Votes that matter

November 8, 2022

From the November-December 2022 issue of News & Letters

Detroit—The election of 2020 gave a giant push for the Right to turn elections into weapons for abrogating rights and freedoms, especially those of women and minorities. It is a primrose path to outright fascism.

They have usurped all aspects of the electoral process, coupled with distortions and blatant lies. Trump lost the election, but his agenda lives on in thousands of contests for school and library boards, state legislatures and judicial seats all over the U.S.


Proposal 2, or “Promote the Vote 2022”—for a constitutional amendment that protects the fundamental right to vote—required a decision by the Michigan Supreme Court to appear on the ballot after the Republican-controlled Legislature had attempted to block it. The Legislature had tried to pass 39 bills since 2020 to roll back improved voting access in the state.

Catholic bishops in Michigan launched their “Fight Like Heaven” campaign with letters to 243,000 registered parishioners ahead of “Respect Life” Sunday, Oct. 2. Disguised as “a grassroots coalition,” their Citizens to Support MI Women and Children has thousands of volunteers canvassing voters to reject Proposal 3, “Reproductive Freedom for All.” So intense is the push from the pulpit that, at one Detroit church, some women have stopped going to mass until after the November election!

HB 1893 in the Illinois Legislature would rescind the 2021 Reproductive Health Act. It criminalizes abortion after a “fetal heartbeat” is detectable—there is no heart at six weeks, only sporadic electrical impulses. One would need a microscope to see what might develop into a fetus.


In Dearborn, Mich., 800 people attended a meeting when right-wing Muslims and Christians united to force the Dearborn School Board to ban all school library books on LGBTQ+ topics, shouting down those who disagreed.

These are examples of why the war for democracy is not limited to elections. Underlying that war is both recognizing that “democracy” alone is not revolutionary, and realizing that the right wing is relentless in fighting against freedom and a humane world in thousands of small local efforts. By repeating lies and distortions, they hope to make their “alternate reality” the new normal.

One organization led by Black youth, the Detroit Peoples’ Platform, is working to increase young and minority voter participation. Its “VOTE + PLUS” campaign stresses holding politicians accountable once they are elected. The slogan “all politics are local” was never more true. A revolutionary mass movement is needed even to get back to a “normal” bourgeois democracy.

—Susan Van Gelder

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