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Author: Heather Cox Richardson

One-Party Rule: Why Republicans oppose the foundation of democracy and the freedom to vote

Republicans say they oppose the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act because it is an attempt on the part of Democrats to win elections in the future by “nationalizing” them, taking away the right of states to arrange their laws as they wish. Voting rights legislation is a “partisan power grab,” Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) insists. In fact, there is no constitutional ground for opposing the idea of Congress weighing in on federal elections. The U.S. Constitution establishes that “[t]he Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by...

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Voting for voter suppression: Why Republicans are unwilling to support common-sense Voting Rights

The struggle between the Trump-backed forces of authoritarianism and those of us defending democracy is coming down to the fight over whether the Democrats can get the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act through the Senate. It is worth reading what is actually in the bills because, to my mind, it is bananas that they are in any way controversial. The Freedom to Vote Act is a trimmed version of the For the People Act the House passed at the beginning of this congressional session. It establishes a baseline for access to the ballot...

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Power over Principle: The day when Americans lost faith in America

Just before sunrise on a November day in 1861, Massachusetts abolitionist Julia Ward Howe woke up in the Willard Hotel in Washington DC. She got out of bed, found a pen, and began to write about the struggle in which the country was engaged: could any nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” survive, or would such a nation inevitably descend into hierarchies and minority rule? Howe had faith in America. “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,” she wrote in the gray dawn. “He is...

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Democracy is not a state: It is an act that requires each generation to do its part

On January 6, insurrectionists trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election stormed the U.S. Capitol and sent our lawmakers into hiding. Since President Joe Biden took office on January 20, just two weeks after the attack, we have been engaged in a great struggle between those trying to restore our democracy and those determined to undermine it. Biden committed to restoring our democracy after the strains it had endured. When he took office, we were in the midst of a global pandemic whose official death toll in the U.S. was at 407,000. Our economy was in...

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Year In Review 2021: When the party of Abraham Lincoln became the party of Jefferson Davis

2021 began a second year with the deadly coronavirus pandemic, and the near collapse of American Democracy. Even with a vaccination for COVID-19, much of the turbulence from 2020 continued because of weaponized politics. That social trauma aggravated the public health crisis, and the economy’s struggle to recover. While the year did not present the same risks of physical injury for journalism as the previous, the editorial staff of Milwaukee Independent experienced many difficult challenges in the process of reporting the news and preserving those conditions with images. The Year In Review (YIR) series has evolved from a simple...

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The Original American Crisis: When George Washington fought for human self-determination on Christmas

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” These were the first lines in a pamphlet called The American Crisis that appeared in Philadelphia on December 19, 1776, at a time when the fortunes of the American patriots seemed at an all-time low. Just five months before, the members of the Second Continental Congress had adopted the Declaration of Independence, explaining to the world that...

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