Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Voting Day - more about what's at stake

I vote. I always vote. Even when it seems to make no difference at all, still I vote. I remember from my youth what it means to not have that right. I remember the police dogs and hoses, the marches in Selma and elsewhere in the South, the beatings, even the killings, as folks struggled, organized, agitated for the right to vote.

Here in Wisconsin they are predicting a 20% turnout statewide for today's elections. Pathetic. We are voting for a seat on the State Supreme Court, the court charged with guaranteeing our constitutional rights. We have 2 candidates of vastly differing judicial and political philosophies and values. We have had millions spent on TV ads, several public debates, and lots of vitriol slung by ideologues, especially on the right.

Outside my polling place - not bad, eh?
Are we really going to behave as if this doesn't matter - not even enough for the inconvenience of taking a few minutes to stop at the polls?

Locally we also have a special election to complete the year left in Gov Walker's term as Milwaukee County Executive, neither candidate much to write home about. But one is closely associated with Walker, so the contest took on all sorts of extra weight, seen as an early referendum on the gov himself.

For local readers, you know what I'm talking about. Lots at stake here in terms of making a statement on Walker's intentions for the state.

Speaking of which, today's top story: Walker's great payback to the road builders who lavished such generous cash on his campaign last year: Walker beefs up transport funding.  One of the things that first gave Walker national notoriety was when he turned down the feds $810 million for high-speed rail that would have connected Milwaukee to Madison and eventually all the way to Minneapolis, part of Obama's plan to unite our major cities with high speed rail lines, a wonderful more planet-saving alternative to flying. But Walker and his road building guys don't like that idea. They want more pavement. They want wider freeways. They want more traffic and congestion.

Yesterday we highlighted the hiring of the 27-yr-old son of Wisconsin Builders Association lobbyist Jerry Deschane, Brian Deschane, a guy with scant credentials or experience, to a $81,500-per-yr job in the Walker administration. According to this report:
"The group's political action committee gave $29,000 to the campaigns of Walker and his running mate, putting it among the campaign's top donors... members of the trade group also funneled more than $92,000 to Walker's campaign over the past two years, bringing the contribution total to $121,652."
Now, of course, the job, the funding, has nothing to do with any of this. The kid is really, really qualified how? I mean, how stupid do they think we are?

On the other hand, if all that is at stake for us right now, if all we know at this point of the intentions of the Walker administration for our state, still does not get us to the polling booth - then how stupid are we? Will a just, uncorrupt, decent government simply fall from the sky?

The voter turnout today may be as significant a result for our state as the outcomes of the elections themselves. And it will certainly say something about the work we have ahead of us if we are to reclaim a government of, by, and for the people.

So c'mon, friends - prove them wrong. VOTE!

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