Wisconsin Voters Need To Be More Like Packer Fans


The signers of the Declaration of Independence knew their signatures might very well land them at the end of a rope for treasonous actions.  In 1864, when our nation warred with itself, a presidential election was held.  In 1918, when another pandemic plagued the globe and killed over 600,00 people in our nation, mid-term elections were successfully held.  In the most vexing of circumstances, the wheel of politics and democracy in this land rolled onwards.  That very spirit, from the birth of this nation through the pandemic we now face, must continue with Wisconsinites making sure the Spring Election takes place, and in numbers that make far more than a political point. 

A couple weeks ago I marveled at the spirit of those living in portions of Tennesse, where tornadoes had leveled swaths of communities.  The morning ‘hell-from-on-high’ storms lashed down but did not close polls for that day’s primaries.  As I watched the returns that evening on the cable channels it was uplifting to see the resolve of the citizens who still participated in the most fundamental responsibility we have as citizens.  Voting.

The coverage reminded me how more uneasy the folks in Tennessee might have felt had the storms undid the local elections.  When governments postpone, for example, elections, it allows for more of a panic mode to hover about.  In these times it is most important to have some norms, especially ones that strike to the foundations of our democracy, continue.  It is important citizens know they have a stake in our future, and a say in our governing process, especially when things seem most dire.

There is no denying the potent nature of COVID-19 or understanding the absolute necessity for social distancing.  Heeding advice from our government, and following the directives from health experts is a necessity.  But at the same time, the need for collective action to demonstrate that the underpinnings of our state (and country) remain strong must continue.  Our Spring Election must be one of those avenues when we send a concerted message about unity and purpose, and it can be done safely.

It is obvious that almost every facet of our lives has been upended due to the virus.  From workplaces to music venues, restaurants to gyms, our world has shrunk to the homes we live in and lawns outside our picture windows.  Hunkering down is the best way we fight back against the virus.  But we must not allow for the virus to attack the very underpinning of our governing process, and the most essential of that framework is our elections.

Absentee balloting is the most appropriate way to cast a ballot in the upcoming elections. We all can be enormously heartened that so many of our fellow citizens have exercised their right in this manner.  In so doing they are using caution but also limiting the hardships which will be on the shoulders of the poll workers the day of the election.  To assist in making same-day voting easier there will be curbside balloting.  Special precautions for those who choose, for whatever reason, to cast a ballot in-person April 7th will be provided.  As it should be.

We all can have our views regarding the efficacy of mail-in ballots for the whole state and how best to ensure safe elections.  We all can line up with either Governor Tony Evers or the leadership of the state legislature.  We can have strong opinions, and should!  For the record, I come from an old-school way of thinking about elections.  To the extent that our state now–and our nation as this year proceeds–can conduct our elections in the manner that is most familiar to my fellow citizens—as well as for the poll workers (which I was one)–it should do so.

But at the end of this debate, it is absolutely essential that the election process not be upended by the virus.  We simply can not allow one of the causalities of this pandemic to be the glue of our democracy.  Our elections.  And the right to cast a ballot.

Wisconsinites are a hearty band of folks.  Consider that no snowstorm or cold front is too much for Green Bay Packer fans at Lambeau Field.  Packer fans do not go in light clothes but instead bundle up in layers galore.  That same spirit of overcoming the odds is precisely what we must employ now as we cast our ballots in the Spring Election. We can create a statewide touchdown by having a huge voter turnout that the whole nation will notice!

Given the crisis at hand, I frankly do not care which person or issue wins at the polls.  I sincerely want to see a huge turnout through absentee ballots that prove, to one and all, that when it comes to the core values in our state we all agree civic duty is very much alive!

And conquered the damn virus!

Wisconsin Voters Should Not Be Pawns To Elections Commission

The desire by conservatives to limit some citizen’s ability to cast a ballot in Wisconsin is very unsettling.  It is most appalling to watch play out.

