Maybe we should think of ways to suppress the white Republican vote

I lived in Appleton, and then Neenah, for many years before I moved to Madison. While living in the Fox Valley, I often thought that we could use a nice vegetarian-friendly restaurant, or better bike paths, or a cardiac rehabilitation clinic that didn’t also sell cheese curds.

What I never thought was, “Gee, I wish it were as easy to vote here as it is in the big cities.”

Know why I never thought that? It’s ridiculous, that’s why.

When I lived in Neenah, a small, conservative city that also happens to be — you’ll be shocked by this — predominantly white, it was particularly easy to vote. I don’t recall ever spending more than a few minutes at a polling place. I could breeze in, breeze out, and drive to the Outagamie County Courthouse in time to do 108 full prostrations before the incandescent bust of Joe McCarthy while many inner city folks were still waiting.

And I certainly never saw anything like this (note the color of the vast majority of the voters in this video):

In fact, all across the nation, it’s easier to cast a vote if you live in a predominantly white area than if you live in an area where most of the residents are black or Hispanic. A 2013 report by MIT political science professor Charles Stewart III noted that in the November 2012 election, African-American voters waited an average of 23 minutes to vote, as opposed to 19 minutes for Hispanics and 12 minutes for whites.

So what to do when blacks spend almost twice as long waiting to vote as whites? Why, you rush through legislation to make it even harder for blacks. Why settle for a 2-to-1 disparity? Why not make it 3-to-1? Hey, maybe we can fix it so blacks don’t vote at all! Wouldn’t that be something?

So, obviously, the notion that overgenerous access to polling places in our densest population centers is a problem requiring the urgent attention of our state Legislature ranks up there in the pantheon of stupid ideas with New Coke and males wearing Speedos past the age of 45.

Nevertheless, our Legislature has urgently attended to this “problem.” Late last week, the Assembly passed a bill ending weekend voting and limiting in-person absentee voting in the two weeks before statewide elections. If the bill becomes law, voting would have to take place between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays and would be limited to 45 hours per week.

As the Journal Sentinel reported, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) claimed the legislation would level the playing field between urban and rural areas. “It’s difficult for people to turn on Channel 6 in Milwaukee … and there’s a shot of someone voting during a time when it’s not available to people in rural areas,” said Fitzgerald.

Yes, by all means, let’s make it easier for people who are forced to wait in those long lines in Rhinelander and Kiel. When I travel up north, all I hear about is voter disenfranchisement. That, and how the bluegills are biting. But mostly voter disenfranchisement.

So this is Republicans’ idea of fairness. Remember that the next time they propose a flat tax scheme or “death tax” repeal that “evens the playing field” for billionaires and the working class.



Say, maybe Democrats in the Legislature just need to be more imaginative. Here are a few ways they could act to reliably suppress the Republican vote the next time they’re in the majority:

  1. Pass a revised voter ID law. Acceptable forms of ID will include ACLU membership cards, Whole Foods frequent shopper cards, or hand stamps from Screamin’ Queens Karaoke Night at Plan B. You can also apply for a special photo ID card, which will be available from 2-4 p.m. each Tuesday at the Willy Street Co-op.
  2. Restrict polling hours to times when Duck Dynasty, 18 Kids and Counting, or Touched by an Angel are airing.
  3. Require voter registration. After listing your marital status, you have to also write down which actor or actress of the same sex you think is hottest.
  4. Pass a law revoking the voting rights of anyone who says “Git ’er done” within 60 days of an election.

‘Scott Walker is an empty suit’ watch

The latest Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages is out, and Wisconsin now ranks a dismal 35th in private-sector job creation (for the September 2012-September 2013 period), up from an even more dismal 37th. Remember, this is the most accurate measure of job growth. (It’s also Scott Walker’s preferred data source.)

Once again, we’re lagging behind most of our Midwest neighbors. For those keeping score, private-sector growth was just 1.2% in Wisconsin, while progressive Minnesota clocked in at 1.9%. The national rate was 2.1%

The redoubtable “Jake formerly of the LP” has more details.

I never said it was perfect

I sometimes feel like I should preface every defense of Obamacare with, “I would prefer a single-payer system, but …”.

A reader responding to my last blog post took me to task for defending Obamacare and predicting that it would ultimately prove its detractors wrong. “Obamacare will end up being (one more) enormous gift to the elite,” the reader wrote.

I have to agree that Obamacare is far from perfect, but it’s much better than the expensive, cruel, and capricious health care system we had pre-reform.

That said, I’d much prefer something like Canada’s health care system. So would the overwhelming majority of Canadians, who are well familiar with single-payer.

If you want to hear a cogent defense of Canada’s single-payer system, take a look at this video, featuring Dr. Danielle Martin of Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. (The best part starts at 3:50.)

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