I had hoped that the sense of crisis that has been so pervasive in our society for the last four years – plus the additional layer of the COVID pandemic for the last 15 months – would have dissipated more than it has. I was hoping we could move away from the subject of our rancorous politics. In fact, there has been some relief provided by the Biden Administration and return to normalcy. But there is a new, growing crisis.
There is a crisis of authoritarianism within the Unitarian Universalist Association, but that is very small potatoes compared to the national authoritarianism that is behind the attacks on voting rights, and on elections at all levels. Not having won the big prize at the ballot box last November, authoritarian elements first tried violent insurrection, and then increased voter suppression – still in progress – and worst of all, systematic intimidation of public officials. Feeling that they can’t win big enough at the polls, the anti-democratic forces are undermining confidence in elections generally, and threatening people involved in elections, from Secretaries of State down to poll workers. And it’s working. Some poll workers fear for their lives, and some are resigning. In State after State, the legislatures are giving themselves the right to nullify elections. Violent intimidation of German democrats and the non-compliant was an important tool of Hitler’s rise. His insurrectionists and thugs were called Sturmabteilung, storm troopers. We see people like that here now.
I do not wish to seem alarmist, but I do wish to sound a non-exaggerated alarm that we are in danger of losing essential parts of our democracy in parts of our country. I hope we all agree that this is a serious and growing problem and will do what we can to support and defend democracy. It may mean taking some risks, like speaking up.
Rev. Leland Bond-Upson