State Senate Democrats used a procedural maneuver earlier this week to block the final roll call on the voter ID bill that Gov. Scott Walker and his allies have advanced in order to game the political process to favor their chosen candidates. The Democratic moves delayed the Senate vote until today, when it is likely that the Republican-controlled Senate will approve what can only be described as an assault on Wisconsin tradition of encouraging high levels of voter participation.
The wrangling of the moment between Republicans and Democrats has made this seem like a partisan struggle. But it is not really that. The Wisconsin Republicans of not too many years ago would have joined Democrats in opposing this bill. That’s because Wisconsin has a history of bipartisan commitment to expanding the franchise, not narrowing it.
The voter ID bill is not a Wisconsin idea. It is an imported proposal, designed by national strategists on the right – and their corporate allies – as part of a broad strategy to undo the political progress of the past century.
That progress made real the promise of democracy in America. But it also made it harder for economic and political elites to control the electoral and governing processes of the republic.
So they began to spin fantasies about election fraud and political chicanery with an eye toward creating a constituency for denying democracy.
They’ve had some success, and the advancement of the voter ID bill – legislation that would not have had a chance of being passed in the Wisconsin even a few years ago – is evidence of that success.
Make no mistake: The voter ID bill erects roadblocks to voting.