Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Only democracy can stop the assault on democracy

What happened again yesterday - reiteration of the restraining order on the union busting bill, the assertion by the state attorney general's office that it will not abide by it - is just another expression of a broad and dangerous assault on democratic government here in Wisconsin.  Sadly, we're not alone.

I wish it was not necessary to sound so dire, but unless we fully understand this, and unless all of us who care about these things - organizers, writers, workers, unemployed, folks of all colors and backgrounds who are under threat of losing the rights we hold dear - recognize what is going on, these efforts will fall short.

Again, just to put this in context - there is an effort underway in states around the country to give government to corporations, to give them the benefits of tax credits, tax breaks, or, as in the case of G.E., no taxes at all, to assign natural resources to them for exploitation accompanied by weakened environmental regulations, while workers and unemployed are being consigned to the margins of the economy, if they have any place in it at all.

Here is one of the reasons that this corporate takeover has happened: low voter participation, and even lower levels of political advocacy on the part of citizens who have most to lose in this process.

But more is at work - read this article from yesterday's NY Times very carefully to get a sense of what I mean. The Supreme Court is reviewing an AZ law that provides matching funds to candidates who accept public money for their campaigns. Many fear that this will be Citizens United to the nth degree. If the court strikes down AZ's public financing law, it could have a cascading effect across the country. That would mean that corporate donors would become THE single largest source of funds for political campaigns.

Is this what the framers of the Constitution had in mind? Is this what you have in mind when you think about your right to vote to decide who will represent you?

Right now the Walker regime has more in mind than busting unions, and therefore a major funding source of the Democratic Party, as well as a strong grassroots organizing base for voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts. They are also trying to suppress voter rights. Why do they want to do this? Bet you can guess.

Before democracy loses any more ground, citizens need to get active in suppressing the participation of corporations and their money, reasserting a culture in which citizens carry the rights to decide elections, not corporate money, and reaffirming a culture of voter activism and participation.

Will voters turn out next week in this critical Wisconsin election? If not, we will have only ourselves to blame if we find our political rights swiftly eroding.

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