I come to this issue the old-fashioned way, which I suspect in one way or another, is how most of my readers also approach this topic.  My earliest memories about elections are not for any particular candidate or party.  Instead, they are of Dad telling his family the importance of making sure we always went to the polls, along with the reason we have the right to select our leaders.  He always took voting as most important.  He was not a civics teacher but came home from World War II with the knowledge that our freedom came with responsibilities.  It is a lesson I carry very close to me.

This past week there was another judicial slap-down to efforts of undermining the registrations of thousands of voters the Elections Commission determined likely had moved and therefore do not remain valid.  That the Commission is playing partisan games with one of the foundations of our republic should make us all cringe, regardless of which party we call home.

No one needs to have more than a rudimentary appreciation of math to see what is happening.  Removing voters from the rolls could have a significant effect on upcoming elections since major Wisconsin contests are often decided by one or two percentage points.  Donald Trump, for example, won Wisconsin by only about 23,000 votes in 2016.  Governor Tony Evers eked out a victory in 2018.

But more to the point than math comes the fact that nothing nefarious has been happening in our elections.  There are no bands of people changing the outcomes due to voting more than once, or impersonating other voters, or living in one region and casting ballots elsewhere.  Data supports the credibility of our elections.  Every single election!

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is the driving force in the legal hunt for a way to remove names from the voting rolls.  The partisan organization has as its mission, in this case, something that is most sinister to the requirements of a well-functioning republic.  The only reason to see voting rolls purged and voters disenfranchised comes as a direct result of voting trends that do not favor the Republican Party.

Over and over we have seen efforts by Republicans to tinker with voting laws, or now with voting rolls.  There is never an intent to in some way improve voting procedures, but rather to undermine the other party at election time.  It troubles me greatly that limiting voter participation has become an accepted trait among conservatives.  All Americans should be most peeved at this practice.  I would like to think that some Republicans…somewhere… might understand the larger and nobler calling at making sure elections are open and accessible to all voters.  I wish they would stand up to their party.

Enshrining any form of voter suppression into law is not the way Wisconsin’s proud history should be written.  We have the means–through the courts–to roll back this tactic of partisanship that dangerously feeds on the very foundation of democratic ideals.  In so doing we can again prove our state can lead the nation.

Federal Judge Lets Air Out Of Puffed Up Republican Chests

That did not take very long.  Judge James Peterson of the Western District of Wisconsin ruled against the Republican legislature’s actions from late last year.

A federal judge struck down the highly controversial restrictions on early voting in Wisconsin, laws that were passed in one of the most twisted lame-duck sessions in memory.  It was only last month that citizens of this state were slack-jawed over the partisan hubris being exhibited by the Republican controlled legislature.  After losing all five statewide elected offices the GOP decided that it was better to toy with the voting franchise than run better candidates with ideas which reflected the needs of the voters.

In a flurry of legislative action, which mimicked cheetahs on the hunt, conservatives placed restrictions on early voting to only the two weeks before an election.  In recent years large cities like Madison and Milwaukee have used several weeks of voting to insure that citizens were able to use their most important right of citizenship.  Seemingly that was a bad use of democracy according to the majority party in the statehouse.

The judicial smack-down also involved an outrageous idea that would have required a 2-year expiration date on student IDs used for identification at the polls.  Also anchored with a cement block and tossed in the lake was a law that limits the use of receipts as valid voter identification for individuals who are involved in a sometimes lengthy process of getting a valid ID without a birth certificate.  Why make it as difficult as possible to cast a ballot?

For the record this blog has been adamant the voter ID law was the most ham-handed job Republicans undertook in the past eight years.  Data shows that nothing nefarious was happening at the polling places in Wisconsin.  NOTHING.  There were no streams of voters pretending to be someone else, or voting twice. There were no throngs of folks using fake aliases to cast a ballot, and there were no elections that had been decided by all the wild claims.  The only drama that takes place regarding elections are when Republicans breathlessly try to gin up their base with false-hoods about voter fraud. For the record it needs stating that there was not one Republican able to stand up in the legislature and produce any court cases, judge’s rulings, or names of those who cast fraudulent votes. If there was such rampant voting abuses why are they not able to produce any evidence?  

