It’s the 4th of July in America

Happy 4th of July! It’s the anniversary of the events that created this nation. There is no better time to reflect on what it means to be patriotic. This 4th of July, we celebrate the power of resistance and its role in the continuing saga of these United States. In this spirit, we hope you enjoy a barbeque and the fireworks! Remember what is good about your life in America and what needs improving. Our combined efforts can maintain and expand this quality of life for ourselves and our most vulnerable fellow citizens. Then, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday recommit to our resistance and make some phone calls to protect the privacy of the ballot box and the right to vote.

From the sublime...

In our neck of the woods there is a campground at the end of a rough road called “4th of July Campground.” It sits just below the Continental Divide and leads - by a spectacular alpine trail -to a pass and a mountain named for one of the Native tribes that were long ago driven from this part of our state. From the top of the mountain you can see the edges of the populated Front Range to the east and the rural towns, mines and ranches to the west.

Local legend has it that it is called the 4th of July Campground because the snow melts and the road opens around the 4th of July every year. There had been some heavy snow late in the spring this year. So we were wondering if the road would be clear when we went up that way a week ago; but the road was clear and the high country quite dry. High snow fall gave way to even higher temperatures this spring.

Our walk gave us abundant opportunities to think about America’s divides – east and west, urban and rural – and our changing climate. Here are some of our thoughts: 1) The view from the top is spectacular! This is worth the walk and worth the fight to maintain. 2) To get there you have to do the repetitive and breath taking (literally) work of climbing step by step. Once you’re on the top you see some things clearly but the distance can obscure the details.  3) From there - you walk over to the next valley and down the mountain again. 

To the ridiculous and dangerous…….

During the uproar that followed the firing of James Comey, President Trump quietly signed an executive order appointing a Voter Integrity Commission co-led by Vice President Pence and Kris Kobach, the notorious Kansas Secretary of State who has led the nation’s most thorough and successful effort at suppressing the right to vote. President Trump has alleged that 3 million “illegal votes in the last election are responsible for denying him the popular vote victory. This is indisputably false.  To date, there are only 4 documented cases of illegal votes in the 2016 election out of 135 million votes cast. Meanwhile, studies show that in Wisconsin alone as many as 200,000 citizens were wrongfully denied the right to vote by the state’s new voter ID law. Recently, the North Carolina legislature, in the words of a Federal District Court "target(ed) African-Americans with almost surgical precision" in order to suppress black turnout at the polls.

This past week Kobach requested that all 50 states send the Commission their comprehensive voter files including confidential information about voters’ party registration, partial social security numbers, dates of birth and voting history. A few states have complied, but many others did not, citing legal protections for private elements of voter data and some vocally opposing the intent of the Commission. None of this information is necessary or useful in identifying voter integrity or fraud. Instead, the clear intent of asking for this data is to devise ways to reduce Democratic participation in elections.

Call to Action

Call both your Governor and your state’s chief election officer (usually the Secretary of State). Tell them that you believe the Voter Integrity Commission is a fraudulent excuse to deny citizens the right to vote. Demand that they protect the private information found in your voter files.

Call your Senators and your Representative whether they are Republicans or Democrats. Tell them that you oppose this partisan attempt to purge the voter rolls which is being orchestrated by the so-called Voter Integrity Commission.

Enjoy a barbecue and beverage of choice with your friends