Tag: voting rights

As he launches his presidential campaign, Scott Walker compares Wisconsinites to special interests

Approximately 19 seconds into Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s presidential campaign announcement video, an unnamed narrator for the Walker campaign said that Walker “beat the special interests” over a video clip of progressive protesters supporting the unsuccessful recall attempt against Walker in 2012. At around the 39-second mark of the video, Walker himself spoke in front of the camera and talked about taking “power out of the hands of big government special interests”.

In reality, Walker compared the people of his state to special interests, while allowing special interests like big business interests and the school voucher lobby to benefit from the very big government that Walker rails against.

For Walker to compare Wisconsinites to special interests is not only false, it’s also offensive. More specifically, Walker compared Wisconsin progressives to special interests, and, having followed many of them on blogs and social media for the past few years, I can certainly say that they are not special interests. They’re people who want to make their state and their country a better place to live. They care about their communities, and they support workers’ rights, women’s rights, the middle class, open government, equality, and other progressive ideals. As Meghan Blake-Horst, a co-founder and the market manager of the MadCity Bazaar flea market in Madison, Wisconsin, put it, “Yes, we have special interests in feeding, educating and providing our kids a healthy place to grow up. And running our small businesses.” Comparing people like Blake-Horst to special interests dehumanizes people.

The truth about Walker’s record is that he and his political allies in Wisconsin have given special interests, such as big business interests and the school voucher lobby, effective control over Wisconsin’s state government. Those special interests have, in turn, helped Wisconsin’s state government, among other things, hand out tax breaks to the wealthy, give out tons of corporate welfare to businesses, privatize and cut funding from public K-12 education, cut funding from higher education, strip tenure away from college professors, make it harder for Wisconsinites to vote, make it harder for Wisconsin women to get the reproductive health care they want, bust unions, drive down wages, hurt Wisconsin’s economy, run up massive state budget deficits, and destroyed Wisconsin’s reputation. Martha Laning, the Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW), didn’t mince words one bit in her statement criticizing Walker as he launches his presidential campaign. Laning stated that Walker’s record “is one of unprecedented corruption, division, extremism and a failure to foster economic growth and opportunity”. Laning also took Walker to task over “stagnant” wages in Wisconsin, “job growth that’s dead last in the Midwest and trailing most of the nation”, a corporate welfare agency “that’s known more for scandal than economic development”, and a massive Wisconsin state budget deficit “created by his failed policies”.

While Scott Walker compares the people of his home state to special interests, the truth of the matter is that Walker is beholden to real special interests that own him and his political allies, and they’ve completely wrecked Wisconsin’s economy, reputation, and quality of life. If Walker is elected president, Walker, his political allies, and big-money special interests will turn America into a third-world country by enacting the same far-right political agenda they enacted in Wisconsin.

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The progressive case against compulsory voting

President Barack Obama recently announced that he supports making voting in the United States compulsory for those who are legally eligible to vote.

I know that I’m going to get a lot of flack from my fellow progressives over this, but I’m opposed to the idea of compulsory voting, in which people who are eligible to vote are legally required to do so.

While Republicans and conservatives oppose compulsory voting because it would likely benefit Democrats electorally, my opposition is for a completely different reason: I believe that compulsory voting violates the civil liberties of the American people. Yes, I’m opposing compulsory voting for the same reason I oppose, among other things, spying on the American people without a warrant and laws that restrict a woman’s right to make reproductive health decisions for herself.

While I strongly support amending the U.S. Constitution to give all U.S. citizens who are at least 18 years of age a constitutionally-protected right to vote, I believe that, while it would probably not be necessary to explicitly state this in a constitutional amendment or other type of law (I’m not an attorney, and I don’t claim to be one, but I’m guessing that the U.S. Constitution would probably have to be amended in order to allow for compulsory voting), those who are legally eligible to vote in this country should have a right to not vote if, for whatever reason, they don’t want to vote. While I believe that voting is a very important civic duty, and I would never discourage anyone from voting, I oppose the idea of forcing people to vote, as doing so would violate the civil liberties of those who decide not to vote.

Make no mistake about it, I strongly support many other measures to provide the American people with increased access to voting and make their vote actually matter, such as replacing the Electoral College with national popular vote presidential elections, restoring and strengthening the Voting Rights Act, implementing automatic voter registration, allowing same-day voter registration, making redistricting non-partisan and completely independent of state legislatures and other legislative bodies, making Election Day a national holiday, repealing the odious Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision via a federal constitutional amendment designed to get big money out of politics, having election authorities pay for postage on absentee ballots so that voters don’t have to pay for postage themselves, making it easier for candidates to get on the ballot, and requiring that elections be conducted in a fair, professional manner in order to allow those who are eligible and willing to vote to cast their ballots and to allow all votes to be properly counted. Additionally, I strongly oppose measures to suppress the vote and make America less democratic, such as voter ID laws and gerrymandering. However, I’m not going to support anything that violates the civil liberties of the American people.