Across this nation, Americans are witnessing a breakdown of democratic values sweeping the land. That is clearly in evidence by the loss of personal freedoms, attacks on our electoral process, disregad for the rules of law, rising crime rates and senseless gun violence. Nowhere are concerns for the future more valid than here in Tennessee where recent FBI data which now ranks this state as having the 3rd highest rate of violent crime, robbery, aggravated assaults and homicides. Fortunately, the November 8th election provides Tennessee voters an opportunity to change those frightening statistics by electing a new governor together with state and federal legislators. Around the country other states will be doing the same, the results of which will decide which political party has majority control over the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. This election will be definitive in determining the values, direction, and type of government American voters wish to have and which political party they feel best serves those interests.
Given the importance of this election, we must thank the Tennessean for its October 9th inclusion of USA Today’s informative and illuminating Voting Rights Guide 2022 which points out voting trends and the specific voting laws and restrictions of each state. Notable is Tennessee’s poor record for voter participation – 46th worst in 2020 – as highlighted by an abysmal 17% voter turnout in the August mid-term elections. Interestingly, according to analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice, it can be expected that should MAGA-Republicans maintain legislative control in Southern states, particularly those with diverse racial populations, more restrictive voting laws will be enacted in an effort to decrease voter turnout among those most likely to vote for Democrats.
Hopefully, Tennesseans now recognize that the outcome of November’s election is critical to protecting the reproductive and healthcare rights of millions of women given that Republican lawmakers, emboldened by their success in outlawing abortion in half the country, have now set their sights on making criminalization of abortion the law of the land. Despite the fact that 62% of Americans remain in favor of abortion rights it will require a Democratic majority to ameliorate the damage done to women’s rights, health, and well-being by the repeal of Roe v. Wade.
So what can we expect should a Republican majority take control of both houses of Congress? Undoubtedly in typical fashion they will continue obstructing whatever bills Democrats might propose, regardless the benefits to the American public. Additionally, we shall see ongoing attempts to “stack” the judicial system and the Supreme Court with unqualified, but like-minded conservative judges. However, their first order of business will likely be the disbanding of the January 6th Committee and the dismissal of further investigations and/or prosecutions for those responsible in the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election. There is also a cockamamie scheme to impeach President Biden for unspecified “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
It should be remembered that this GOP with the help of Fox News continues to cast aspersions on the sanctity of our electoral process by clinging to and promulgating the Big Lie that Joe Biden stole the 2020 presidential election, despite widespread and definitive evidence to the contrary. On a local level, Tennessee’s increasingly extremist Republican legislators continue to pass laws intolerant of the LGBQT community, thereby fomenting the anger and hate-mongering which is reflected in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s report ranking Tennessee as 2nd highest nationally for its number of hate groups. Now is the time to hold this governor and lawmakers accountable for the many ills which beset this state. Foremost among them is our level of poverty ranking us 11th poorest state in the nation with the 2nd highest number of minimum-wage workers laboring for $7.25 per hour. Added to that is the dubious distinction of having the 3rd highest rate of prescription drug abuse and a firearm mortality rate which is 10th highest nationally. Then there is our governor who seems committed to creating a religious autocracy which includes replacing public schools with for-profit charter schools having a specifically “Christian” curriculum. Obviously, there are ample reasons for why Tennessee needs a “changing of the guard.”
Early voting runs from October 19 through November 3rd. Election Day is November 8th. Vote as if your life depended on it. It very well may.