How our republic survives a pandemic | Three Things Thursday
We did it, we made it to April.
Time is relative, after all, and March felt like a lifetime.
At the beginning of this month, we were talking about the spoiled ballots from early voters in Super Tuesday states.
Now, we’re just trying to make sure the rest of states can actually hold their primaries.
So we’ve got a lot to cover. Here are three things to think about this week:
For a few weeks now, we’ve been talking about how vote at home is the most critical policy that states must adopt in order to ensure that our elections can be held in a way that’s both safe and representative. In just the last week, a number of states have already moved to adapt their absentee ballot program to allow all voters to request an absentee ballot.
This week, the Unite America Institute released a white paper to help policy makers and election officials understand best practices they can adopt to ensure that their elections are seamless and secure. Vote at Home: How our Democracy Survives a Pandemic culls dozens of studies, expert testimony, and case studies to help all Americans understand how to stay safe this election cycle.
If history has taught us anything, it’s that periods of great tumult and tragedy can either unite us or divide us. The after effects of World War I gave rise to Naziism; while World War II brought Americans the idea of a united home front. As we face a new, invisible enemy, the most important thing we as Uniters can do is to remember not to blame one side or another.
Already, partisanship has shown to be a deciding factor in how Americans are interpreting the dangers of COVID-19. As NYU psychology professor Jonathan Haidt says: “In fact, a marker of our political sickness is that taking the virus seriously has become itself a marker of tribal identity.”
We must remember that this isn’t a fictional pandemic, and blaming one side or another solves nothing. It’s going to take all of us to fight coronavirus, and it’s going to take all of us to recover from its impacts.
In a time of social distancing, quarantine, and isolation, human connection would seem to be (literally) unreachable. Yet the internet, long derided as a toxic cess-pool, filled with political trolls and Russian bots, may finally be turning a corner, providing the creative tool and outlet for the millions of Americans at home.
Whether you’ve been holding virtual happy hours with coworkers (like we’ve been doing here at Unite!) or sharing homeschooling tips with your friends on Facebook, our ability to connect with one another in a constructive way online has never been more palpable.
Just because our lives outside are on hold doesn’t mean that our ability to create and to work towards something greater has to stop. For those of us who care about reform, this is a great time to do some reading about the issues, or reach out to legislators, or even lay the groundwork for a future campaign. Our democracy trudges on, and so does the need to put voters first.
Stay safe, my friends. We’re in this together.