We know why.

What struck me in the legal ruling was the line which was not difficult for anyone to grasp.  Judge Peterson stated with firmness, “This is not a close question.”

It was not as if there were not citizens across the state, along with newspaper editors, and elected members of the Democratic Party who had plainly presented reasons as to why the GOP were way off track when they let their partisan zeal take away their rational thinking on this matter.  While Peterson’s ruling blocks the restrictions for now, we all are aware the case needs to proceed to an appellate court.  I welcome such an examination.

At the end of the judicial process I am confident that the ruling will be very clear.

The GOP will not be rewarded for using partisan politics in the fashion they did last December.  Elections matter and citizens should not be undermined in expressing their desire for which person serves in an elected office. 

Ranked-Choice Voting Needs To Explored

Ranked voting has received much attention this year–and for good reason.  While I have not yet attached my cart to this team of horses, I can say I am reading and learning more and more about it.  I am slowly warming to the idea.

Today the Boston Globe has a must read editorial for those who are pondering such a way to cast ballots.

One of the reasons to seriously consider it is due to the need of all candidates not to go nuclear on their opponents as that may backfire when voters make a second selection—and so on.  Ranked voting is one idea where civility might be enforced–to some degree–into the electoral process.  That would be a good thing.  Who knows, candidates might talk more about issues than throwing mud which might land right back on the one with the extended arm.  That latter sentiment is one I have long argued for on this blog.

Ranked-choice voting may sound complicated, but it’s really not. It’s basically an instant runoff in contests where no candidate has secured a majority of the vote. In ranked-choice elections, citizens don’t just vote for one candidate on Election Day. If they want, they can rank them all, in order of preference. If no candidate wins a majority, the hopeful who received the least first-choice votes is dropped, and those votes are redistributed to the next choice of his or her voters. That process continues until enough candidates have been eliminated, and enough votes reallocated, to deliver one candidate a majority.

Maine, a state where elections frequently feature one or more independent candidates, has had unfortunate experiences with plurality winners. Combative, divisive Paul LePage first won the governorship in a multi-candidate race with a slender plurality of 37.6 percent, giving him a victory he almost certainly wouldn’t have secured in a head-to-head contest. Because of a Maine constitutional issue, ranked-choice voting governs primaries, but doesn’t apply in general elections for governor or for legislative seats. It is used in all primaries, however, and in general elections for federal offices.

Conservatives will of course grouse because, in this instance, ranked-choice resulted in a loss for Poliquin, the last Republican House member in New England. But the Second District will end up with a member of Congress more in sync with its wants. And ranked-choice voting could just as easily work in the GOP’s favor in a contest where right-leaning independents split conservative votes that otherwise would have consolidated around the Republican nominee.

Holding Third-Party Voters In Wisconsin In 2016 Responsible For National Crisis

I am not–nor have I ever been–a supporter or fan of Senator Bernie Sanders.  While I liked the style and feel of one of his ads during the primary season his overall persona made me turn away.

First, I have a problem, generally speaking, with populists.  Second, though I was never a fan of math in my years of education, I still believe math matters.  The numbers have to add up.    Thirdly, though I am a liberal Democrat with strong ideals, I still know that to govern effectively one has to be pragmatic.   To win an election one has to be even more so.

That in a nutshell are my reasons for shunning Sanders.  Playing to national fears, failing to accurately compute budget proposals, and drifting off into a land of fantasy when it comes to political reality may allow for some to cozy up to the Vermonter, but all that makes me run in the exact opposite direction.

It is with that start I wish to say how simply delighted it was to read the column from Capital Times Editor Paul Fanlund.  I agree with every keystroke he made when crafting his column.

What I reject is the suggestion that this generational shift should also bring ever more extreme policy prescriptions in races throughout the nation.

