More Than 100 Scholars Issue Warning That American Democracy Is In Danger, Call For Federal Reforms – Forbes
More than a hundred scholars issue a statement calling on members of Congress to do whatever is … [+]
A statement signed by more than 100 scholars on Tuesday warns that as a result of Republican-led states proposing or implementing “radical changes” to election laws, the voting procedures in several states are being transformed into “political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections.” The statement includes this dire prediction: “our entire democracy is now at risk”
Appearing on the website of the Washington, D.C.-based think tank New America, the statement, entitled Statement of Concern: The Threats to American Democracy and the Need for National Voting and Election Administration Standards, can be read in its entirety here.
Referring to themselves as “scholars of democracy,” the signatories include leading professors of political science, government, communications and history at many of the nation’s most prominent universities and colleges. As of mid-afternoon today, more than 100 individuals had signed onto the statement, but additional signatures were expected to be added.
Claiming that “statutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration,” the statement identified several actions recently put in place by Republican-controlled legislatures that undermine fundamental democratic principles, including:
The statement directly blames “many Republican officials, led by former President Donald Trump” of manufacturing false claims of election fraud “that have been repeatedly rejected by courts of law.”
And it warns that “laws politicizing the administration and certification of elections could enable some state legislatures or partisan election officials to do what they failed to do in 2020: reverse the outcome of a free and fair election.” It singles out “anti-democratic laws adopted (or approaching adoption) in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Montana and Texas.”
After condemning “these actions in the strongest possible terms as a betrayal of our precious democratic heritage, the statement calls for “federal action to protect equal access of all citizens to the ballot and to guarantee free and fair elections.” And it argues that a voting rights law like the proposed John Lewis Voting Rights Act “is essential but alone is not enough.”
Therefore, the statement concludes, what is needed is “a comprehensive set of national standards that ensure the sanctity and independence of election administration, guarantee that all voters can freely exercise their right to vote, prevent partisan gerrymandering from giving dominant parties in the states an unfair advantage in the process of drawing congressional districts, and regulate ethics and money in politics.”
Acknowledging that “it is always far better for major democracy reforms to be bipartisan,” the statement claims that there is little reason to believe, given recent history, that such bipartisan support is likely.
Instead, it calls on “members of Congress to do whatever is necessary—including suspending the filibuster—in order to pass national voting and election administration standards that both guarantee the vote to all Americans equally, and prevent state legislatures from manipulating the rules in order to manufacture the result they want. Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment.”
Faculty signing the statement represented leading private and public colleges, including many from states that voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Every Ivy League university was represented, as were such esteemed institutions as Stanford, Duke, Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame. But the sharpest attention will surely be drawn to those signatories employed at state universities in red states such as Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
The statement expresses unusually hard-hitting sentiments for a group of scholars, who typically prefer to couch their opinions in the cautious language of academia. Not this time. Today’s statement points fingers and pulls no punches. It’s a powerful example of the academy stepping up and speaking out.
I am president emeritus of Missouri State University. After earning my B.A. from Wheaton College (Illinois), I was awarded a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the
I am president emeritus of Missouri State University. After earning my B.A. from Wheaton College (Illinois), I was awarded a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Illinois in 1973. I then joined the faculty at the University of Kentucky, where I progressed through the professorial ranks and served as director of the Clinical Psychology Program, chair of the department of psychology, dean of the graduate school, and provost. In 2005, I was appointed president of Missouri State University. Following retirement from Missouri State in 2011, I became senior policy advisor to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. Recently, I have authored two books: Degrees and Pedigrees: The Education of America’s Top Executives (2017) and Coming to Grips With Higher Education (2018), both published by Rowman & Littlefield.