In the early hours of January 7, 2020, Capitol Hill Police Officer Harry Dunn sank to the floor, quietly sobbing, in the wreckage left behind by rioters the evening before. “Is this America?” he asked a fellow officer.
Later, from testimony before the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 attack: In an attempt to reason with the MAGA crowd eager to prevent the 2020 election from being certified, Dunn revealed he voted for Joe Biden. “Does my vote not count? Am I nobody?” The crowd snarled racial slurs in response. “You hear that, guys, this n___er voted for Joe Biden” one woman shouted. “F___ing n___er,” the crowd screamed. (As reported in the Daily Beast, 7/7/21)
Yes, this is America, Officer Dunn. And for nearly a century after Black Americans were granted the right to vote by the Fifteenth Amendment, your vote--if you were even allowed to cast it--did not count. In 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act and for the first time, many Black Americans could freely vote and they knew their voices counted.
Because of the Act, states that had a history of prejudicial voting policies had to submit any voting law changes to the courts before enacting restrictions. The courts stood guard over the rights of all Americans to vote freely and fairly. A significant weakening of this Act was approved by the Supreme Court in 2013--no longer would certain states need to submit their voting procedure changes; it was up to disenfranchised voters to sue for their voting rights case by case. Much more costly and difficult.
And now in 2021 over 200 voting regulations have been passed in nine states that attempt to limit certain citizens--urban minorities and elderly, students, relocating and homeless citizens--from exercising their most important right to vote. “Some people don’t want some people to vote,” the saying goes.
The 2020 election produced the largest American voter participation on record with, many recounts and audits have now determined, the most legitimate outcomes. The pandemic may have caused this greater involvement. Not only were citizens tuned in and ready to speak out, they also could receive their ballots by mail in most states, for the first time. No standing in line for hours, waiting, in many urban precincts, and the ballots poured in! Many states had not changed their counting procedures to keep up with the adjustments caused by pandemic voting. So the mailed-in and dropped off ballots were counted last, changing the nature of the totals into the days after the election. It took until Saturday to finally confidently call this close contest--Joe Biden won, by over 7 million votes. Trump had darkly predicted that mail-in voting “doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”
In normal times, the loser, Donald Trump, would concede, making a congratulatory call to the President-elect. These are not normal times. Trump has still not conceded; he and his advisors used the months after the election to challenge the results in six battleground states, filing case after case in the courts, unsuccessfully attempting to flip the results. Trump even phoned the Georgia Secretary of State, begging him to find an additional 11,780 votes that would overturn the results. Actually this kind of election interference is illegal, in Georgia and the United States.
But why would flipping the votes in Georgia help--Trump needed more states to flip? And that was the plan. When all court attempts failed, when all this coordinated pressuring of state election officials produced no new counts, the final plan--the Green Bay Sweep, hatched by Peter Navarro, Steve Bannon and Trump--was put into action. As described by Trump Trade Advisor Navarro, key supporters in the House and Senate would object to the certification of certain electoral votes--from the six battleground states--thereby preventing the final count by then Vice President Pence, hopefully stalling the process and moving the decision to the House. All the plan required was “peace and calm on Capitol Hill,” Navarro said. (Reported in The Week,1/4/22)
So it seems the January 6th insurrectionists spoiled the day for the actual coup plotters--many constitutional scholars have weighed in on the legality of Trump’s plan and determined the Green Bay Sweep was in violation of constitutional directives regarding electoral vote counts. But the issue would have gone all the way to “Trump’s” Supreme Court. It’s inconceivable that we should thank the brutal insurrectionists for saving the day, for preventing a complete break down of the electoral count process in Congress. But maybe they did.
Last week we watched footage of the Capitol attack; we heard emotional accounts of the terror inside the halls of Congress; we heard that the Vice President-elect was evacuated from Democratic Headquarters because of a viable pipe bomb--we remembered how we almost lost our democracy as white supremacists and enraged Trump supporters threatened to hang our Vice President and kill the Speaker of the House. Thankfully brave officers and finally the National Guard quelled the unrest.
That left Officer Dunn in the desecrated rotunda, wondering why his vote shouldn’t count. Why should he have the N-word hurled at him repeatedly as he bravely fought to do his duty for our county? Maybe the more hidden coup, the Green Bay Sweep, is the answer, the real story here. When the losing side in a two-party system refuses to lose, when our tax dollars pay federal officials to figure out ways to subvert an election to thereby remain in power, OUR DEMOCRACY IS IN PERIL. We must fight to ensure every vote is counted and no state in our union is allowed to overturn the will of its people. Congress will consider two Voting Rights bills in the coming weeks; call your Congress people, insist they act now to protect our votes.