WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) issued the following statement in advance of the Independence Day holiday, July 4, 2021.
“Throughout our history, Americans have celebrated the Fourth of July as an annual recognition of our independence from tyranny, our fight for freedom, and the eventual establishment of the democracy we are today. Yet this year, we must commemorate our independence with an asterisk, a present reminder of the perils our republic faces today.
“People around the world view the U.S. Capitol as the epicenter of American democracy. After watching the halls of the Capitol become flooded on January 6 by domestic terrorists who were looking to overturn a free and fair election, the message could not be any clearer. The democracy that built this nation is under attack in a way that no American has ever witnessed in our lifetimes. We must act now to protect the institutions that make the United States the shining citadel and bulwark of democracy and freedom worldwide.
“In many states, legislatures and governors have responded to the falsehoods of the 2020 election by restricting voting accessibility. Around the country, millions of Americans are being inappropriately deprived of their constitutional right to vote. The importance of the vote for the survival of our democracy cannot be overstated. President Lyndon B. Johnson put it well when he said, ‘This right to vote is the basic right without which all others are meaningless. It gives people, people as individuals, control over their own destinies.’
“With Johnson’s words in mind, it is infuriating to witness millions of Americans be deprived of their right to vote. Within the first months of this year, 28 states enacted over 100 bills aimed at restricting access to the ballot box. These laws actively deny voters – especially minority voters – from participating in our democracy, undermining the foundations of the democratic society we have tirelessly worked to build for generations.
“Further undermining our democracy, in late June, all 50 Republican senators blocked us from proceeding to the “For the People Act” (S.1). Putting gridlock and partisanship before the rights of voters, they refused to even allow us to start debate on this important bill to improve voting rights and accessibility for the whole country. The Senate is being blocked from having the chance to consider options and amendments and do what the Founding Fathers intended it to do: Legislate.
“The need for federal voting rights protection grew more urgent this week as the conservative majority on the Supreme Court upheld some of the most egregious of laws coming from Arizona. This partisan ruling most certainly will disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters, which is exactly the intent.
“I am hopeful that the Senate will find a way to move forward the For the People Act, as well as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, both of which will do much to restore the right to vote across our nation and live up to Johnson’s words by ensuring voting as a ‘basic right’ for all Americans.
“As the 4th of July approaches, as we get ready to celebrate a day commemorating our freedom and our democracy, I urge my colleagues and my fellow American citizens to reflect on the state of our democracy and the rights we hold dear. A blatant attempt to falsify an election and persistent efforts to deny the American people access to the ballot box have eroded American democracy to a dangerous level and undermined the freedom and liberty that so many Americans have fought to defend and advance.
“This Independence Day, consider what you have done and can do in the future to protect our democracy. I implore everyone to come together, as past generations have over the last 245 years, and work once again to fight for the preservation of American democracy.”