In part, I think that tendency is fueled by an understandable and boundless revulsion at Trump and his enablers. But here is my question: Do you really think there are enough voters who favor truly far-left prescriptions to make up for the centrist voters likely to be turned off by these litmus tests for ideological purity?

Excuse me, but aren’t the folks who provided Hillary Clinton a popular vote majority in 2016 also “voters”?

There are tons of such people who would do just about anything to interrupt the nightmare of Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress, and fear that extreme far-left positions might play right into GOP hands.

But it’s the attacks on Clintonism from the left that have become especially old.

Yes, the Democratic Party needs new and more diverse leaders — most anyone devoted to progressive outcomes would stipulate to that.

But what gets tiresome is this narrative that candidates like Ocasio-Cortez somehow feel more aggrieved about Trump’s America than others who are apparently dismissed as namby-pamby pragmatists.

In fact, in today’s blood-sport politics, it may be those just a bit left of center who are the most unfairly criticized. They are caricatured by the right and then — and this still happens in 2018 — are attacked by what might be called the Bernie Sanders left.

The last time I looked, it was not the Hillary Clinton voter who helped create this American catastrophe. It was, to a large extent, the “never Hillary” crowd. People like actress Susan Sarandon, who claimed there was no difference between Clinton and Trump, or Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who drained critical votes from Clinton. And yet both still deny any responsibility.

And, oh, let’s remember those poor Bernie backers who, you know, just didn’t feel it in 2016, so they sat the election out — and gave us Trump.

Now, we’re told, they are the ones — not the rest of us — who claim to possess a unique passion and vision and that others should fall in line.

Let me add a bit more to the facts that we must never forget.

In Wisconsin we needed roughly 20,000 votes to carry it for Clinton. The numbers were roughly the same for Michigan and Pennsylvania.  Had those three states found their common sense the electoral college would have been 270 for Hillary Clinton. Not only must we vote—but we must always vote smart.

Consider that in Wisconsin the amount Clinton lost by was less than the 30,981 votes Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein garnered statewide to get 1.1 percent of the total.  Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson took 3.6 percent of the statewide total or 106,434 votes.   Trump will have his second Supreme Court pick next week, and with the age of the court likely a third pick, too.

We must be smarter with how we vote when given the chance.  And we must hold those accountable in 2016 who delivered such a disaster to the nation and world.  They can try to duck and weave and spin their yarns but they did this to our nation.  This is on them.

Brexit Remains A Hot Mess After Voters Made A Dreadful Decision

New polling in the Guardian today puts fresh pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to shift his own position further in the Remain direction. The survey by the People’s Vote campaign shows more than two-thirds of Labour voters want a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

The fact remains that too many Brits were not aware of what they were voting for when it came to leaving the EU.   There was plenty of information to be had to make an informed decision–but lazy voters did not gather the facts before heading to the polls.  (Now where else might that have occurred?)

The morning after the dreadful outcome was made known there was a surge of Google users in Britain searching to understand what Brexit meant.

The latest poll, by Opinium, finds a small overall majority of 53% in favor of a vote on the deal, with 31% opposed.

But among Labour voters the majority is much bigger, 69% to 18%, and among the so-called Corbynista generation of under-35s, 65% want a second vote to 22% opposed. The pattern is broadly similar in leave and remain voting areas across the UK.

Many contend that the Brexit deal described by the leave campaign at the time of the election is very different to the one they will get. They were told Brits could get all the economic benefits of the EU after they left, but that is patently not the case as new facts emerge every week.

But why in the world would the voters think that they should have all the benefits if they left the EU?  That makes no sense—and now we can go back to why it was important for the voters to be better informed when they made their choice.

But Trump Voters Still Belch Loudest–So They Have That Status Symbol

This is interesting.

Tonight James and I talked with a man on our front lawn for about 30 minutes.  He was walking by and just said hello.  He had worked in the biomedical field, but retired in his mid-40s as he now owns rental property (condos and such) bought in large part following the recession.  As we talked and the conversation moved to current events he mentioned that trying to understand ‘the plight’ of the white male in political terms made no sense whatsoever.

