Of all days, today should have been a day of mourning and reflection as a grateful nation lays to rest Congressman John Lewis, the conscience of the Congress, a civil rights icon, and one of the best of us. Congressman Lewis was a man of great faith who put his life on the line to fight for justice, equality, and to secure the sacred and constitutional right to vote. It was his vocation, his life’s mission, and his calling.
However, this morning President Trump posted the following unconscionable tweet regarding our upcoming election that dishonors Congressman Lewis’ legacy and poses a direct threat to our democracy:
With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???
This tweet is especially appalling on this day considering Congressman Lewis dedicated his life and shed his blood so that all would have the right to vote.
As we face a health pandemic, an economic crisis, a moment of reckoning, and potential transformation around racial justice, we are also facing the precipitous consequences of this president’s reckless administration.
Historically, elections have proceeded in the midst of national crises, including the Civil War and the 1918 Spanish Influenza.
Fortunately, an independent decision to change the date of the election is beyond the president’s power and would need congressional approval. Thus any attempt by the president to single-handedly change the election date would be illegal and immoral. We should not delay the election or the peoples’ democratic right to select the next president. Congressional members of both parties must immediately repudiate any attempt to move or discredit this election.
Congressman John Lewis penned a New York Times op-ed to be released on the day of his funeral, today. In his final message to us he wrote:
Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.
If our democracy is to survive this moment, every person of faith and conscience must lift their voices and take a stand in this existential struggle for what is right.
Manipulating precedent, principles, and established case law that undergirds our government in order for an administration or an individual to retain power is depraved and immoral. Suppressing votes and silencing voters is immoral. Oppressing and intimidating certain communities and populations of people is immoral. Engineering and abusing systems like redistricting for political purposes is immoral.
We have witnessed these covert efforts to determine outcomes in the past. What the administration suggested today is much more overt and dangerous, and it is also immoral.
People of faith must reject outright this suggestion from the president, and, as Congressman John Lewis said, we must be willing to get into “good and necessary trouble,” to protect our democracy. Congressman John Lewis would be standing against these remarks from the president. People of faith across the country can honor his life and the legacy by doing the same.