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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

The windowsill over my kitchen sink is an altar of sorts, full of small framed photos of our grandchildren and other mementos to keep me grateful.

The square ceramic tile leaning against the window started out with the painted names of our immediate family. It has since flowered to include the names of additional loved ones etched in various colors of Sharpie.

The red Matchbox car was a gift from my son, who stuck it in my Christmas stocking in my early single-mother days as a promise that one day I, too, would drive a car in my favorite color. He was right, and I do.

A recent addition is a white, palm-sized origami swan. After a speech I gave in December, 12-year-old Chéthan Chandra walked up to me and, with the gentlest of smiles, held out a little black box with a silver bow.

“I made this for you,” he said.

Chéthan is a triplet, and I’ve known his family for years, but that moment — that gift — moved me in a way I didn’t see coming. Like much of post-election America, I was feeling the weight of what loomed ahead, but staring at that delicate swan in my palm, and then looking into the face of that beautiful boy, I was transported. I stood in the eye of the hurricane, awash with a sense of calm.

This may seem like an odd way to begin a column about those of you who voted for Donald Trump, but I have my reasons. If you know these small things about my life, maybe you’ll hang with me here a little longer.

For months now, I’ve been hearing and reading about how those of us who didn’t support Trump need to understand those of you who did. We must listen to you, the argument goes. We must understand your anger.

I’m reaching my saturation point with this one-sided conversation, because it is always framed as a threat. Figure out why so many of my fellow Americans supported Trump, or lose more elections. This is an argument for political ambition, not reconciliation.

I don’t want to mock or ridicule you, but I also don’t want to pretend that my objections are irrelevant. Many of you Trump supporters regularly write to ask why I won’t give him a chance. I want to know how you can continue to tolerate a man so needy that, even as president, he requires campaign rallies full of cheering throngs to keep his ego afloat.

If being president doesn’t fulfill his need to feel important, what will? Doesn’t the answer to that scare you?

I don’t want to coddle you, in the thin hope that this will coax out your regret for electing the most dangerous man to ever inhabit the White House. This would do nothing to mitigate the harm Trump is daily inflicting on this country.

Even The Wall Street Journal‘s ultra-conservative editorial board has had its fill of Trump’s malignant behavior. Consider their response to Trump’s persistent lie that President Obama wiretapped his phones: “(T)he President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle.”

That’s the image of our president, projected to the world.

His approval rating here in this country continues to plummet. A new Gallup Poll shows that only 37 percent still support him — a new low even for Trump. Fifty-eight percent of Americans disapprove of the job he is doing. This, during what is normally the honeymoon period for new presidents.

I don’t celebrate those numbers, but I won’t apologize for them either. I’ve reached a point where I think it’s time for you to try to understand people like me, who are doing everything we can to limit the harm of this dangerous man.

Like you, I love my family and my friends.

Like you, I love my country, too.

We have this in common, you and I, no matter who is president. I’m trying always to remember that.

Every morning, I walk to that window in my kitchen. I look at those little framed photos, and I study Chéthan’s swan. For just a moment, I stand in the eye of the hurricane, and I am calm. It’s enough.

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Eric Holder

The failure of major federal voting rights legislation in the Senate has left civil rights advocates saying they are determined to keep fighting—including by suing in battleground states. But the little bipartisan consensus that exists on election reform would, at best, lead to much narrower legislation that is unlikely to address state-level GOP efforts now targeting Democratic blocs.

“This is the loss of a battle, but it is not necessarily the loss of a war, and this war will go on,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and Democrat, told MSNBC, saying that he and the Democratic Party will be suing in states where state constitutions protect voting rights. “This fight for voting rights and voter protection and for our democracy will continue.”

“The stakes are too important to give up now,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has operated an Election Day hotline to help people vote. “Our country cannot claim to be free while allowing states to legislate away that freedom at will.”

In recent weeks, as it became clear that the Senate was not going to change its rules to allow the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to pass with a simple majority, there have been efforts by some lawmakers, election policy experts, and civil rights advocates to identify what election reforms could pass the Senate.

“There are several areas… where I think there could be bipartisan consensus,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a briefing on January 20. “These areas are all around those guardrails of democracy. They are all about ensuring that however the voters speak that their voice is heard… and cannot be subverted by anyone in the post-election process.”

Becker cited updating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which addressed the process where state-based slates of presidential electors are accepted by Congress. (In recent weeks, new evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump’s supporters tried to present Congress with forged certificates as part of an effort to disrupt ratifying the results on January 6, 2021.) Updating that law could also include clarifying which state officials have final authority in elections and setting out clear timetables for challenging election results in federal court after Election Day.

Five centrist Washington-based think tanks issued a report on January 20, Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform, which suggested federal legislation could codify practices now used by nearly three-quarters of the states. Those include requiring voters to present ID, offering at least a week of early voting, allowing all voters to request a mailed-out ballot, and allowing states to start processing returned absentee ballots a week before Election Day.

But the report, which heavily drew on a task force of 29 state and local election officials from 20 states convened by Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center, was notable in what it did not include, such as restoring the major enforcement section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was removed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. It did not mention the Electoral Count Act nor growing threats to election officials from Trump supporters.

“This won’t satisfy all supporters of the Freedom to Vote Act, but this is a plausible & serious package of reforms to make elections more accessible and secure that could attract bipartisan support,” tweeted Charles Stewart III, a political scientist and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. “A good starting point.”

The reason the centrist recommendations won’t satisfy civil rights advocates is that many of the most troubling developments since the 2020 election would likely remain.

Targeting Battleground States

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Former president Donald Trump

By Rami Ayyub and Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) -The prosecutor for Georgia's biggest county on Thursday requested a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid her investigation into then-President Donald Trump's efforts to influence the U.S. state's 2020 election results.

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