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To alleviate political despair, stand up for voting rights | READER COMMENTARY

Protesters rallied to demand protection for voting rights on the 58th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images),
Protesters rallied to demand protection for voting rights on the 58th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images), (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Michelle Goldberg’s recent commentary about political despair touched on a topic that is critical to the life of any democracy: Are citizens engaged and feeling that they can make an impact (”Michelle Goldberg: The problem of political despair,” Nov. 23)? Although she occupies an influential position, Ms. Goldberg injects her own despair into the column. There is plenty of room to achieve much in the remaining year before the mid-term elections.

Our current political dilemma has its roots in four decades during which both political parties slavishly followed the dictates of Wall Street, Big Coal and Oil, health industry lobbies, war-mongering weapons makers and other special interests. As a result, the working classes are in a precarious economic position, while billionaires continue to amass unheard of wealth.

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Now, Democrats have a chance to respond positively to some long-term trends by passing legislation to support working families, prevent or ameliorate the worst effects of climate change, and promote political equality. Ms. Goldberg ignores the work of millions of citizens who are actively working to influence their representatives and senators to get these bills passed. She prefers to magnify the effect of short-term setbacks, but every great legislative campaign — such as the establishment of the minimum wage and 8-hour workday, and the voting rights bills — is arduous.

Ms. Goldberg frets that partisan gerrymandering is enough to tip the balance in the U.S. House of Representatives. That’s true, but she fails to mention that the Freedom to Vote Act has a strong remedy to outlaw partisan gerrymandering and require disclosure of dark money in political campaigns. It also has election integrity provisions to counter state laws that seek to replace local election officials with political party “apparatchiks.”

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The Freedom to Vote Act has passed the House and has the support of 50 senators and the vice president. It is awaiting a procedural change to be enacted.

Ms. Goldberg writes as though we’re a nation of spectators while a few puppet masters determine the course of history. We must reject that role by shaping political events. We can press President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, holdout U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, and all of our senators to move forward to enact laws that promote political equality and protect the interests of working people.

Charlie Cooper, Baltimore

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