President Trump's increasingly hyperbolic attacks on voting by mail, amplified by Attorney General William Barr and the Republican National Committee, have triggered alarms that the country is heading toward another contested election.
Trump appears to be gearing up to cast doubt on an outcome that doesn't go his way. Primaries marred by hours-long lines, voting machine malfunctions and controversies over absentee ballots have many bracing for a meltdown starting Election Day. A much bigger surge of mailed-in votes in November virtually guarantees the results won't be known for days, setting the stage for a crisis in voter confidence if the results are close enough to be challenged, as happened in 2000.
Yet for all that, voting rights advocates mobilizing to secure the election and neutralize Trump's divisive voting rhetoric have surprising and influential allies in their corner: many leading Republicans.
- Jimmy Carter, in reversal, embraces vote by mail - The Fulcrum ›
- Conservative anti-Trumpers launch vote-by-mail ad campaign - The ... ›
- Vote-by-mail limits challenged in three Southern states - The Fulcrum ›
- Mail-in voting benefits neither party, is nearly fraud-free - The Fulcrum ›
On the surface, the coronavirus pandemic seems to have driven already-divided Americans even further apart.
Police brutality has triggered violent protests in dozens of cities. In a split that's been dubbed the "lockdown left" versus the "reopen right," Democrats are bickering with Republicans over whether public health or the economy should come first. In the House, GOP lawmakers have sued Democrats for permitting proxy voting during the pandemic. And President Trump is stoking all these divisions as the defining strategy of his reelection campaign.
"The unity that was created during and after world wars for America lasted years, the unity after 9/11 lasted months — and the unity during this Covid crisis might be days," says former Rep. Tim Roemer, an Indiana Democrat who helped spearhead a recent bipartisan letter signed by 110 former lawmakers, top government officials and governors urging Congress to respond with more strength, unity and cooperation.
But the rancor and bad blood roiling government officials are not the whole story.
Americans are also reporting heightened public unity and trust as communities draw together in the crisis. A survey last month by More in Common found 90 percent saying "we're all in it together," compared to only 63 percent in 2018. The number who described the country as unified jumped eightfold in the same period.
- Partisan divide creates different Americas, separate lives - The ... ›
- Americans much more unified because of the virus, poll finds - The ... ›
- What 1860 and 1968 can teach America about the 2020 election ... ›
- Polarization is more of a cultural problem - The Fulcrum ›
The scramble to save local news outlets decimated by the coronavirus pandemic has fueled calls to reimagine both the business model and the mission of the media industry, with democracy front and center.
Local news needs more than just a bailout, argue advocates of public interest journalism who have been newly mobilized. It needs a complete transformation, toward a civic mandate that serves the public and not the bottom line. In particular, newsrooms need to rebuild trust and collaboration in rural, low-income or marginalized communities whose stories too often go untold.
- All politics, and all political transformation, is local - The Fulcrum ›
- Census Bureau opens unique office to fight disinformation - The ... ›
- How one local newspaper, half a century ago, set standards to live ... ›
- A Crazy Idea for Funding Local News: Charge People for It - The ... ›
- Exclusive: Google partners to fund new local media sites - Axios ›
- The call for federal support of local news is getting louder - CNN ›
- Democratic senators call for funding for local media in coronavirus ... ›
- Introducing the COVID-19 Local News Fund: Information - Local ... ›