The Fight for Voting Rights Is The Fight For Our Democracy

The Fight for Voting Rights Is The Fight For Our Democracy

July 7, 2021By Hillary Rodham Clinton

When Democrats in the Texas Legislature walked out of the capitol in May to stop a suite of anti-democratic voting laws, they cast a spotlight on a crisis that extends far beyond the Lone Star State. Since the 2020 election with its historic turnout, lawmakers across the country have introduced nearly 400 bills making it harder to vote: purging voters from the rolls, making it more difficult to register, cutting back on early and absentee voting, getting rid of ballot drop boxes, even banning giving out food or water to people waiting in line at the polls.  

Each of these proposals disproportionately prevents people of color from casting their ballots, and each is egregious in its own right.  (They also pose a question: If your best strategy for winning elections is to block huge swaths of the electorate from voting, what does that say about the strength of your candidates and policies?) Combined, they add up to an even bigger problem – one that encompasses redistricting, Trump’s “Big Lie” and the anti-majoritarianism we’re seeing from today’s Republican Party. We are witnessing a concerted attempt to destabilize the democratic process and delegitimize our multi-racial democracy, carried out in full view of the American people. As Democrats, it’s not enough to push back one law, one court case or even one election at a time. We need to fundamentally change the way we think about and fight back against this blatant, sweeping effort.

The fight to ensure that every citizen can vote and have their vote counted has long been the defining struggle of our country. This historical thread runs from the Civil War to the Thirteenth and 19th Amendments to the Civil Rights Movement. The Voting Rights Act, and the laws interpreting it, have been at the core of much of the progress we’ve made since its passage – a view that, until recently, was shared by Democrats and Republicans. I was in the U.S. Senate when we voted 98-0 to extend this landmark piece of legislation. We sifted through thousands of pages of evidence and heard hundreds of hours of testimony that showed just how desperately the Voting Rights Act was still needed. After our unanimous vote, the law was signed by a Republican president, George W. Bush.  

It’s heartbreaking and unacceptable that we once again find ourselves fighting the battles of the last two centuries. Today’s voting restrictions are no different from the Jim Crow past, replacing literacy tests and poll taxes with laws that, as one North Carolina judge put it in 2016, “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” Much of the blame for this backsliding rests with the Supreme Court, which, thanks to the election of President Trump, is even more hostile to voting rights today than it was when it gutted a crucial provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. But the problem is more insidious.  

Thirty years ago, Republican operative Thomas Hofeller said, “I define redistricting as the only legalized form of vote-stealing left in the United States today.” He became the primary architect of Republicans’ gerrymandering strategy, collecting data on race and voting behavior, then drawing statehouse maps tailor-made to dilute the influence of Black voters. Groups like the Federalist Society have worked for years to pack the courts with judges more committed to appeasing powerful special interests than to championing the fundamental rights of the American people. The emboldening of white supremacists and conspiracy theorists during Trump’s campaign and time in the White House along with the international movement against liberal democracy have exacerbated this perfect storm. 

All of this has made it harder to vote, particularly for specific groups: people of color, students, the elderly and low-income Americans. This kind of disparity does not happen by accident. It reminds me of one of my favorite sayings from Arkansas: “You find a turtle on a fence post, it did not get there on its own.” It’s no coincidence that the restrictive voting laws passed by Republicans target people who are more likely to vote for Democrats.  

Voting rights should not be controversial – and for the majority of Americans, they aren’t. Yet we have members of Congress who are wildly out of the mainstream, who vote to overturn the results of an election, and who use their powerful platforms to spread lies and disinformation.  As a result, nearly two-thirds of Republicans now incorrectly believe President Biden was not legitimately elected.  They point to debunked claims of voter fraud, discounting the votes of millions of Americans, including 87% of Black voters.  

What happened on January 6th showed that these fanatical ideas can lead to real, even deadly harm. After the insurrection, I wrote about the failure of imagination that hindered our ability to prevent the violence in Washington. I quoted historian Taylor Branch, who asked in Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste:” “If people were given the choice between democracy and whiteness, how many would choose whiteness?” The months that followed revealed the ugly truth of just how many elected officials in America would choose whiteness. 

In this pivotal moment for our democracy, people in every corner of our country are rightfully asking: “What can we do?”  The answer isn’t an easy one, because there is no one step that will solve this deep-seated problem. Passing laws like H.R. 1 (the For the People Act) and H.R. 4 (the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act) that make it easier to vote is an excellent start, but we can’t stop there. We need to call these attacks on voting what they are: part of a clear attempt to move away from a pluralistic, multi-racial democracy and toward white supremacist authoritarianism. We need to remain laser-focused on what’s at stake for democracy and people’s lives and refuse to allow Republicans to draw us into piecemeal fights over tactics and technicalities. Voters should have the ability – not just in principle, but in practice – to hold elected officials accountable in the voting booth. We should be doing everything we can to make it easier for eligible voters to cast their ballots.

