Blah blah blah | Three Things Thursday

Unite America

Happy Thursday (yes, it’s Thursday for those of you losing track). 

As Americans across the country grapple with overrun hospitals, the loss of income, and the loss of loved ones, our elected officials are working to cushion the blow that comes from the sudden halt in the American economy. 

… so there’s a lot to talk about this week.

Here are three things to think about: 

  1. Blah blah blah

The Senate this week passed a $2.2 trillion dollar spending bill, in theory designed to give a helping hand to the millions of Americans and their industries that are suffering. Despite the urgent need by so many Americans, negotiations over the bill nevertheless descended into disappointingly familiar partisan divide. Republicans claimed Democrats were stalling the process by forcing in other policy priorities, like student loan forgiveness. Democrats claimed Republicans were doing the bidding of large corporations without sufficient accountability.

The result was many precious days lost to petty partisanship perhaps best reflected in this tweet exchange:

The partisan divide has become so deeply ingrained that even the most tragic of pandemics can’t force our political leaders to put country over party. Instead, they retreat to the familiarity of partisanship, always concerned over who will look like the victor come reelection. Politicians in Washington should take inspiration from the America heroes working on the frontlines of our hospitals – who are risking everything and working with each other to help their fellow Americans, without partisanship getting in the way.

  1. A downpayment on our elections

Included in the Senate’s spending bill was $400 million that will go towards election security and ensuring that Americans can vote in this November’s election. As states work to protect voters, this money can in theory go towards vote at home election systems and processes. 

To quote our friends at Issue One, $400 million is a good downpayment on secure elections. Yet experts find themselves still struggling with the figure: the Brennan Center estimates that it will cost $2 billion to get our election systems prepared for the onslaught of absentee ballots come November. 

Here’s why it matters: we don’t know when this pandemic will be considered “over”, especially for the vulnerable populations, like the elderly. In states that have had primaries since the pandemic began, turnout has been down by roughly 25%, compared with states that voted pre-pandemic that saw increases in turnout by roughly 20%. If our elections aren’t safe for all to participate in, they’re not representative of all of us. Using vote at home election systems is the single most important reform we can pass –– and fund –– ahead of November. 

  1. Why Conservatives support vote at home too

Here’s the truth: election reform is nonpartisan. At Unite America, our mission is to make our government more functional and representative, and that’s exactly what the reforms we support do. Vote at home is a simple, secure, and convenient way to vote that allows states to maintain election security while also making it easier for millions to participate. 

This week, former chair of the RNC Michael Steele, and Eli Lehrer, president of the conservative R Street think tank, make the conservative case for getting behind vote by mail as the way to keep voters safe this election cycle. 

Vote at home doesn’t help any particular party; initial studies have shown it increases both urban and rural populations by simply making it more convenient to vote. Our elections are supposed to be representative of the people, afterall. A reform that puts voters first is an important place to start.

Did you know that nationwide there's a critical shortage of blood and platelets? Countless regularly scheduled blood drives have been canceled due to coronavirus, and as a results, emergency services are in desperate need of blood donations. If you're healthy and able, I  encourage you to get out and donate blood or platelets to your local donation center. I've linked the Red Cross here, but across the country, there are dozens of groups that supply hospitals right in your area.

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