The Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan have now proved themselves to be legislators who want to be and are trying to be…Fascists. What does that mean? Traditionally, Fascist theory is that one party gains control of all levels of government and then runs with total authority. Even in Communist Russia, tale Communist Party is theoretically now a Fascist power. Elections are controlled by one individual, the head of the political party that controls the government and the elections. There may be other candidates, but the government controls the voting process, the vote counting and the media that informs citizens about who is running, their policies, (what the government-run media says they are) and counting the votes.
This is what the Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan want. They have now both written legislation that will attempt to control processes by the incoming, freely elected Democratic administrations. Their arguments for wanting to control government after they have been voted out are laughable, stupid. The idea that they are “concerned” about what the incoming governments of those states will do? That is WHY we have ELECTIONS. To let the people decide. And the people of Wisconsin and Michigan have decided that they want a new administration to make decisions on government after January 1, 2019.
But this approach should be no surprise to anyone. And if we had truly objective media…one Left Wing commentator for every Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Michael Savage…as we used to before Ronald Reagan changed the rule on providing truth to citizens on public media…then there would be no wannabe Fascist parties in this country. But with the advent of hugely wealthy Right Wing backers in the late 1970s, and after the success of the propaganda campaign by Reagan that huge tax cuts for the rich are good for all Americans, hundreds of millions of dollars went into elections to make one political party all-powerful.
One way they did it was to begin gerrymandering political districts. This had been going on for a long time, but in 2010, with the advent of more sophisticated data processing techniques combined with advanced political demographic data, the Republicans spent $30 million to carve up the United States so that Democrats could not win majorities in many areas until at least 2020 or beyond. Here’s how the hugely wealthy Right Wing and the Republicans did it, and why you don’t know about it.
This should be no surprise to anyone. Here is the reason why. Even before Ronald Reagan and his associates at General Electric created the double-meaning in speaking to the public, he had double-crossed the working man. He said he supported unions and “American jobs” but then closed down the air traffic controllers’ union and sent a message to corporations that he was ready to help them stop unions. They did. They union bashing industry, by now a several-billion-dollar a year enterprise, sends its representatives into companies large and small, like Volkswagen in Tennessee, to insure that workers do not organize to bargain with owners collectively…even though, for example, Volkswagen, used to working with unions in Europe, said that they were fine with unionization. That was forty years ago and both unions and the average American wage has decreased (compared to inflation) and stayed low.
Behind everything, behind Governor Snyder in Michigan and Governor Walker in Wisconsin, two states that have gerrymandered districts in formerly very populist (responsive to the people) states into ones that follow the ALEC and State Policy Networks legislative agendas, are the Koch brothers and their now considerable group of Right Wing billionaires and secretive political Pacs that dictate policy to the Republican Party. They are at work all across the country, including particularly strong efforts in both Pennsylvania and North Carolina, but we will focus on this latest issue….gerrymandered state legislatures trying to control a newly elected state government.
In Wisconsin, the legislation passed in December of 2018 erodes the ability of the new Democratic governor to create rules that enact laws. It also prohibits Governor Evers from taking over a state job control agency until September 2019. It also mandates that early voting cannot take place more than two weeks before an election, even though a court ruled a similar provision unconstitutional. This isn’t projected legislation. The Republicans passed it and Governor Walker signed it.
It is an indication of how bad the gerrymandering has been in Wisconsin that, despite the fact that approximately 60% of Wisconsin voters surveyed express opinions on surveys that are considered “progressive” by poll takers, the Democratic, or progressive vote totals amounts to an average of only approximately 41%. And Republicans have a 19 to 14 majority in the state Senate and an overwhelming 63-36 advantage in the state Assembly. It is not just recently. In 2012, Democratic candidates for the state Assembly, we now know, received substantially more votes than Republicans, but won just 39 of 99 districts.If this seems almost undemocratic or illegal to you, you are right. A Federal court as well as Politifact and the Washington Post have called Wisconsin the number 1 or number 2 most gerrymandered state in the country.
And so, when people accuse Governor Walker of being a Fascist and a crooked politician or working for Right Wing Fascist-leaning billionaires, there is factual justification. His policy revives to the old Fascist trick of obstructing an opposing administration’s ability to run govenment and then blaming them for inactivity. This is not only the Fascist playbook, these were exactly the kinds of activities that the National Socialist Party of Germany used to create chaos and elect Adolph Hitler in the period 1930-1932.The old policy of redistricting so that Democratic votes fall into larger Republican districts. The policy of creating phony “voter fraud” issues and then forcing those without the ability to drive or afford transportation or without the good health or merely the opportunity to register to vote…often after they had lived and voted in the same districts for 40 years or more! This is the Fascist policy of preventing citizens from expressing their will through the vote in a free society.