When the people make their voices heard in an election, we should respect the results. These aren’t partisan statements; they’re attributes of a functioning democracy. Now is the time for anyone who cares about ours to stand up and fight for it using absolutely every tool in our toolbox: legislation, marching and protesting, speaking up, supporting people and groups advocating for a democracy that reflects the diversity of this country, and, yes, showing up to the polls at every election, not just the presidential ones. Democracies the world over have faced this challenge; how we respond will have a ripple effect around the globe.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is a former First Lady of the United States, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State. She is a bestselling author, podcast host, and the first woman to receive a major party’s nomination for President of the United States. 

TEACHING AMERICAN HISTORY

NC Social Studies Standards 2021              Standards Development Process

Social Studies Curriculum 2021

The preamble, written by NC Superintendent of Public Instruction, Catherine Truitt, states that “the standards are a framework intended to teach the full spectrum of history to best help students learn and use the information they acquire in the course of learning experiences. However, it is important to remember that history itself doesn’t provide the sole explanation for why we have injustices, racism, and discrimination today, be they institutionalized or localized. Our human failings have at times taken the form of racism, xenophobia, nativism, extremism, and isolationism. We need to study history in order to understand how these situations developed, the harmful impact they caused, and the forces and actors that sometimes helped us move beyond these outcomes.”

3rd Grade SS Standards relating to race and history

3.B.1 Understand how values and beliefs of individuals and groups influence communities.

3.B.1.1 Explain how the values, beliefs, and cultures of various indigenous, religious, racial and other groups contribute to the development of local communities and the state.

3.B.1.2 Compare values, beliefs, cultural practices and traditions of various groups living in local and regional communities.

3.H.1 Understand how various people and historical events have shaped local communities.

3.H.1.1 Explain how the experiences and achievements of women, indigenous, religious, and racial groups have contributed to the development of the local community.

3.H.1.2 Explain the lasting impact historical events have had on local communities.

3.H.1.3 Use primary and secondary sources to compare multiple interpretations of various historical symbols and events in local communities.

High School American History 1 Standards  relating to race and history

AH.B.1 Evaluate American identity in terms of perspective, change, and continuity.

AH.B.1.1 Critique multiple perspectives of American identity in terms of American exceptionalism. AH.B.1.2 Critique multiple perspectives of American identity in terms of opportunity, prosperity, and crisis.

AH.B.1.3 Critique multiple perspectives of American identity in terms of oppression, stereotypes, diversity, inclusion, and exclusion.

AH.B.1.4 Critique multiple perspectives of American identity in terms of individualism and conformity. AH.B.1.5 Explain how various immigrant experiences have influenced American identity.

AH.B.1.6 Explain how the experiences and achievements of minorities and marginalized peoples have contributed to American identity over time in terms of the struggle against bias, racism, oppression, and discrimination.

AH.B.1.7 Explain how slavery, xenophobia, disenfranchisement, and intolerance have affected individual and group perspectives of themselves as Americans.

AH.C&G.1 Evaluate the relationship between the American people and the government in terms of freedom, equality, and power.

AH.C&G.1.1 Explain how various views on freedom and equality contributed to the development of American political thought and system of government.

AH.C&G.1.2 Critique the extent to which various levels of government used power to expand or restrict the freedom and equality of American people.

AH.C&G.1.3 Explain how various individuals and groups strategized, organized, advocated and protested to expand or restrict freedom and equality.

AH.C&G.1.4 Explain how racism, oppression, and discrimination of indigenous peoples, racial minorities, and other marginalized groups have impacted equality and power in America

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a <college level> academic discipline that examines how American racism has shaped law and public policy. CRT emerged in the legal academy in the 1980 as an offshoot of critical legal studies. (NC Policy Watch) CRT is not currently in NC Curriculum Standards. People who are upset about CRT claim that teaching American History will cause their children to hate America, themselves and each other. No teacher is teaching that. Once a student learns the facts about history s/he could very well decide to make our country a better place to live.

The best way to ”ensure dignity and nondiscrimination” of all is to examine our history, learn from it and make the future better, not by banning the teaching of the effects of our history on discriminatory practices today.  HB324 is designed to ensure dignity and nondiscrimination of white students. It is racist. Does the NCGA care that minority students have had their dignity taken away and have been discriminated against for hundreds of years?

