is embracing innovative and progressive reform. We shifted our thinking to focus on what really matters in voting, which is, quite simply, to make sure that all eligible voters receive a ballot.
As a nation, we should be expanding voter participation rather than stoking fear and calling into question the very system of democracy that makes America great. Unfortunately,Trump’s idea of making America great includes questioning the validity and ethics of that system – including, it would seem, the Americans who participate in it.
Because of Donald Trump, this election is no longer just about selecting the next president of the United States. It’s about who we are as Americans.
We are a country where many full-time workers are living and raising children in poverty. We are a country where women are earning less than men in the same jobs. We are a country where laws are created to deny certain rights to people because of their gender identity or their race.
We are a country starting to think twice about whether it’s safe to gather in public – at school, on a college campus, at our places of worship, in a movie theater or a dance club. Rampant gun violence has pitted our constitutional right to assemble, to do the ordinary things of daily life, against the right to bear arms in ways our country’s founders could never have predicted.
“Of one thing I am quite certain: Donald Trump is completely uninterested in the real issues Americans face every day.”
These are complicated problems in times of great uncertainty. But of one thing I am quite certain: Donald Trump is completely uninterested in the real issues Americans face every day.
The skill set that makes for good reality TV does not necessarily translate to the role of Leader of the Free World. We as Americans – Republicans, Democrats, independents – deserve better.
Ours is not a perfect country, but it is a country founded on the idea that, working together, we can form a more perfect union. We need leaders who value and are focused on uniting people, building on the great America we already are – a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Every Republican across the country, whether in support or sitting in silent anguish, please listen to that inner voice telling you to disavow Donald Trump. The choice to do what is best for this country, versus active or passive support of a man who has proved himself to be a reckless and volatile bigot should be an easy decision ― if you truly want what’s best.