Dear GARE Members, Partners, and Allies,
January 2022 marks two groundbreaking one-year anniversaries. The January 6th insurrection on the U.S. Capitol; and a mere two weeks later, the January 20th anniversary of President Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.
A recent poll on Americans’ views of the events that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, reminds us of the power of disinformation. It was conducted by Ipsos and National Public Radio (NPR) between December 17-20, 2021 among a sample of 1,126 adults ages 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii. Included among the findings:
- Around one in three (32%) believe the January 6th assault on the U.S. Capitol building was an attempted coup or insurrection, while 28% say it was a riot that got out of control. However, 17% cite a conspiracy – that the events were carried out by opponents of Donald Trump, including Antifa and government agents.
- More than one in five Americans say sometimes it is okay to engage in violence to protect American democracy (24%) or American culture and values (22%). There is no significant difference between all partisans on this; however, there is a difference between Biden voters and Trump voters, specifically, with the latter more inclined to agree with engaging in violence.
- Sixty-five percent of Americans agree with the statement, “I accept the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.” However, this number falls to fewer than half among Republicans, Trump voters, and those who get their news from Fox News or conservative news media.
The events that occurred on January 6th resulted from a direct appeal to take action to interfere with the congressional certification of the election – a constitutional duty. It was fueled by political ambition that continues to tell lies about the outcome of the 2020 election. This lie incited violence at the U.S. Capitol, against the elected officials who convened there to conduct their duty to certify the election, and against all who were there to ensure that the proceedings could occur on that day. The President and those elected and appointed to federal service swear an oath to uphold and abide by the constitution. Supporting that oath is not conditional. Supporting the safe and peaceful transition of our government is not conditional.
The actions Republican State legislatures are taking to restrict voting rights in our country for Black and Brown voters will impact the rights of all voters. These actions are also fueled by lies and disinformation about voter fraud promoted on social media and repeated by public officials. The Ipsos poll results on voting include:
- Forty-nine percent say standardizing voting rules across states will make American elections fairer compared to only 19% who say it would make elections less fair.
- The other leading proposal – allowing any eligible voter to vote by mail– is cited by 44% to make the system fairer. This proposal does not have bipartisan support: twice as many Democrats (62%) as Republicans (31%) say it will make the system fairer.
- Just 15% of Americans say giving state legislatures the power to determine the outcome of an election would make American elections fairer, while 57% say it will make them less fair. In general, views toward proposed election reforms in this poll also vary based on news consumption and the candidate supported in the 2020 election.
How do we make sense of this seemingly polarized reality? And how do we chart a way forward in these politically choppy waters? Ensuring all of us safe and convenient access to participate in our most basic of constitutional rights is not conditional. It is fundamental to our practice of democracy.
Glenn Harris, President of Race Forward often reminds us, “We can’t have racial justice without democracy, and we can’t have democracy without racial justice.”
The GARE network exists in part because a just, multiracial democracy is an aspiration we, as a nation, have yet to fully realize. At a time when voting rights are increasingly under threat and school board races across the country have gotten increasingly polarized around the honest and accurate teaching of our nation’s racial legacy, that aspiration can seem even further on the horizon.
And so, here at GARE, we are setting our intentions for the year. A year of bold experimentation this network and the political moment demands; a year of calling more people into this movement for racial equity in government to come together, both in-person and online. And finally, a year of creating the momentum we need in all aspects of government to get us closer to enjoying a just, multiracial democracy.
Gordon F. Goodwin