Critical Race Theory explained in 5 minutes

HB324 bans the teaching of these 7 concepts:

  • One race or sex is inherently superior
  • An individual, because of their race or sex, inherently has conscious or unconscious biases that are racist, sexist or oppressive
  • An individual should be discriminated against or receive unfair treatment
  • An individual’s morality is determined by their race or sex
  • An individual, solely because of their race or sex, must be responsible for actions committed by prior generations of that same race or sex
  • Any individual, solely because of their race or sex, should feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress”
  • The belief that the U.S. is a meritocracy is an inherently racist or sexist belief, or that the U.S. was created by members of a particular race or sex for the purpose of oppressing members of another race or sex.

WHY IS CRITICAL RACE THEORY RELEVANT TODAY?          

In a perfect world, educational equity would ensure that all students have access to high-quality curriculum, instruction and funding. But we don’t live in a perfect world, so racial inequality manifests in a number of ways in American education. For example:

CRT PROVIDES A RELEVANT, RESEARCH-BASED FRAMEWORK THROUGH WHICH EDUCATION LEADERS AND POLICYMAKERS CAN THINK ABOUT THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCT OF RACE AND THE IMPACT OF RACISM ON STUDENTS OF COLOR.          Education Post

WHY ARE SOME STATES OUTLAWING CRITICAL RACE THEORY IN SCHOOLS?        

Even though CRT itself is not a topic in most K-12 curricula, some legislators and elected officials have referenced it in connection with any lesson or training that acknowledges racially oppressive practices as districts around the country have started to embrace the idea that Black, Latinx and Indigenous students will do better in school if the systems around them change.

This has led to some challenging new practices in our schools and classrooms, such as:

For school systems that have operated the same way for decades, these are big changes. There are some who would like to see less change, and believe that the steps above are forcing a new worldview on their kids—even calling it “indoctrination.” In Idaho, Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee, for instance, state governments are acting out of direct concern that critical race theory is at the root of these changes.

And about that, they might be right. They needn’t worry that grade-schoolers will start reading legal texts and academic monographs, but the critical race theory movement certainly has played a huge role in the broader reexamination of our society through the lens of race and racial oppression. And schools are a big part of that.                Education Post

PW special report: The right’s coordinated assault on Critical Race Theory in North Carolina

This report details the attack by conservatives, including Republican State Superintendent Cathy Truitt, who “ told a group of Republicans in Orange County this month that she will do everything in her power to “eradicate” CRT from the state’s public schools.”

Request for Proclamation Against HB 324 | by Min. Paul Scott | May, 2021 | Medium

Durham School Board to Support Critical Race Theory 6/24 | by Min. Paul Scott | Jun, 2021 | Medium

HB 324 Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools

Durham school board opposes bill they say would limit teaching about race, sex biases

State GOP leaders decry Durham City Council’s support of critical race theory

NC State Board of Education approves new guidance for how students will learn about history, race :: WRAL.com  A bill in the North Carolina legislature, related to school COVID-19 provisions, seeks to delay implementation of the standards by a year. It passed the House but not the Senate and is being re-worked in committee.


TEACHING AMERICAN HISTORY

NC Social Studies Standards 2021              Standards Development Process

Social Studies Curriculum 2021

The preamble, written by NC Superintendent of Public Instruction, Catherine Truitt, states that “the standards are a framework intended to teach the full spectrum of history to best help students learn and use the information they acquire in the course of learning experiences. However, it is important to remember that history itself doesn’t provide the sole explanation for why we have injustices, racism, and discrimination today, be they institutionalized or localized. Our human failings have at times taken the form of racism, xenophobia, nativism, extremism, and isolationism. We need to study history in order to understand how these situations developed, the harmful impact they caused, and the forces and actors that sometimes helped us move beyond these outcomes.”

3rd Grade SS Standards relating to race and history

3.B.1 Understand how values and beliefs of individuals and groups influence communities.

3.B.1.1 Explain how the values, beliefs, and cultures of various indigenous, religious, racial and other groups contribute to the development of local communities and the state.

3.B.1.2 Compare values, beliefs, cultural practices and traditions of various groups living in local and regional communities.

3.H.1 Understand how various people and historical events have shaped local communities.

3.H.1.1 Explain how the experiences and achievements of women, indigenous, religious, and racial groups have contributed to the development of the local community.

3.H.1.2 Explain the lasting impact historical events have had on local communities.

3.H.1.3 Use primary and secondary sources to compare multiple interpretations of various historical symbols and events in local communities.

High School American History 1 Standards  relating to race and history

AH.B.1 Evaluate American identity in terms of perspective, change, and continuity.

AH.B.1.1 Critique multiple perspectives of American identity in terms of American exceptionalism. AH.B.1.2 Critique multiple perspectives of American identity in terms of opportunity, prosperity, and crisis.

AH.B.1.3 Critique multiple perspectives of American identity in terms of oppression, stereotypes, diversity, inclusion, and exclusion.

AH.B.1.4 Critique multiple perspectives of American identity in terms of individualism and conformity. AH.B.1.5 Explain how various immigrant experiences have influenced American identity.

