It’s very disappointing and depressing to me that Wisconsin voters to such a great extent fell for the Republican/Tea Party propaganda line and handed the Democrats one of the most sweeping defeats in the nation. Not only have they turfed out Russ Feingold, possibly the most progressive member of the Senate, in favor of empty suit Ron Johnson, but also given over the governor’s office and both houses of the state legislature to the Republican party.
It’s bad enough that Republicans now have control of the US House of Representatives. If John Boehner in fact becomes Speaker, with his avowed purpose to “make Obama a one-term president”, the President's appeal today to find common ground will fall on deaf ears, and we can look forward to two years of gridlock in Federal matters, which may not be a bad thing, considering the alternative.
The alternative is what we will have in Wisconsin state matters. I know how reactionary rural Wisconsin can be, with even relatively cosmopolitan areas like Appleton and Green Bay being hotbeds of the crypto-fascist “Posse Comitatus” movement. With one-party rule, we can look forward to an Arizona-like festival of regressive legislation aimed at dismantling the state’s domestic partner registry, crippling the nation’s most advanced stem cell research program, enacting draconian anti-abortion and probably anti-contraception legislation, and in general a movement to take Wisconsin back to a 1950’s era when Joe McCarthy was a popular Senator. There will be action to “opt out” of the new health care laws, nobble the high-speed rail project, and probably some sort of immigration legislation, not that that’s actually a huge issue here, but it’s part of the “teabag”. All of this will be approved by Gov. Scott “Dr. No” Walker, and supported by Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who has already proven himself an apt partisan tool. Not to mention upheld by those members of the state Supreme Court bought and paid for by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. AND this legislature will get to do redistricting under the oversight of a United States Supreme Court that has already declared itself tolerant of egregious gerrymandering.
So, for the foreseeable future, any positive legislative or economic action in Wisconsin is dead, dead, dead. As a white, middle-class, urban, employed, heterosexual male, I probably won’t be directly impacted by too much of this, but I have friends who likely will be, and of course the continuing class warfare by the rich against the middle class, including restricting access to redress of grievances in court, and dismantling safety and consumer protection laws, concerns me. And I’m sure that living in the political Elbonia of the Midwest is going to be depressing on a day-to-day basis.
The one positive thing to look forward to is that we will probably actually get a concealed-carry law out of it, but having every other right we have eroded in order to get it is a damned high price to pay. I just hope they stick with the reasonable versions that have previously been passed but vetoed, and don’t go all-out for something stupid like the Arizona no-permit-required law.
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