Column: Observance Of Martin Luther King Day

January 17, 2022

[Written by Glenn Fubler]

It is ironic that the observance of MLK Day 2022 is being characterized as a time for grave reflection. This, because over the past year, some 19 State Legislatures [Republican strongholds] have passed legislation that is geared to curtail the right to vote, especially for non-white and working people. This is part of a campaign to turn back the clock in an effort to undermine democracy in the land of the free.

It happens that this holiday weekend, marking the significance of the blood, sweat, and tears shed to foster true democracy in the United States of America, is proving to be pivotal.

In response to the sabotage of the right to vote, the House of Representatives has passed two pieces of legislation attempting to secure democratic gains: The For the People Bill and the John Lewis Voting Rights Bill. These pieces of legislation are aimed to address such matters as campaign financing; gerrymandering of electoral districts; accessibility to vote; etc.

An example of the voter suppression efforts which took place in the lead-up to the 2020 U.S. General Election was when the Trump-supporting Governor of Texas mandated changes for early voting, resulting in only one drop-box per Texas city/town; be it the several million of Dallas or small town of a few hundred people. Of course, there was also the shenanigans with the U.S. postal system undermining vote by mail.

Those two Congressional bills must now be considered by the Senate and President Biden has urged that the importance of the matter requires a waiver of the use of the filibuster. This parliamentary tactic – when used – mandates that matters must be decided by the support of 60 Senators, rather than a simple majority. However, two Democratic Senators – Manchin and Sinema – have announced that will not support this progressive step.

This stalemate has a history. When the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 was considered in the Senate – legislation, the product of the painful efforts against the brutal terror of police dogs, fire hoses and church and homes bombings – it was sabotaged by segregation-supporting Senators. Of course, today’s politicians of that ilk are slicker; they will simply rely on the tradition of the filibuster.

In response to the situation, Martin Luther King’s daughter Bernice King, on Friday afternoon, tweeted a quote from her father, which he made during the battle in 1964. MLK, in commenting on the machinations taking place in the Senate at that time, said, “I think the tragedy is that we have a Congress with a Senate that has a minority of misguided Senators who will use the filibuster to keep the majority of people from voting.”

Bernice has called on the American people to use this holiday weekend to consider the implications of this matter of protecting their country from an erosion of democracy.

Here in Bermuda, we could argue that this is none of our business. However, given the global implications of whatever happens in the U.S., we would do well to offer our thoughts and prayers to our neighbours, trusting that they give mindful consideration to this matter of importance to the whole planet.

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