Editorial | What’s more important than democracy?

What's more important than Democracy?
A voter at the School for Visual Arts in Manhattan on Primary Day, June 28, 2022.
Photo by Dean Moses

Are you willing to forsake your vote for cheaper gas? Are you willing to forsake the rights of your neighbor to lower your grocery bills? Are you willing to forsake your own liberties, and the liberties of strangers, for a false sense of security?

These questions, and one other, are at the heart of the Nov. 8 midterm elections — a contest that will define the future of this country, for better or worse, like none before.

What’s more important than democracy?

We live in a democratic republic where we, the people, elect our fellow citizens to represent us in the halls of government. We have sent millions of soldiers to fight and die in every corner of this globe over the course of 246 years to defend that democratic republic — that system of “government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

We have become, because of that commitment to democracy and freedom, the “last best hope on Earth” for all nations — and an inspiration to struggling democracies everywhere that people yearn to rule themselves and determine their own destiny.

But all that we value and treasure about our great democratic republic are frightfully endangered because of a fascist movement in our midst — one that attacked the heart of our democracy on Jan. 6, 2021 and threatened to overturn the results of a fair and free presidential election.

The fascists failed — that time. 

But less than two years after the insurrection, our country finds itself on the brink of electing MAGA fascists to control the House and possibly even the Senate, as well as state legislatures and governor’s mansions, in the midterm elections.

Fascism is defined by Webster’s as “a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.” 

When an elected official opposes certifying the results of a presidential election based upon nothing but lies, they stand with fascism over American democracy. 

Sadly, two of our elected officials in New York — Lee Zeldin and Nicole Malliotakis — did just that on Jan. 6, 2021. And today, Malliotakis has the audacity to ask her constituents to trust her with the same power — and Zeldin audaciously asks the entire state to let him govern them. 

Government should always have room for liberals, conservatives and independents. But fascism must be stopped in its tracks.

For if fascism prevails at the polls, might will have made right. 

Fear will have triumphed over hope. 

Tyranny will have defeated justice.

We cannot let that happen.

Facts over fear

The MAGA movement’s track record is abysmal. 

In the past two years, they voted not only to overturn the election and give the insurrectionists a pass, but they’ve also voted in large numbers against protecting abortion rights, increasing gun control, improving infrastructure and stopping inflation.

Because they have nothing good to run on, they instead seek to scare you into voting for them because of crime and the economy. Don’t be fooled.

Our country and our state are not descending into chaos. Crime rates, while higher recently, are far lower in New York City than they were in the 1990s; New York’s murder rate, per capita, is far lower than that of red states like Texas and Florida.

Inflation may still be hitting our economy, but joblessness isn’t. Millions of jobs have been created over the last two years, and unemployment is at near-record lows. Consumer spending remains strong, and society is fully reopened after two long years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

All of the progress made over the past two years, and all of the progress still to come, will be completely undone if the MAGA movement takes control of Congress and state legislatures across the land.

History repeating itself?

Ask yourselves: What will happen in the next presidential election if the MAGA movement controls Congress? Will they honor the results of the 2024 presidential election if President Biden is re-elected or another Democrat wins? 

What will happen if Nicole Malliotakis — one of the 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the election — is re-elected to her Brooklyn and Staten Island House seat? Would she cower to the fascist mob again in 2024 and oppose another win by Biden and the Democrats?

What will happen if Lee Zeldin — another one of the 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the election, who still can’t publicly admit that Joe Biden won the election — becomes governor of New York? 

The governor has the power to appoint a secretary of state to oversee elections. Would Zeldin  appoint a fellow election denier to rig the rules with phony “election integrity” schemes to suppress the vote?

Are you really willing to give your representatives and your governor that kind of power because gas prices are too high? Or because you think bail reform is causing a crime wave?

Everything that happens in this country depends upon a functioning, stable, democratic republic that respects the rule of law, the constitutional rights of all Americans, and the will of all voters. 

We should always demand that our leaders focus on the issues that are important to you and your family. But no issue is greater than the preservation of our democracy. 

No amount of money or security will ever justify having election deniers and fascists occupying any level of government. They must be rebuked and defeated at the polls on Nov. 8, and every election thereafter. 

Let freedom ring. 

Let democracy prevail.