How Wisconsin Stopped Being Wisconsin
If your state rep is down there taking a check from the mining company, and then he goes dancing down the aisle waving the check over his head and screaming like a chicken, you can’t film him and show it at your next community action meeting.Sit down. Shut up. Don’t move.
This is not the way Wisconsin politics is supposed to work. Wisconsin is where loud, muscular progressive politics was born. Robert LaFollette was not civil, in the way that word is bandied about today. He had no “other hands,” and he crusaded for measures that struck power from the oligarchy and made the system more responsive to the people who allegedly were in charge of it. To see this happen in Wisconsin, especially while they’re debating this godawful giveaway to the extraction industries, is to see something precious dammed up at its source.
Much of the attention paid to the ongoing war on democracy taking place in the states has to do with the consequences of rigged redistricting, the finagling with the electoral college, and the fragging of organized labor. All of those are important and worthy of notice. But it is in these little things where the real damage is done. The goal is to remove ordinary citizens from the exercise of their government as far as possible, either rhetorically or, in this case, literally. It is in these little things in which citizens are made ignorant of the simple habits of self-government, of the basic autonomic instincts of democracy. Once you deaden those reflexes, the big stuff is a lot easier.
- Charles Pierce, breaking my heart as writes about Wisconsin.