AH.B.1.6 Explain how the experiences and achievements of minorities and marginalized peoples have contributed to American identity over time in terms of the struggle against bias, racism, oppression, and discrimination.

AH.B.1.7 Explain how slavery, xenophobia, disenfranchisement, and intolerance have affected individual and group perspectives of themselves as Americans.

AH.C&G.1 Evaluate the relationship between the American people and the government in terms of freedom, equality, and power.

AH.C&G.1.1 Explain how various views on freedom and equality contributed to the development of American political thought and system of government.

AH.C&G.1.2 Critique the extent to which various levels of government used power to expand or restrict the freedom and equality of American people.

AH.C&G.1.3 Explain how various individuals and groups strategized, organized, advocated and protested to expand or restrict freedom and equality.

AH.C&G.1.4 Explain how racism, oppression, and discrimination of indigenous peoples, racial minorities, and other marginalized groups have impacted equality and power in America

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is <a college level> academic discipline that examines how American racism has shaped law and public policy. CRT emerged in the legal academy in the 1980 as an offshoot of critical legal studies. (NC Policy Watch) CRT is not currently in NC Curriculum Standards. People who are upset about CRT claim that teaching American History will cause their children to hate America, themselves and each other. No teacher is teaching that. Once a student learns the facts about history s/he could very well decide to make our country a better place to live.

The best way to ”ensure dignity and nondiscrimination” of all is to examine our history, learn from it and make the future better, not by banning the teaching of the effects of our history on discriminatory practices today.  HB324 is designed to ensure dignity and nondiscrimination of white students. It is racist. Does the NCGA care that minority students have had their dignity taken away and have been discriminated against for hundreds of years?

Critical Race Theory explained in 5 minutes

HB324 bans the teaching of these 7 concepts:

  • One race or sex is inherently superior
  • An individual, because of their race or sex, inherently has conscious or unconscious biases that are racist, sexist or oppressive
  • An individual should be discriminated against or receive unfair treatment
  • An individual’s morality is determined by their race or sex
  • An individual, solely because of their race or sex, must be responsible for actions committed by prior generations of that same race or sex
  • Any individual, solely because of their race or sex, should feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress”
  • The belief that the U.S. is a meritocracy is an inherently racist or sexist belief, or that the U.S. was created by members of a particular race or sex for the purpose of oppressing members of another race or sex[1] [2] 

WHY IS CRITICAL RACE THEORY RELEVANT TODAY?          

In a perfect world, educational equity would ensure that all students have access to high-quality curriculum, instruction and funding. But we don’t live in a perfect world, so racial inequality manifests in a number of ways in American education. For example:

CRT PROVIDES A RELEVANT, RESEARCH-BASED FRAMEWORK THROUGH WHICH EDUCATION LEADERS AND POLICYMAKERS CAN THINK ABOUT THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCT OF RACE AND THE IMPACT OF RACISM ON STUDENTS OF COLOR.          Education Post

WHY ARE SOME STATES OUTLAWING CRITICAL RACE THEORY IN SCHOOLS?        

Even though CRT itself is not a topic in most K-12 curricula, some legislators and elected officials have referenced it in connection with any lesson or training that acknowledges racially oppressive practices as districts around the country have started to embrace the idea that Black, Latinx and Indigenous students will do better in school if the systems around them change.

This has led to some challenging new practices in our schools and classrooms, such as:

For school systems that have operated the same way for decades, these are big changes. There are some who would like to see less change, and believe that the steps above are forcing a new worldview on their kids—even calling it “indoctrination.” In Idaho, Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee, for instance, state governments are acting out of direct concern that critical race theory is at the root of these changes.

And about that, they might be right. They needn’t worry that grade-schoolers will start reading legal texts and academic monographs, but the critical race theory movement certainly has played a huge role in the broader reexamination of our society through the lens of race and racial oppression. And schools are a big part of that.                Education Post

PW special report: The right’s coordinated assault on Critical Race Theory in North Carolina

This report details the attack by conservatives, including Republican State Superintendent Cathy Truitt, who “ told a group of Republicans in Orange County this month that she will do everything in her power to “eradicate” CRT from the state’s public schools.”

Request for Proclamation Against HB 324 | by Min. Paul Scott | May, 2021 | Medium

Durham School Board to Support Critical Race Theory 6/24 | by Min. Paul Scott | Jun, 2021 | Medium

HB 324 Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools

Durham school board opposes bill they say would limit teaching about race, sex biases

State GOP leaders decry Durham City Council’s support of critical race theory

NC State Board of Education approves new guidance for how students will learn about history, race :: WRAL.com  A bill in the North Carolina legislature, related to school COVID-19 provisions, seeks to delay implementation of the standards by a year. It passed the House but not the Senate and is being re-worked in committee.