Wisconsin’s Banana Republicans

The populations of the original banana republics of Latin America broke down into two distinct groups: the owners of the fruit plantations and other American corporate outposts availing themselves of what for all practical purposes were a colonialist’s monopoly of indigenous resources, and then the vast majority of the country’s populace that provided the cheap labor, with negligible rights, power, influence or property of note. The new radical breed of Republican, typified by Scotty Walker and his white shoe crusade for the restoration of the oligarchy movement in the state of Wisconsin is the model for the Republican vision of the future from state to state it now seems clear.

Step one was a shift of resources from unionized workers to corporations, with tax legislation that had the subtlety of a straw boater in a Wisconsin snowstorm. Step two, now underway, is the disenfranchisement of swaths of the state’s voters, conveniently the segments unlikely to rubber stamp the corporate hegemony and wealth disparity Republicans envision cementing  into Wisconsin law.

Never likely to face the accusation of being geniuses, Walker and his fellow Chiquita water carriers pulled out the same old Republican pretext for voter disenfranchisement: the ghostly specter of voter fraud, much conjured by the Republican Party though never actually witnessed in material form. The actual record throughout the United States, not to mention the matter of common sense make evident beyond a doubt that voter fraud is nothing more than a red state herring, but it’s the best (and I use that word with reservation) excuse Republicans ever come up with when trying to make it as difficult as possible for, put up as many obstacles as possible to voting by voters likely not to vote Republican. Hackneyed as the scheme is from state to state, give Republicans credit for understanding that without such measures they can’t win. So less participation, less democracy, more selective voting is the ploy they choose.

As Republicans seek to nudge us further back to the glory days of literacy tests and poll taxes it’s worth remembering that conservatives loved those factory towns of the old south: mill owners lorded it over hardscrabble employees, free from federal government and union interference, able to treat their vulnerable workers any way they damn pleased. And of course the first whines out of owners’ mouths, when for instance, the feds began requiring factory owners to provide decent sanitary conditions or a marginally safe work environment were the now patented plaints that the big, bad federal government was strangling their precious freedoms, denying them their liberty to treat workers anyway they wished. They relished that imbalance of power. They needed that imbalance of power. Insecure people do. And it’s the sort of imbalance Scott Walker and his ultra-right Republican ilk seek to restore in the great state of Wisconsin.

Of course, the modus operandi for passage of the bill through the Wisconsin senate was wham, bang, thank you jackbooted Republican majority. It was rushed through, quite obviously as preliminary inoculation against the coming recall votes, Republicans clearly terrified of the threat of comeuppance for their last several months of rashness and radicalism, imposed against the will of Wisconsin voters.

Limiting debate is a conspicuously crude admission of fear of the consequences of open debate. It’s always obvious when a deed is as rushed as this one was, that those doing the rushing are hoping to pull a fast one. The only reason to limit debate is if you’re afraid to have it, or too embarrassed. Clearly these Republicans would have been shamed had they been forced to debate this measure in the open sunlight for any length of time. Whatever hubris Wisconsin Republicans currently may be in the grip of, this effort of disenfranchisement is sure to have the opposite effect of the one intended, enflaming those it intends to disenfranchise, and bringing them to the polls in greater numbers.

The thing about pulling fast ones is that once done, they can just as quickly be undone.

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