“I am a white male, 6 feet tall, and the world is mine”.

He was not being arrogant or elitist.  He made the same point I have posted often on this blog.  Be it right or wrong, white males still set the rules. Those white males who are angry voters because they can not lay stake to their claim in life can not blame anyone other than themselves.

Though they try to cast blame.   And that is why I find interesting this latest study aimed at trying to understand the 2016 election results for president.

I have been consistent about my desire to see life-time learning presented in campaigns and then funded by governments.  I know that concept will come as a shock for many people in red states who felt the last book they had to read was back in high school.  There is no way to hold back the future–nor should we try.   We need to find the new jobs of the future and work to move people in that direction.   But think what angry white voters did in 2016.  While China is investing in mega amounts of dollars for new energy technology Trump voters are wishing to dig with zeal for coal!   (And the rest of the nation should feel sorry for those voters?)

Some laugh at education and ‘elite’ schools while others around the globe embrace the power of learning.  Conservatives tell our nation on a continuous basis taxes are never to be increased, but we know the programming for education is not free.

And we wonder why some white male voters then are not able to make it in the modern world of technology and change!  If we had a better educated nation we would have fewer people with a fear about their status.    Because status and economics are linked.

A study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences questions that explanation (regarding economic anxiety for voting for Trump) , the latest to suggest that Trump voters weren’t driven by anger over the past, but rather fear of what may come. White, Christian and male voters, the study suggests, turned to Mr. Trump because they felt their status was at risk.

“It’s much more of a symbolic threat that people feel,’’ said Diana C. Mutz, the author of the study and a political science and communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where she directs the Institute for the Study of Citizens and Politics. “It’s not a threat to their own economic well-being; it’s a threat to their group’s dominance in our country over all.

Her survey also assessed “social dominance orientation,” a common psychological measure of a person’s belief in hierarchy as necessary and inherent to a society. People who exhibited a growing belief in such group dominance were also more likely to move toward Mr. Trump, Dr. Mutz found, reflecting their hope that the status quo be protected.

“It used to be a pretty good deal to be a white, Christian male in America, but things have changed and I think they do feel threatened,” Dr. Mutz said.

The other surveys supported the cultural anxiety explanation, too.

For example, Trump support was linked to a belief that high-status groups, such as whites, Christians or men, faced more discrimination than low-status groups, like minorities, Muslims or women, according to Dr. Mutz’s analysis of the University of Chicago study.

Those white males just might need to take up some self-improvement courses.

Federal Judge’s Ruling Smashes Back At Texas Voter ID Law

From Texas–but this will resonate around the nation.

Over and over on this blog I have hammered at the many reasons voter ID laws are not needed, and are discriminatory.   Therefore when I read a ruling that pounds on the same points as I have cared about means it is a good day for reasonableness.  A proud shout out to U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi!

A federal judge struck down Texas’ controversial voter identification law Wednesday, ruling that it illegally discriminated against Latinos and African Americans. The decision also raised the possibility that the federal government would start overseeing the state’s voting procedures.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi said the state’s attempts to require voters to present certain forms of identification at polling places — ostensibly to curtail voter fraud — were meant to discriminate against minorities and violated the Constitution and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The law, which laid out some of the most restrictive voting rules in the nation, was a revamped version of a 2011 measure that Ramos twice rejected for similar reasons.

The decision Wednesday was hailed by civil rights advocates, who had alleged that the rules were part a broad effort in Republican-controlled states to disenfranchise Latino and African American voters that tend to lean Democratic. Those voters are less likely to have the forms of identification that the law required.

“The judge’s opinion just goes to show that you can’t put a dress on a pig, take it to the ball, and claim that your date is Cinderella,” said Gary Bledsoe, the president of the Texas NAACP, which helped represent the plaintiffs.

Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which also joined the lawsuit, said Ramos’ “decision recognizes that a state cannot escape the consequences of its pernicious conduct without completely eliminating all vestiges of discrimination.”