It is done by the Republicans in Wisconsin with the backing of the very rich, the Koch Brothers, the Mercer family, the Adelsons, and the other super-rich, including local big business owners like the Menards. Their goals? Lower taxes, for one…which Walker promptly gave them. Then elimination of rules against polluting the water and air, which the now dominant Republican legislature promptly removed.
In 2011, soon after Scott Walker was elected Governor of Wisconsin, the state legislature re-drew the boundaries of state legislative districts for the state of Wisconsin. Walker was elected with huge funding from Right Wing organizations funded by many of the groups founded by the Koch brothers and their friends. Federal courts, after a lengthy battle, said that the districts are so gerrymandered as to be literally “unconstitutional.” And this is why Wisconsinites who go to the polls do not understand why their state is so “conservative.” The fact is that it is not. It has been taken over by a group of Right Wing politicians, who used huge amounts of money by corporations and certain extremely rich Fascist groups to buy television commercials to lie to the people and persuade jut enough of them–given the fact that many votes were suppressed through gerrymandering–to elect massive numbers of Republican (Fascist) politicians to state offices.
The fact is that Wisconsin has been under the control of the Koch brothers for almost a decade and the ultra-rich rather than the majority of the citizens of Wisconsin and the Republicans have now attempted to keep it that way. This is not the party of Robert LaFollette who fought for farmers against the devastating price controls of the railroads. This is Walker and his Republican disciples working for corporations against the people of Wisconsin while pretending to work for them.
Long term, Scott Walker’s programs were damaging to the middle class in Wisconsin. He cut education and at the same time cut taxes on large corporations and high-income individuals. His programs were not popular, but he controlled the legislature and the supreme court of Wisconsin. In 2010, using Koch brothers funds, Walker and the Republicans were able to gerrymander virtually the entire state of Wisconsin. In other words, heavy Democratic areas were all lumped into one district. Heavy Republican areas were spread across three districts, maybe four. This idea is that no matter how many Democrats come out to vote, they can never get a majority because they are always voting for a much smaller number of candidates and providing those few candidates a much larger majority. The state ends up with a much larger number of Republican legislators, each of whom had a small majority in his or her district. The Democratic votes all end up in very few districts with huge Democratic majorities. Walker and his Republicans want to continue to tear down the state, even after he leaves office, finally voted out, by voting in restrictions on the newly elected government.
Some people will say…this is not Fascism. This is, they will say, merely politics as usual. Well, they are wrong. Politics as usual is not shutting down government when you leave and a newly elected government comes in. Politics in the United States was never meant to work simply for the rich, or for the military, or for one religion or one theory of how everyone else should live their lives. Yes, there has always been gerrymandering. But, beginning in 2010, the difference became this: huge, powerful forces, a new class super-rich Fascist-oriented (that is totalitarian oriented) billionaires and giant U.S. based global corporations decided that they could spend upwards of $30 million in 2010 to rig future state elections and consequently many elections to the House of Representatives.
The result is that you can vote and vote and get out an enormous vote for your candidate. But when a district is gerrymandered, it is to isolate all the Democratic votes in one district. So while a Democratic candidate may win big, the Republican votes that should have been in his district, making it a closer race, have been spread across three districts. The result of the gerrymandering means that each of these Republican candidate will get a few more votes, enough to win a majority in that district. It also means that no matter how many more Democrats vote than Republicans, there is almost no way they can win a majority of seats.
In Michigan this year, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer was elected governor, Dana Nessel attorney general and Jocelyn Benson secretary of state. Now, Michigan Republicans want to allow the GOP-controlled legislature to put restrictions on their ability to carry out the will of the people. Republicans want to continue to interfere in legal battles that are normally the province of a state attorney general. They also want to remove campaign finance oversight, and therefore any reform, from the secretary of state’s office. In other words, the Michigan Republican party wants to continue to run Michigan for corporations and against the will of the people.
Michigan has long been “owned” by the Neo-Fascists behind the Republican Party of Michigan. Men like the heir to the Whirlpool fortune, House of Representatives member, Fred Upton, and others like Governor Rick Snyder, himself a multi-millionaire venture capitalist, have done their best to turn the state into an oligarchy if not an outright totalitarian Neo-Fascist state. One of Snyder’s first moves was to force through legislation that gave him the right to displace any elected local community official. Two of the results are notable.
