Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The People Have Spoken: "We're Credulous, Gullible Nincompoops! Screw Us Some More, Please!"

Wisconsin's system of electing its Supreme Court justices to 10-year terms has toddled along for 155 years. We've had some brilliant justices, some nitwits, but by and large we've muddled through.

Last year, business lobbies pumped the better part of a million bucks into electing Annette Ziegler, who won handily despite some glaring conflicts of interests on the bench. For example, she illegally refused to supply information about one case until after the election, when it turned out -- whoopsie! -- that she had ruled on several cases involving a bank which has loaned her and her husband better than $3 mill, and for which her husband is a paid director. She said she used a "gut check" and found herself so free of any conflict, she didn't even bother to tell the defendants. Obviously it didn't matter, because the defendant's cases were so lame that she had to rule against them. Every time. Huh. (See here, here, and here.) It was a dirty campaign, but, quelle surprise, the side that bought the most TV ads won.

Last night we did it again, only better. With massive donations from groups like Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Michael Gableman ran ads displaying his African-American opponent's face alongside felons, accused him of setting a child rapist free (sort of forgetting to point out that the opponent was a public defender back then, and that the rapist actually wound up convicted), and generally behaving with the smirking, bigoted abandon that we've come to expect from the downtrodden underdog right.

Gableman won with 51% of the vote, defeating a sitting justice for the first time in decades.

The trouble with a democracy is that the people get exactly what they deserve, and we're going to be paying for these two for at least ten years to come.

But for the life of me I can't figure out why lower-class white America -- the vote here was pretty well split between the urban areas and the outback, who went en masse for the ninnyhammer -- continues to be so complicit in its own violation. The far right continues to tell these people that they're getting screwed, with increasing success, as farms fail and factories ship out to the Pacific Rim and retail is swallowed by Wal-Mart. But what boggles the mind is that they manage to sell the proposition that it's the left that's doing the screwing! Did I miss something, here? Who's gotten obscenely wealthy since the Reagan Revolution? Sure hasn't been rural America, or industrial workers, or small shopowners, or liberal professors, for that matter. But no, the far right is an endangered minority, and those tax-and-spend liberals are coming to ruin your prosperity! SCARY SCARY LIBERAL SCARY!

And they chortle all the way to the bank. My only consolation is that what goes around eventually does come around, and Americans will eventually toss them out on their butts. But they'll have done a helluva lot of damage by then, and have insulated themselves pretty well from the consequences. Listening to Obama, I can believe in a quiet revolution. Watching these yahoos get elected, I start to worry about the other kind.


Post a Comment

<< Home