This Is What Killing Democracy Looks Like: Ryan Wherley on WI AB225

Must-read guest post from my friend and frequent MoD contributor Ryan Wherley.  Original appears here.

AB225: This is What Killing Democracy Looks Like:

A Call to Action at the Capitol on Tuesday

by Ryan Wherley

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 225 (AB225) is quite possibly the most reprehensible bill that has been brought before the legislature since the thugs in Fitzwalkerstan took over Wisconsin in January 2011. Rather than do the dirty work of decimating our democratic process and electoral system in a series of terrible bills designed to take away the rights of citizens, Repugnant Representative Jeff Stone has decided to do away with everything in one fell swoop, in an all-encompassing bill to dismantle democracy.

There is a verse in the daily Solidarity Sing Along version of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" that reads:

Oh, I followed every action,
Tried to hold up and be brave.
But I could not hide my sorrow
When democracy was slain.

If the fateful night of March 9th, 2011, when the Republican Senate stripped the fiscal items out of the Budget Repair Bill and passed Act 10 in the middle of the night without any Democrats present, wasn't the moment that democracy in Wisconsin was slain, then the day that AB225 passes will be.

From the PR Watch article on the bill:

"The legislation is "so huge, covers so much ground, and has so many independently controversial parts of it," that it appears "intended to cut-out any public input or to render [that input] meaningless," says Andrea Kaminski, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin."

To make things even worse, this awful, sweeping legislation was presented last week and is being rammed through with its lone public hearing at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, June 4th in the Capitol in room 417 North (GAR Hall).  Conveniently enough, this lone, time-restricted hearing was chosen to be held at the EXACT SAME TIME that the Joint Finance Committee is discussing just how far down the rabbit hole they wish to go in destroying our public schools system through private school voucher expansion. What a fucking surprise.

The bill introduced by Jeff Stone is straight out of the ALEC playbook and an all-out, full-frontal assault on democracy. Government of the people, by the people and for the people? That's a dirty phrase in the Republican party caucus. Here's what this bill entails:

  • Re-institutes voter I.D. restrictions while humiliatingly forcing people to sign something saying they are too poor to afford voting identification; 
  • Virtually eliminates the ability to recall elected municipal and school officials;
  • Restricts early voting hours, hitting Democratic strongholds Milwaukee and Dane County especially hard; 
  • makes registering to vote more difficult by prohibiting the use of electronic documentation as proof of residency for registration; 
  • Limits restrictions on lobbyists, making it easier for them to influence votes; 
  • Allows for valid votes on ballots to be thrown out on technicalities; 
  • Increases the likelihood of undisclosed, dark money flooding our elections by lessening campaign contribution disclosure requirements; 
  • Establishes the right of corporations to donate to election campaigns with impunity, essentially cementing the U.S. Supreme Court FEC v. Citizens United ruling at the state level...further protecting corporations' shady political activities in Wisconsin.
This is absolutely outrageous. Needless to say, I am putting out the call for as many people to get down to the Capitol on Tuesday as can possibly get there. Wear red to support public education, attend the JFC session, testify against AB225 or show up to officially register your opposition, write and/or call your legislators, attend the Solidarity Sing Along at noon, bring your most creative protest signs. Most importantly...just do whatever you can possibly do to make your voices heard.

Even if those in power refuse to listen, it is our duty to bear witness to the destruction of our state and of our rights. We must ensure that the historical record show that this increasing slide into fascism was vehemently opposed by citizens who expressed their dissent, disgust and defiance for the world to see.

I, for one, outright refuse to stand idly by and allow them to quietly go about their business of dismantling our state at an increasingly rapid pace. It is not only our right, but our DUTY to stand up, speak out and fight back against injustice wherever it lurks.

A button I recently purchased states: “If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." Right now in Wisconsin, let's just say there is a hell of a lot that Scott Walker and his legislative attack dogs are doing over which to be outraged. What we're seeing play out right in front of our eyes is much worse than what played out in 2011 and led to the historically massive Budget Repair Bill protests, especially when you consider that most of the terrible things they did and terrible legislation they passed in the past two years are now in full effect.

These are not partisan issues. These attacks are undoubtedly designed to go after voting blocs who are voting against the national, extreme right-wing agenda steamrolling across Wisconsin. However, in doing so, the "Republican" saboteurs are unleashing attacks on the fundamental framework of a successful democracy and on the basic rights of citizens of our once-great and progressive-minded state.

On the day back in February that Scott Walker was scheduled to present his biennial budget to the state, I wrote:

"During a particularly vindictive and ominous rant last January, Senate Majority Leader and Walker rubber-stamp Scott Fitzgerald was quoted as saying, 'If you think this budget was scary, wait until the next one.'

Well, the “next one” is nearly upon us. If Feb. 11, 2011 was the day that Scott Walker “dropped the bomb” on the citizens of Wisconsin, Feb. 20, 2013 will be the day Scott Walker unleashes the full nuclear arsenal at his disposal. I don’t know how much more of Scott Walker’s “caring” we will be able to withstand before irreparable harm has been done to our once-progressive Wisconsin."

But it isn't just the budget that is crushing us. The full nuclear arsenal has been unleashed in a torrential wave of abominably regressive legislation out of every committee in the legislature and in every corner of the budget. The time for rest, self-pitying and heads buried in the sand has long since gone by for the citizens of this state. It's time to wake the hell up and join (or rejoin) the fight to reclaim Wisconsin from the throes of tyranny. Lord knows the Teahadists in power most certainly aren't planning on easing off the throttle any time soon.

I can't wait to stare these tyrants in the face and give them a piece of my mind when I testify against AB225 on Tuesday...even though they assuredly won't like and more than likely won't even bother listening to what I have to say. I will see you at the Capitol. FORWARD!!

UPDATE (6/3/13): The Committee on Campaigns and Elections will also be taking up Assembly Joint Resolution 25, "Relating to: recall of elected officers and a code of ethics for government officials (first consideration)" during this same hearing.  This will assuredly be part of the Fitzwalkerstanis' attempts to pass a constitutional amendment outlawing recall of state-level elected officials for any reason other than official criminal misconduct.  So...yet another plot to rip the democratic process out of the hands of the Wisconsin citizenry.  Lucky us.

Here is the PR Watch article:

Here is my article from February on Scott Walker's budget:

Here is the text of the bill:

Here is the list of Wisconsin legislators with their contact information:

Here is the Facebook event promoting the Day of Action to stop AB225:

Here is the Facebook event promoting the Day of Action to save our public schools:

No comments:

Post a Comment