Thursday, May 12, 2011

Losing our democracy

Wisconsin's democracy was significantly eroded last night with the passing of the Voter I.D. law in the assembly (note to opponents of the bill: 2 Democrats voted with the Repubs. All assembly members who voted for this need to hear from constituents, but especially Peggy Krusick of Milwaukee and Tony Staskunas of West Allis).

Here's what I want to say about this: rightist racists in this country, some of them very powerful corporate political actors (yes, I do mean you among them, Koch brothers), some of them politicians in state and federal government, are stunned that we have an African-American president, that he remains popular no matter how much they try to demean or discredit him (the reaction to the appearance of Common at the White House is beyond revealing of the racist undertones of much of the opposition).

What I want to say is that this voter I.D. law and others like it around the country are intended to make sure something like this does not happen again. Two of Prez Obama's biggest constituencies are African-Americans and students. In our state, in part because of our long history of racism (I grew up with this, so I know what I am talking about), poverty has affected African-Americans most especially in this city of Milwaukee.

So, voter I.D. - make it harder for people who are poor to vote, and make it harder for students to vote.

And, really, this is about stopping voter fraud, that nearly nonexistent problem?

What do I say to my poll volunteers when I go to the same table with the same people and they have to ask for an I.D. and none of us believe in this violation of our voting rights?

I hear these Repubs say that it will make us all feel more confident in the voting process. Really, guys who are trying to weaken and limit democracy, you guys who try to pass laws by bypassing rules, quick votes when you hope no one is noticing or can create a ruckus, you who right now walk right around the overwhelming opposition to many of your policies now that people know what they are - and you care neither for this opposition or even for creating the spaces for it to be expressed - you're going to lecture us on trust in the democratic process?

I'm going to say this because it is true - certainly there are people who sincerely believe in this agenda thinking it might make a better world, but that is not what Walker and the Fitzgerald brothers are about. To understand what they are about, all one need to is a little reading and research on the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Cato Institute (another Koch-funded group), Americans for Prosperity, Heartland Institute - the list is long - rightist corporate backed groups who are trying to steal our public money, eliminate government, and undermine democracy itself in the cause of a global market running rampant and free for their benefit.

For a one-stop website to look at the background of these and other such groups, visit SourceWatch. You will find plenty here to unnerve and alarm you.

The first step in exercising one's demoratic rights is to be well-informed, well-armed, if you will, with information. The first step is to know what's really going on so that we aren't manipulated by media messages of the same people behind these rightist groups and their anti-democratic agenda.

The rally on Saturday needs to get to the heart of the matter. The assault on collective bargaining rights is symptom, not the fundamental cause. The fundamental cause is the attack on democracy itself so that the corporate right can have its way with the national and global economy - and trust me, friends, not for the betterment of the common good or the good of the commons.

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