He replaced the city manager of Benton Harbor with one of his own choosing. Then on behalf of the multi-millionaire House member from Benton Harbor, Fred Upton and a group of his friends, he had his city manager simply take park land on Lake Michigan from Benton Harbor and give it to a group of golf course and luxury condominium developers.
Later, he replaced the city manager of Flint, Michigan with his own man. That man diverted the city water supply to the contaminated source that later poisoned Flint citizens. Flint is a desperately poor community already and a largely minority community.They are s…having to buy bottled water for cooking, drinking and some personal hygiene uses. This was without question one of the most scandalous, and virtually criminal, acts of any state governor in our country’s history.
Snyder was literally responsible for the poisoning of the Flint, Michigan water supply. The citizens of Flint, poor, largely African-American, were forced to use bottled water, which for a long time, they were made to purchase themselves to use for drinking and cooking. This went on from early 2014 until April of 2019, about four years of living with bottled water as your only source of drinking water. This is how Fascism works. If you are not part of the Fascist group…the rich, the powerful or the Republicans, the government feels no obligation even to keep you alive. Only the ACLU and the National Resources Defense Counsel lawsuits forced Fascist Snyder to act on behalf of the citizens of Michigan.
From the standpoint of a continuing Democracy, believe it or not, these two actions were not his worst. In 2011, he presided over the redistricting, and gerrymandering of Republican state legislative districts. In June 2011, a shadow group made up of a number of law firms and other organization, backed by the governor and the head of the Chamber of Commerce, redesigned the state political districts, spending $1.1 million to gerrymander the entire state of Michigan. This means that these districts cannot be changed again until 2020. So, no matter how the almost equally divided, Democratic-Republican state votes, the state legislature will almost inevitably be Republican until 2021. This is not Democracy. This is Fascism.
How to End Gerrymandering
If you live in an area that is predominantly Republican, you are probably going to have a Republican state representative and be represented by a Republican in the federal House of Representatives. But that does not mean you should change a fairly distributed district into one where your favorite will be elected because it is statistically impossible for him or her to lose. In 2020, we need to take back our state governments. We need predominantly Democratic state governments. We need to then do two things. First, we need to eliminate all state lobbying organizations..no funding, no organizations, no more than one person for any group and no money to be allowed to be given to any state legislator for any reason. That includes both corporations and unions…and any advocacy groups. /
Second, we need to find an absolutely perfect system of designating geographic electoral units with as much impartiality as is possible. If districts can be gerrymandered, then clearly they can be un-gerrymandered in the same way, by impartial groups made up of honest citizens. This can be done.
Democracy is at stake. Not just the moronic Trump electorate, that gaggle of gun-nuts, or the white supremacists, or fanatic fundamentalists, or hard-core greedy multi-millionaire and billionaire-supported, semi-criminal Tea Party and regular Republicans, who like Snyder and Walker sacrifice the citizens who were propagandized into voting for them.
But it is not just the Trump zombie voters or the Tea Party voters, that is the haters and the ones who get employment from people like the Koch brothers, including hundreds and hundreds of legislators. The real problem is the hugely wealthy Right Wing, a small group of concentrated power.
They are funded by oil money, by stock market winnings (not earnings) by profits from corporations that off shore the manufacture of products that just as easily could be made here, but garner enormously greater profits (with now almost no taxes.) The major stockholders, the owners, of those corporations spend their excess dollars to gerrymander states, as they did in 2010 across the country, when Karl Rove says they spent $30 million to gerrymander state legislatures nationwide.
They spend their money in secret Pacs, now allowed by the Conservative Supreme Court’s Citizens’ United decision. And because of Reagan’s removal of the Fairness Doctrine, people like Sean Hannity (who finally came right out for Trump and campaigned with him…so much for his objectivity…apparently he was no longer afraid of being called “liar” once he stood next to liar Trump) can tell any lie about any candidate and commercials that lie and insult and denigrate any candidate can run with impunity.
The solution, for the next several elections, is to vote out the oligarchs before we become another Russia…or let’s be honest…before we become any closer to Russia than we have already become. Vote yourself. Get others to vote. Register people to vote. March. Carry signs. Demonstrate. And for the next two campaign years, the next two national elections at least…vote Democratic. It is the only solution for now. Throw out every Republican, no matter how good he or she seems. It is the only solution to the Fascism that they have supported for the last 8 years at least.