If the leadership of the Wisconsin Democratic Party was at all creative, they should have a campaign motto along the lines of Re-Democratize Wisconsin: Vote Democratic.
The reason is simple: Since Scott Walker became governor of this state in 2010, and since Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos came to power at that same time, Republicans have worked long and hard to de-democratize the state.
It began with the egregious gerrymandering of the 7th U.S. Congressional District; it peaked with the actions they took in the infamous Lame Duck session after Walker was defeated in 2018.
Recently I read a book, “How Democracies Die,” by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, the overall theme being that in functioning democracies there are formal, written rules established by constitutions and legislative actions that govern the behavior of leaders.
If the legitimacy of political actions is questioned, there are courts to make judgments. But there is more to it. There are also unwritten, informal rules and procedures, based on the concept of “the loyal opposition” that make the system work, and when such rules are violated, well, whether the system can survive in the long run is questionable. That’s the issue that faces us today.
So back to that despicable 2018 Lame Duck legislation. From 2010 until 2018 Republicans controlled the governorship and both the Assembly and the Senate and for most of the time the attorney general’s position. So, in 2018, voters finally had their fill of Scott Walker. His abysmal presidential campaign opened the eyes of many regarding his actual political talents and he was defeated by now Gov. Tony Evers.
Now, during the previous eight years of control, Republicans evidently did not feel that the governor or the attorney general had too much power. Thus they did absolutely nothing to alter the power of these two positions. However, after losing those positions in 2018, out of the blue they suddenly realized both offices were too powerful, so in that unprecedented Lame Duck Session, they voted to reduce the powers of the newly elected governor and attorney general. Legal? Yes, at least according to the conservative stacked State Supreme Court.
Undemocratic, unpatriotic and a blatant violation of the concept of “the loyal opposition,” and thus another step in the dying process of a democracy? Another yes. A resounding yes!
That kind of partisan bull dozing, in the long run, is what seriously damages that thing we term “the democratic process.” I believe in the forthcoming general election, members of the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly who disgustingly voted for such blatantly partisan measures should be held accountable, and their abhorrent action should be highlighted during the campaign. Do not those GOP cronies realize that those kind of tactics might well come back to haunt them someday?
Oh, I almost forgot. Did not now Congressman Tom Tiffany, as a GOP State Senator, cast one of those snide, cynical, undemocratic Lame Duck votes? You may want to remember that come Nov. 3. Voting for Tricia Zunker rather than Tiffany for Congress strikes me as being wise step in attempting to help re-democratize this state.
Jerry Buerer of Wausau
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