President Joe Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress, April 28, 2021. Photo courtesy of the White House

An Open Letter to President Biden

Dear President Biden:

As autocracy is not democracy; “filibuster” is not rule-by-majority. As a 70-year-old White American, I have watched in shame the bigotry of the filibuster acted out by lawmakers, law enforcement and our legal system; I have watched lynching transition into mass incarceration, I have experienced how public education has stayed the course of disguised racism, and I have seen how these threads of our remembrance of American history have weaved our economy into the have-nots of inequality.

Power, money and race seem to define our history rather than its reality. I find myself, toward the end of my life, experiencing one man, one vote moving as a continuum that is greatly manipulated into one privileged White man, one privileged White vote. And so today, I write, bitterly asking myself, and you, Mr. President, how long, how long, how much longer?

Meanwhile, I have also watched how Black Capitol police risked their lives to stand beside their White brothers to preserve our electoral process. Tell me, Mr. President, where would you have been without them? Tell me, where would we all be? This threat to our democracy even makes it more essential to solidify every man’s—and woman’s—democracy and secure everyone’s vote. After 245 years, is it not about that time Mr. President?

As you visit Georgia, which heroically got out the vote, and was the state that gave you your power to act in Washington, I can only hope that Stacey Abrams’ absence does not symbolize the absence of so many others and your true feelings about this issue. If it does mirror your true intentions, your actions would again be segregating Black Americans from this historic event, as well as the possibility to secure their right to vote.

These are the same Americans who put you in the office with their vote. However, without your response and strong voter legislation, new laws recently contrived and passed in Georgia would decimate the people’s vote, in large numbers, that will not happen again.

President Biden, if it is that time for all votes to genuinely be counted, it will also be your time, if not your legacy. If it means getting rid of the racially charged filibuster, it would be a small, if not appropriate, price to pay. It means you must stand strong against the device that has prevented majority rule.

If you surrender to the Confederacy of democracy, I and so many more—the simple majority—will continue to feel shame, and you sir, will lose your presidency. Your success—or failure—will be our success or failure, and your success will ultimately change America for the better.

Will America be a democracy or will it be an autocracy? Your words sir, not mine. I would have added, White autocracy, just as there is a reason you live in the White House that Black slaves, working and dying in the D.C. snow once built for you. George Washington slaves, were they not sir? And D.C. still does not have statehood or representatives in Washington. And Georgia is still named after King George II and one of the states that carried you.

Everything must change Mr. President. Let us together change history, not by forgetting it, or running away from it, but by improving upon it, righting its wrongs, and living out the dream of the American promise, “that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and women) are created equal.”

Every person, one vote, which will be assured by the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, move us ever forward and that much closer to fulfilling the American promise.

Submitted sincerely and respectfully,

Grant Marcus

Ventura, CA

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