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Sunday, March 6, 2011

One-Party State?

That’s a phrase you hear when people used to talk about the old Soviet Union (and maybe the new Russia), and you still hear applied to China, amidst all the praise it gets as an engine of capitalist enterprise.But does Rat smell the rotting cheese of a one-party state in Wisconsin? There certainly is no law or decree in the offing to ban all political parties but for a state-sanctioned one. But Wisconsin Republicans are edging ever closer to building an electoral system that shoots steroids into their body politic, while the Democratic political apparatus gets the health care equivalent of impossibly high deductibles.

Lines of Authority

The first win in this political trifecta hews to the long-established, non-partisan and hideously undemocratic tradition of giving the mapping software for drawing legislative districts over the party in power in the year after the decennial census. By virtue of their sweeping victories in November, state Republicans totally control the mouse that will draw the district lines this time. And true to tradition owned by both parties, they will draw district lines that create “safe seats” for their side. Those Republican-advantage seats will be cemented into place until 2022.

Is That Really You in That Photo?

The second win in the trifecta is not quite law yet, but is bound to pass. Republicans have promoted a “voter ID” bill to force voters to show a photo ID at the polls in order to vote. Democrats have declared as bogus the Republican claims this bill is intended to limit fraud, given there is actually very little voter fraud. The voters most likely affected by voter ID requirements are old people (many don’t drive anymore), students (they move around a lot, and the Wisconsin legislation wouldn’t allow student IDs), and poor people, who often don’t own cars and therefore have no driver’s licenses. The latter two communities are reliable Democratic constituents, and Voter ID may inconvenience enough of them that they don’t bother to vote (Democratic).

The Don’ts of Dues

The third win in the trifecta is not policy yet, and it is at the heart of the political turmoil that has rocked the state down to the deepest rat holes from Madison to Manitowish Waters. Governor Walker has proposed that the public employee unions’ employers (state and local government, school districts) no longer be required to collect dues from public workers on behalf of their union organization.

Those dues fund a lot of things for unions, and no small part of that cash goes to election campaigns. If unions – which are Democrats’ most effective machine of organized people and organized money – can’t put the same team on the playing field as Republicans can, Democratic candidates will have a much harder time winning elections.

Oh, one more Republican advantage (does that make this a quadrifecta?): that party is by far the greater beneficiary of the so-called Citizens United Supreme Court decision, making corporations “persons” and allowing them to throw a lot more money into elections. Big Business often hedges its political bets, giving money to candidates from both parties. But if one party clearly has wrested control of the political machinery, why bother with the lesser party that’s been so weakened it can’t win?

One ironic outcome of cutting off the unions’ dues-collecting ability is that, at least in the next couple of years, given the indignities of the Walker proposals, they could end up raising more money than through their usual means.

We rats disagree vigorously about strategies to evade rat poisons and rat traps, but in the end we are united opposing all rat controls. People with Republican leanings might not like Democratic policies, but they can’t want a sterile, monaural political system.

Would they?

1 comment:

  1. You've got to understand, these folks think they are the "real Americans" (seriously). Stinky Union workers from the pulp mills, stinkier hippies from the Ocooch and those old-timers who fondly remember Roosevelt need not apply. Think of the WI GOP as practicing political Ethnic Cleansing.