The WØRD – “Democracy”

From Chairperson Barnes


It is at risk. The continuing attacks on the integrity of our elections is a symptom of a more widespread attack by Republicans on the greatest democracy in history.

  • Republicans in two states have attempted to banish members of their state legislatures because they didn’t agree with the members’ political positions on two important issues: gun safety and civil rights for all Americans.
  • In Florida, the Republican governor and legislature are using the power of government to punish Disney Corporation for opposing the state’s anti-LGBTQ laws … echoing an attack used 2 years ago against cruise-ship companies that enforced COVID safety measures.
  • Florida has also taken away the right to vote from more than 1-million former prison inmates despite a statewide vote restoring those rights.
  • Just about every Republican state has used the excuse of non-existent election fraud to make it more difficult to vote. The Brennan Center for Justice reports that in 2023 alone state lawmakers in at least 32 states pre-filed or introduced 150 restrictive voting bills… bills which contain one or more provisions that would make it harder for eligible Americans to register, stay on the voter rolls, or vote as compared to existing state law.
  • Extreme gerrymandering across the nation is distorting democracy beyond recognition, guaranteeing one-party stays in power regardless of voter preferences.
  • Ohio is enacting legislation to make it virtually impossible for citizen-led petition drives to put new laws or constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Michigan is increasingly becoming a beacon of democracy for the nation. In 2018 and 2022 citizen-led petition drives brought major reforms ending gerrymandering and expanding voter rights. Now, with the new Democratic majorities in the Legislature working hand-in-glove with Governor Whitmer, our democracy is being strengthened even more.

Joining us this week: Senator Sarah Anthony discussing one of those efforts: her bill to expand the rights of ethnic minorities to reflect their heritage and culture in a small-but-important way: through their personal appearance.

The daughter of UAW retirees and the first Black woman to serve as state representative in Lansing’s history, Senator Anthony is a champion of working families and marginalized communities. She is the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and is serving her first term in the Michigan Senate.

As Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, she earned a reputation as a pragmatic, effective legislator in the Michigan House of Representatives, where she passed multiple bills into law with substantial bipartisan and stakeholder support. She continues to fight to strengthen education, expand health care, reform Michigan’s criminal justice system and improve the economy for small businesses.

Senator Anthony was born and raised in Lansing’s south side. She has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and earned a master’s degree from Western Michigan University.

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