We are in a time of crisis. Across our nation communities are struggling as their citizens and local businesses vie for economic activity. You don’t need to follow the updates from the federal reserve to know that the stock market is down, and businesses are closing their doors. While I believe the economy will indeed grow back, the focus of this short column is not economic forecasting.
At a fundamental level, our democracy is being tested and pushed to its limits to accommodate the challenges facing U.S. citizens. Despite our efforts, I fear we face many struggles ahead. The economic distress alone would topple many fragile democracies. However, in the midst of it, the United States still stands. Our institutions, albeit slowly, are indeed responding and showing their resolve. While across the world, authoritarian regimes are taking this opportunity to suppress expression and increase government surveillance. The primary problem is that there is no check on such power in those countries. Nonetheless, there is here. While I cannot speak for the 49 brother and sister states in our great nation, I can speak for our commonwealth in saying our democratic system in Kentucky is revealing its strength.
In our state government, our democratic partners have been acting expeditiously to protect the principles and foundations that hold us together. There is no denying the critical need for more COVID-19 tests, hospital beds and ventilators. There remains a desire for in-person church services, or services that allow us to worship while protecting those most vulnerable to this virus. But putting those issues aside, we are all witnessing the tenacity of our elected leadership. A democracy will indeed fail when the voice of its electorate becomes restrained or suppressed. However, we are witnessing the opposite in the Commonwealth. Our Republican Secretary of State just shared with us his work with our Democratic Governor to protect not only the ballot box, but at a core level, our own democratic values.
If social distancing continues to be necessary to prevent the spread of this virus in the foreseeable future, the ability to vote distantly is the clear parallel for the electorate. Old voters, rural voters, red-state and blue-state voters all share their anxiousness to cast a ballot while not putting their health at risk. The solidarity we Kentuckians must find is at the ballot box. Regardless of our values, we must protect our fundamental right to vote to prevent a full-scale retreat of the freedoms we hold dearly. Not only is this vital for our own livelihood, but it is crucial for the world to prevent a breeding ground for radical movements that thrive in a democratic vacuum. When this virus does subside, as it will, the world will be a different place. Nonetheless, if we desire continuity in our existence as an electorate voice governing the direction of our country and our state, just as the founders intended, unity is essential to protect our right to vote. Frankly, this is not a partisan issue.
Even further, many may disagree with the actions of our Attorney General in targeting our Governor for the travel restrictions recently imposed. However, we can agree that our country relies on a checks and balances system that prevents one branch of government from gaining too much power. At its core, such measures reveal that even while in crisis, our elected leaders are proving their worth in assessing the intermingled relationships of each branch, and appropriately responding through their work.
To conclude, we should be proud to be Kentuckians. We will indeed vote this coming fall in a way that balances our right to vote while preventing voting fraud. I have no doubt that our Secretary of State is taking measures to ensure that end. While our Governor continues his leadership in saving lives across our state in a time of crisis, we can rest assured in knowing our Attorney General will prevent overreach when it is present – just as our system of government is intended to work. So, while we practice social distancing and safety precautions to protect our loved ones, we are also witnessing the ideal democracy, thus, setting an example to the rest of the United States in more ways than one.