Email date: 11/8/12
In this update:
1. Post-election blues . . . and reds
2. Anti-Citizens United votes win in Eau Claire and across the country
3. Redistricting yields GOP consolation prizes
Post-election blues . . . and reds
After a superstorm of destructive advertising swept across the land, millions were left without power after the Nov. 6 election, according to “America’s finest news source.” As for Wisconsin, our state always has been politically schizophrenic, but our split personality never has been more prominently displayed than it is now. Just months after voting to keep Scott Walker as governor, Wisconsin helped keep Barack Obama in the White House and became the first state to elect an openly gay U.S. senator. Wisconsin is now represented in the Senate by one of the most liberal members of Congress and one of the most conservative – and “dumbed-down” – members.
Ever notice that the bigger and more important the problem, the less attention it gets in political debates? The political class has somehow managed to make the size of problems inversely proportional to the amount of time spent discussing and solving those problems. And the nation’s media have largely acquiesced. Two cases in point are climate change and the corrupt political money game. This has got to change. Starting now.
“We gotta turn these auctions back into elections.” That’s what the Democracy Campaign’s director said in a radio interview airing this week on stations throughout the state. In an election-day editorial, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said: “The campaigns are awash in cash, most of it spent on negative advertising. There are ways to check this.” Indeed there are.
One way is to send a loud and clear message to those elected Tuesday, starting right at the top, that it’s time to get money out and people in. For starters, you can sign unPAC.org’s open letter to the president.
At the same time, we need Wisconsin lawmakers to come to terms with the fact that our state got a C- on its corruption risk report card, with a D+ or worse grade in five categories. Wisconsin owes its citizens more transparent and accountable government. Take action and send state officials a link to the corruption risk report card and demand that they tell you how they plan to address these issues.
Anti-Citizens United votes win in Eau Claire and across the country
Many issues divide Americans. But one thing that unites us is a shared understanding that there is way too much money in politics and that the unlimited election spending unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case is poisonous to democracy and a disaster for America. Voters hammered home that message on Tuesday. In Eau Claire County, voters were asked this question: Should the United States Constitution be amended to establish that regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting freedom of speech, by stating that only human beings, not corporations, unions or PACs, are entitled to constitutional rights? In this local referendum, 71% of voters answered “yes.”
Similar votes were taken all over the nation on Tuesday, and citizens in communities from one coast to the other agreed with the people of Eau Claire.
Redistricting yields GOP consolation prizes
In some ways the political map hasn’t changed very much at all. In many other respects, the American electorate is changing quite dramatically. One sign of change: George W. Bush won the presidency by capturing just over three-fifths of the nation’s white vote. Mitt Romney matched Bush’s percentage of white support and lost. But it was a different set of maps that loomed large in elections for the lower house of Congress and Wisconsin’s state legislature. While Democrats were winning the White House and holding on to control of the U.S. Senate, they managed few gains in House races and the Republicans maintained their majority. Why? In a word, redistricting. New gerrymandered district maps drawn by Republicans in states throughout the country gave GOP candidates a decisive edge in Tuesday’s elections.
The same was true in state legislative contests in Wisconsin. While state voters were electing Obama and Baldwin at the top of the ticket, new legislative districts produced few competitive elections and gave the Republicans big advantages in the few contested races. Even in a strong Democratic year, the end result was a GOP takeover of the state senate and maintenance of a large Republican majority in the assembly.