And, for the Rich, there will be no end to the return on their investment in the Boy Governor and the lock-step legislature they bought in 2010. The environment will be exploited and destroyed; state functions will be privatized and handed to well-connected contractors on a grand scale; the poor and working class will be targeted with huge cuts to medical care, child care, food stamps and rent assistance; regulations that protect the health, welfare and natural resources of Wisconsinites will be unenforced and outright eliminated; and public education will be defunded and undermined. And, of course, there will be the right’s favorite kind of income redistribution: tax cuts. Money that used to be spent on your Badger Care Plus will now fund the new motor on John Menard’s boat. Without so much as a “thank you”.
Yep – Wisconsin is Open for Business, alright, and screw the rest of y’all. But, for all their supposed faith in Trickle Down economics and alleged focus on jobs, jobs, jobs, the Republicans have something more important as the first order of business on Day 1. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald promises to skip all the silly jobs stuff (perhaps knowing that throwing money at the Rich isn’t going to create one job, anyway) and go straight to the destruction of democracy in Wisconsin. Job One: requiring Photo ID from voters and eliminating on-site registration.
Having spent three of the last four election days as a poll-watcher in Wisconsin polling places – in Crandon in ‘04, and the last two in the City of Milwaukee – I will mourn the death of the free, uncomplicated, friendly process I have had the privilege of observing as a member of the Democratic Party’s Voter Protection program. All of our training – open to any Republican or Tea Bagger who cared to attend – was designed to make sure anyone who showed up at the polls was able to vote if they were eligible. The presumption in every polling place was that citizens were coming in to exercise their sacred franchise in good faith. As it should be. But, in a bold and cynical move to preserve their own power now and, perhaps, forever, the Republicans are going to turn that presumption on its head. Starting as soon as next month in the spring primary elections, you will be presumed guilty of voter fraud until you prove otherwise.
Despite endless squawking off of GOP talking points by talk-radio Republicans who know better, this has nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with voter suppression. That we know of – and, believe me, you would have heard about it – no one has ever misrepresented themselves and voted under somebody else's name. No one has been caught abusing the on-site registration system by voting somewhere other than where they live. A few felons and other people who weren’t supposed to have voted, but, out of the millions of voters in Wisconsin every cycle, you can almost count them on two hands. More importantly – and contrary to the constant claims by GOP shills like Mark Belling Charlie Sykes that Democrats have “stolen” elections – no one has ever shown that any of the scofflaws were part of any organized campaign of voter fraud.
Photo ID is not even a solution looking for a problem; it is a hijacking of the electoral system by a party that knows no shame in their blatant propagation of lies (through talk radio and Fox News) to suppress voters who might not support them. The Journal Sentinel editorial board – who, due to their idiotic endorsement of Walker, will have the forthcoming death of Wisconsin’s progressive government on its bloody hands – is too kind in its mild wrist-slap of Fitzgerald’s rush to grab ballots out of the hands of the poor, the elderly and the unphotographed. The editorial presumes a modicum of good faith by those who have none. Photo ID doesn’t just have “the potential to dampen more legitimate votes”. It is designed to do just that.
But this is only the beginning. The Republicans who are about to take over the State Capitol are not your father’s GOP, or even your older brother’s. Tommy Thompson was a greedy thug who rewarded his friends and punished non-supporters back in the ‘90s, but he kept the basic structure and mission of the state government in place. These guys coming in tomorrow are a new generation of radical right-wing revolutionaries, who will destroy state government as we know it; and make sure – through old schemes like redistricting and new ones like Photo ID – that they hold on to power for a generation. You won’t be able to recognize your polling place in the spring. And you won’t recognize your state government after they are done with it.
Atop the Capitol, Miss Forward will strain to maintain her composure as the Republicans open the blueprints devised by GOP consultants in Washington and begin to dismantle state government in the service of their corporate masters. On January 3rd, at noon, shed a tear for her and for us. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
UPDATE: One thing I didn't think I missed during my hiatus were the comments I often got from unbalanced anonymous Republicans. Many were stupid, which you'd expect, but others were uncomfortably hostile (the worst of which did not survive my screening -- here's a sample). But, I must say, this one I got today takes the cake:
You forgot Mike...not only is it easy for the "teabagger" as you put it to vote but (here is where we find out how tolerant you are) it is easy for the "acorn nigger or spic" to steal that vote by doing it illegally. We have names of those that voted illegally either more than once or in the wrong district so the Barrett crowd of only one name does not work cause we have names...of those that voted, and thereby stole my vote, illegally.Brilliant, no? No. But the comment offers the kind of clarity you don't often see about who they (or too many of them) are and why we fight.