For two centuries, the United States has stood as a splendid model of democratic perfection. The efficiency and transparency of our election system was revered by people across the globe, and envied by those who lacked the freedom and power to vote for their own leadership.
Today, somehow, we have become a laughing stock in the eyes of the world. This election has emboldened the critics who have insisted our freedoms cannot be sustained indefinitely.
The civilized elections and smooth, peaceful transitions of power that have defined us as a nation have been supplanted by this: verbal brawling, partisan bickering, contentious name-calling, and legal saber-rattling.
The eyes of the world are on us – and we are an embarrassment.
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How did we get here? There is plenty of blame to go around.
Both sides of the aisle share culpability, individual state and city leaders are exercising influence where it doesn’t belong, and the pandemic has claimed the election as just one more of its many victims.
Now is not the time to cast blame. If our democracy is to survive, if everything our veterans have fought and died for is to continue, we must find common ground and solutions.
The current environment is the most dangerous threat to our democracy since World War II.
Partisanship, and the abuse of it, has split us apart.
People of both parties should be appalled by the way this election has been conducted.
Civility has been hijacked. It may have all started with the tone of social media posts, as some will suggest, but fuel has been thrown on that fire from every direction.
The tech giants, Twitter and Facebook, and to some extent Google, have only made matters worse. Their heavy-handed, and less-than-equitable efforts to silence voices on one side have incited more problems than they solved.
The overall tone in the country right now is indescribable.
Americans have lost trust.
They have lost trust in the once-reliable political polls, which now seem more concerned with manipulating the electorate with fictitious “projections” than presenting reliable data.
They have lost trust in the media. Once the arbiter of truth and accuracy and the protector of our Constitutional rights, news outlets have become operatives for partisan-aligned political ideology.
They have lost trust in their leaders, their federal government, their state governments, the legal system and the courts.
And worst of all, they have lost trust in each other.
How can you blame them?
As a nation, we no longer stand for the national anthem or honor our flag. We have abandoned prayer, and right here in our home state, churches and synagogues were prevented from holding services.
The controversy surrounding this election is further dividing us with every passing day.
Not long ago, it would have been unthinkable that we would find ourselves in this situation. Democracy is not trending in the right direction – it is spiraling into a chaotic abyss.
If we don’t do something about it now, it may be too late to save our Union of States.
Regardless of political affiliation or presidential pick, we all should be concerned about what is unfolding. We all should be speaking out against the indefensible campaigns of misinformation, blatant inaccuracies, and divisiveness.
A generation ago, we never could have imagined the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. A similar fate could well befall the U.S.A. if things don’t change immediately.
We must change the narrative and restore the nation’s trust in elections. Without legitimate, fair and Constitutional elections, our democracy cannot stand.
An election process that is acceptable to only half the residents, or less, is unacceptable and unsustainable.
In New Jersey, a large segment of the electorate resented the vote-by-mail mandate, as demonstrated by the volume of election-day ballots received at the limited “polling” locations.
The first step to restoring the public’s trust is the revival of in-person voting. The right to enter a voting booth and privately, anonymously cast one’s ballot is a treasured one, and the denial of that opportunity has been confusing and upsetting to many New Jersey residents and long-time voters.
As our limping nation begins to heal from the damage of the 2020 election, we can renew some confidence in the process by simply allowing voters to step behind the curtain and make their selections.
No matter what the final outcome of the election yields, it is time to begin the effort to mend fences, put aside disagreements, and prioritize good public policy over partisan politics.
I am asking New Jerseyans to reach out to their state and local officials, and share your ideas about how we can bridge our differences and reunite the United States of America.
I sincerely hope my colleagues and elected officials will listen and do the right thing for our residents.
State Senator Robert Singer represents New Jersey’s 30th Legislative District.