As one of the fortunate veterans to have served his country, and make it back home, I am devastated to see that the biggest threat to our Democracy - and the basic, inalienable rights my fellow countryman gave their lives defending- is coming not from outside, but from within.

Already, hundreds of bills have been advanced by Republican-controlled legislatures across the country aimed at making voting harder, and more restrictive. Worse yet, these politicians are using the same doublespeak and racist code words that haunted our nation's past in order to justify their anti‑majoritarian actions. We saw these very same actions in Nazi Germany, and we see them now with the totalitarian regimes in Russia and Syria. We say to ourselves "that cannot happen here," but the sad truth is... it has already started.

America was founded on the principle that the people should decide their leaders in free, fair, and open elections. Not just rich Americans, or white Americans, or Americans who live in the cities - but all Americans regardless of ancestry or social status. I strongly urge Sens. Hoeven and Cramer and Rep. Armstrong to support the For the People Act and do the right thing: protect our right to vote.

If we turn a blind eye to voter suppression, and ignore the marginalization of our own neighbors because of the color of their skin, the person they love, or the faith they practice, then we turn a blind eye to everything the men and women of our armed forces have sworn to uphold and defend with their lives. A person never truly dies if the ideals of a free society live on. But, when that ideal is diminished, so diminishes the light of democracy that they helped shine upon the world.

Bruce Hagan lives in Bismarck.

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