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Shaw: Our democracy is under siege

Shaw writes, "Some recent votes in Congress remind us that democracy is very much under siege. Those votes dealt with voting rights and the alarming Jan. 6 attack."

Jim Shaw
Jim Shaw
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If our democracy falls apart, it won’t be in one fell swoop. It will be piece-by-piece. Some recent votes in Congress remind us that democracy is very much under siege. Those votes dealt with voting rights and the alarming Jan. 6 attack.

North Dakota Republican Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, along with their fellow Republican senators, shamefully voted to block the Freedom to Vote Act. This legislation is necessary because of the dozens of voter suppression laws passed in red states that target people of color, low income people and students by making it harder for them to vote. Motivated by the Big Lie, those laws purge voter rolls, make it harder to vote by mail, reduce polling hours, locations and drop boxes and shorten early voting periods.

The Freedom to Vote Act would make Election Day a national holiday, expand voter registration and make it simple to vote early or by mail. In other words, make it easier to vote.

In voting against a previous voting rights bill, Cramer said, it’s an “effort to fundamentally change our election laws in order to keep their party in power.” Actually, the voter suppression laws are designed to keep Republicans in power.

In voting against a similar voting rights bill, Hoeven said, “I don’t believe North Dakotans want the federal government to determine how we conduct our elections.” Actually, that’s exactly what the federal government should do. When African Americans in the south were prevented from voting, it took Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which allowed them to vote. Now that red states are using Jim Crow type tactics again, Congress must once again take action that allows every eligible American to be able to vote without roadblocks.

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Equally troubling is that almost all House Republicans voted against holding Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress. Bannon and Meadows have refused to abide by subpoenas from the select committee that’s investigating the January 6 insurrection attempt. Those disgracefully voting against holding Bannon and Meadows in contempt include North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong and Minnesota Rep. Michelle Fischbach.

Armstrong incredibly called the congressional action against Bannon “premature.” How is it premature? Congress has the legal right to issue subpoenas. People who don’t show up and defy subpoenas are breaking the law. So, the so-called “law and order party” is protecting lawbreakers.

In opposing the contempt vote against Meadows, Fischbach shamefully said the January 6 committee has a “partisan agenda” and is an “attempt to distract from very real issues.” Sorry Rep. Fischbach, but violently trying to overturn our election results is a very real issue.

It used to be that all members of Congress supported their own body. In 1983, Congress unanimously voted to hold Rita Lavelle, from the Environmental Protection Agency, in contempt of Congress for failing to appear and testify after her subpoena.

Now, in trying to protect Bannon and Meadows, Republicans are downplaying the horrific attack and coup attempt on Jan. 6, while sucking up to Donald Trump. It’s reprehensible.

Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

Opinion by Jim Shaw
InForum columnist Jim Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director.
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