After sitting like a stump, glassy-eyed, while Scott Walker and her other radical Republican buddies used illegal legislative tricks to take a blunt ax to public employee collective bargaining and other important aspects of the social fabric, “my” state senator, Alberta Darling, is suddenly pretending to be independent.
Threatened with now-certain recall, she has been given permission by the ruling junta to peel off on minor issues that Walker will win on anyway, such as looting the general fund for the benefit of wealthy GOP donors in the Roadbuilders Association (the state equivalent of the defense industry), the end of the state’s commitment to recycling and the attempt to throw seniors seeking prescription drugs out on the streets of the more expensive, less-adequate and Ryan-threatened federal Medicare program.
But these issues are small, half-baked potatoes compared with the the overall gist of the radical Republican jihad still driving disastrous policies in Madison. For all of her mild scratching at the thin veneer of FitzWalkerstan’s disembowelment of Wisconsin state government as-we-know-it, Darling is all-in for the Koch-driven Unfortunate Revolution. Her handlers have even pulled out spin from the Nixon era, having her declare that a “silent majority” of Wisconsinites are supposedly all for tax cuts for the rich, union-busting, the decimation of BadgerCare, state control over local government decision-making, slashing school funding and shared revenue, giving handouts to the rich to supplement their kids’ attendance at Marquette High School, taking dozens of positions out of the civil service system to provide patronage positions for the sons of Walker contributors and the mistresses of also-recalled state senators, etc.
Despite all of this toadying behavior, Darling will try to flaunt her supposed independence in her upcoming, heavily-funded campaign to save her sorry ass from recall. In fact, her campaign already has ads up on heavy rotation claiming just that. The inevitable protection that will no doubt be provided by the right-wing Journal Sentinel notwithstanding, that should be a hard sell, as she continues to back the worst parts of the governor’s budget and is on-board with all other pieces of the Republican plan to decimate Wisconsin government.
In fact, she has already signed up as a co-sponsor of yet another outrageous power-grab by the Republicans. After a month of relative calm in the Capitol, the radicals roared to life this week, beginning the process of ramming a revised version of the vicious attack on Wisconsin democracy known as the Photo ID voting bill through the legislature. Darling’s sponsorship of the measure designed to disenfranchise tens of thousands of eligible Wisconsin voters puts the lie to any notion that she is moderate, independent or anything other than a rubber-stamp for whatever Walker’s puppet-masters in right-wing Washington think-tanks want.
With one of the WMC Four on the Supreme Court (apparently) just barely squeaking by in the April election, it is not a surprise the anti-democracy Republicans would move quickly to make sure that never happens again. The new version of the Photo ID bill (AB7) contains some interesting post-Prosser attempts to disenfranchise potential Democrats far beyond the bad-enough photo ID requirement.
- Student IDs were not included as valid identification in the latest bill, necessarily disenfranchising thousands of students who have no reason to run to the DMV while going to school at the various state campuses. Now, the Badger Herald reports (this proud Daily Cardinal alum is quoting the BH, which started as a right-wing prop? Uh, yeah…) that student IDs are now included, as long as they have a current address on them. I’ll leave it to you and your memories of your transient college days to decide how practical that is, assuming colleges statewide change their policies to include a campus address on the IDs.
- In recent years, you have not had to declare a reason why you wanted to vote absentee before doing so. This has led to a dramatic increase in absentee voting – from 6% to 21%. All this democracy run amok was apparently too much for the Republicans, who now would now only reinstate the requirement that a reason be stated but also reduce the absentee voting window from 30 to 7 days before the election.
- You just moved to your new crib three weeks ago and want to vote in your new district? Good luck, pal – go back to where you came from and vote there. The bill changes residency from 10 to 28 days before the election. Was that place you came from somewhere far away or out-of-state? Aw, poor baby. No voting for Democrats for you.
- Hey, let’s take up the challenge of the new bad law and have a bunch of registration drives! Yeah – good luck with that. The bill eliminates the age-old ability of advocacy organizations on all sides to get their members certified by county clerks to seek and collect registration cards. No more. You either go to the county clerk yourself or wait to register at the polls; a process that is retained only to avoid the federal requirement of motor-voter registration at the DMV, another too-much-democracy bugaboo for Republicans.
Alberta Darling is all for this attack on the very democratic process that elected her and that has worked well in Wisconsin to make it easy and effective to exercise our essential right to vote. It is just one part of the radical Republican agenda that should be rejected in the upcoming recall elections and forward.
The only difference between Photo ID and the rest of the radical Republican agenda in Madison is that we knew Photo ID was coming. So much of the rest of it – from the union-busting; to the defunding of education and local government; to the seizing of control from local governments to the state – was not part of the Walker campaign or any of the other Republicans who took power in January. Recall itself is a drastic measure – a re-do made necessary by radical overreaching and the abuse of unchecked power. Lock-step Republican flunkies like Alberta Darling will feel the wrath of an outraged electorate this year. Next year, it’s Scott Walker’s turn.