Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Assembly Committee Repubs approve voter suppression legislation

The dismantling of Wisconsin's government and broad democracy continued yesterday in the Repub-dominated Assembly Committee on Elections and Campaign Reform. With Sen. Alberta Darling leading the way, the committee approved the new voter ID law intended to suppress voting rights, targeting students, elderly, and the poor, populations most likely to vote for Democrats.

This follows a national pattern in several states intended to bolster the power of Repubs at the cost of their opposing party and democracy itself.

Let's be clear: this is not about voter fraud, the great faux issue the Repubs say they are addressing. Voter fraud in this state is a problem being invented, one that barely registers on the 'dangers-to-democracy' radar. The real threat to democracy is coming from the right, funded by corporations and the groups they support, like Karl Rove's GPS Crossroads, the Koch brothers funded Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party and Club for Growth, and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

For years, these groups have been trying to get a hold on the electoral system itself to manipulate it to their benefit. I need to remind myself over and over again that the Repub Party they are using as their tool, in this state, in Michigan, Maine, and elsewhere, is not the Repub Party of my parents' generation. This is a party that has been taken over by billionaires (Rove's group is funded almost entirely by billionaires' money), rightist corporations like Koch Industries and Exxon Mobil, for the purpose of reshaping our country to something that ressembles the days of the robber barons and Tammany Hall, back to the days when powerful white business groups ran corrupt political machines and controlled political parties and local and state governments without the restrictions of things like human and civil rights, labor unions, environmental laws, or broad-based popular democracy.

Again, as I wrote yesterday, I wish I was using hyperbole and exaggeration to get attention.

So, we were all in the streets over collective bargaining rights for public workers and the assault on the middle class. Will these same people be willing to go into the streets to defend the right to vote for poor people, inner city neighborhoods, African-Americans, students, and the elderly? I am just not feeling the same urgency that came with the assault on collective bargaining - and you can be sure they are counting on that.  It has been a long time since the people of this country went into the streets to defend the right to vote - and that came from the disenfranchised by way of the civil rights movement some 50 years ago now.

Source: New World Encyclopedia
Recall our history: most expansions of the right to vote - women's suffrage and the civil rights movement as our preeminent examples - came from persistent struggle, came from movements and protests. We had to struggle at every turn to broaden democracy to the point where it became that - democracy, not rule by the elite.

According to the morning paper, Darling and Leibham of Sheboygan were insistent on banning all forms of student IDs. They don't want students - with rights as profound and inalienable as theirs or yours or mine - to be able to exercise their right to vote. What they want, my friends, is the ability to dismantle government and hand the public sector over to the corporate sector without pushback or the inconvenience of organized political opposition.

Example? The other thing they did yesterday - the budget committee voted to repeal the regional transit authorities that were created to promote and build commuter rail from Milwaukee to Kenosha. They want them to go away. The road-building lobby which lavished funds on Walker's campaign want more cement poured, more traffic congestion, more neighborhoods and habitats destroyed, for their profit.

...while gas prices are approaching all-time records.

I can't say this strongly enough - our Wisconsin political system and much of the quality of life in our state is under threat from this regime. And I guess we are about to find out just how much we care about those things.
Okay, but is this true?

None of this stuff has become law - yet.  But we are running out of time. While all this anti-Walker regime energy gets focused on the recalls, the vote on Walker's biennium budget will take place before those elections. In fact, the Repubs will use every legal maneuver available to them to keep those elections from happening before the vote on the budget.  Sure would be nice to see some of the energy go where it needs to go now.  Sure would be good to see folks called back to the Capitol to reclaim our rights and our democracy.

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