Thursday, April 28, 2011

Will we fight for the right to vote?

I am waiting for the righteous outcry against the proposed voter I.D./voter suppression legislation that could be before our state legislature this next month. This is the one mentioned in yesterday's post: mandating that voters show a government issued photo ID when they vote, prohibiting the use of student photo IDs, and creating a significant hurdle for those without drivers' licenses (the poor, many elderly, new immigrant citizens, etc. - folks that tend not to vote for rightist authoritarian politicians like we have in our state government right now).

Added now to this bill is language that would sharply restrict absentee balloting and voter registration efforts, move primary elections from September to August when fewer people are around to vote, and end straight-ticket voting.

And you thought the threat to public worker collective bargaining rights was the big thing to worry about?  I mean, it's one thing to protest to defend those rights within the framework of a democratic system, but, friends, they are trying to take our democracy away from us, using all sorts of means to try to suppress the vote, decimate funding for the Democratic Party, and control election outcomes. This is scary stuff, and it is not only happening here. The NY Times addressed this in an editorial the other day, The Republican Threat To Voting. Please, please, read it.

A snippet:

...more than 30 other states are joining the bandwagon of disenfranchisement, as Republicans outdo each other to propose bills with new voting barriers. The Wisconsin bill refuses to recognize college photo ID cards, even if they are issued by a state university, thus cutting off many students at the University of Wisconsin and other campuses...

Many of these bills were inspired by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a business-backed conservative group, which has circulated voter ID proposals in scores of state legislatures. The Supreme Court, unfortunately, has already upheld Indiana’s voter ID requirement, in a 2008 decision that helped unleash the stampede of new bills. Most of the bills have yet to pass, and many may not meet the various balancing tests required by the Supreme Court. There is still time for voters who care about democracy in their states to speak out against lawmakers who do not.

Are we fully appreciating what is going on here yet? 

So I return to my question. I know that folks feel the threat to their livelihoods, their wages and benefits, the government services that are lifelines for our society (like public schools and universities, like Medicaid and BadgerCare and Social Security, trash collection and recycling, etc.). But have we become too complacent about democracy itself not to recognize when it is under severe threat? After all , most of us don't even bother to vote, so will we notice or even care when that right is gone for millions of us across the country, or severely restricted here in the state where we live - restricted enough that rightist authoritarian corporate sponsored groups can manipulate results and control our governments?

I wish I was not overstating the case. Wisconsinites, make your voices heard about this legislation which is about to come down on us while many of us are looking somewhere else. This is the issue that should bind us together like nothing else. Whatever our differences, we all share this democracy. It is in need of our defense - right now!

No comments:

Post a Comment