Jan. 14 – To the Editor:
We are in the midst of a history defining moment. Our American democracy, the greatest democracy in the world, is cracking.
Throughout our nation's history we haven’t been perfect – far from it – but, as Dr. Martin Luther King famously said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” We continuously strive to bend that moral arc and live up to the ideals that our nation was founded on: life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness - and truly apply those ideals to everyone. That is the core of what our democracy is all about.
But, over the past few years we have seen the state of our democracy be threatened.
A year ago, on Jan. 6, 2021, Republicans in office betrayed America by inciting armed militants to attack our Capitol and attempt to literally overthrow our democracy. No matter our color, background or party, most of us believe that people who commit treason against our nation and endanger our lives must be stopped. But a year later, the insurrection has not stopped. Many have avoided justice and we continue to witness the results of deep, toxic polarization - but this time it’s not only in Washington D.C. - it’s in State Houses around the country including right here in New Hampshire.
As we reflect on the anniversary of one of the darkest days in our history, we contemplate a feeling of existential dread about the future of our democracy. But we cannot sit idly by and watch our democracy falter. We are full of resolve to do whatever is necessary to strengthen democracy in our own backyard to protect our future. This work is more urgent than ever.
There is a deliberate disinformation campaign to undermine faith in our elections and corrupt our fragile democracy to allow corrupt politicians to stay in power. That means attacks on our constitutional freedom to vote, rigged gerrymandered maps, and radical election subversion bills to control election outcomes including criminalizing election officials for doing their jobs and giving partisan poll watchers the ability to harass and intimidate voters. Why? To hold onto power.
This moment demands action to restore faith in our democracy. New Hampshire takes its civic duty too seriously not to set the example across the country as a beacon of how our democracy should work. The fight for democracy is the fight of our generation. Young elected leaders in the State House are filing bills to expand the freedom to vote and are fighting back against Big Lie conspiracy theories which seek to restrict access to the ballot box. Young elected leaders in city and town halls across the state are working to ensure local elections are protected and their constituents know their rights. And a record number of young people are stepping up to serve in these local and state offices. They know our generation's future is on the line.
The path toward a better future for all Americans and Granite Staters - regardless of their party - is with free and fair elections where our vote, our voice, our power, is what decides elections, not politicians. That means passing the historic Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act at the federal level which will create national standards that protect our rights, ensure that trusted local election officials count every vote, stop corrupt gerrymandered maps, end the power of dark money and billionaires in campaigns, and prevent partisan politicians from sabotaging the results of our elections.
The disturbing reality we all must come to terms with is that certain New Hampshire Republicans are waging a war against our state - weaponizing lies about vaccines and elections, inciting right wing violence, and attacking our freedom to vote, our kids' freedom to learn, and our freedom to thrive so they can rule only for the wealthy and powerful few. But we know there’s a better future. A future we’re fighting for where we continue to fight for the unrealized values of equality and justice for all.
On Monday, we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. We honor the legacy of a man and movement which fought for a democracy where all voices are valued equally. We have a lot of work to do to continue to bend the moral arc towards justice, but our generation will continue the fight and it starts with standing up for our democracy.
Senator Rebecca Perkins Kwoka, District 21; Senator Rebecca Whitley, District 15; Assistant Mayor Joanna Kelley, Portsmouth; Rep. Matt Wilhelm, Manchester; Rep. Manny Espitia, Nashua; City Councilor Matt Gerding, Somersworth; City Councilor Matt Mooshian, Claremont
This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Commentary: The fight of our generation