Friday, May 20, 2011

Wisconsin's Extremist Republican Party: In Extremis

Yes, in extremis -"in the farthest reaches."

Look at the 180-degree turn by State Senator Alberta Darling, (R-River Hills) - - from former Planned Parenthood board member to current co-chair of the Joint Committee on Finance that stripped away PP's entire state grant.

Her flip speaks volumes about the decline of the Wisconsin Republican Party into extremism, and its more relatively-moderate members into panic.

The far-right wanted the grant eliminated to punish the organization for providing abortion services, but all the grant was to be used for the 97% of Planned Parenthood's non-abortion-related services, and none of the state grant would be used for abortion services.

But to be a Republican in the state party leadership these days - - and one facing a recall election, too - - means being and behaving as an ideologue, with no room for the shades of grey that make up the real world.

So to stay alive in her party, Darling will follow and lead the party to the Right.

Also take the party's shamefully spun and passed Voter ID bill - - (Republicans' real #1 state priority, with job creation being no higher than #3, behind Walker's union-busting "bomb.") - - a solution, like the swine flu fiasco vaccine of a few decades ago, in search of a problem.

There have been a handful of phony ballots cast statewide, but nothing on any scale to objectively justify our purportedly-broke State of Wisconsin getting ready to spend millions on a new, ID-based election system - - and then another huge sum defending in court a blatantly unconstitutional and grievously-immoral scheme to use state power to prevent eligible citizens from voting.

In this case, the GOP is choosing wasteful spending over law and facts while pretending there is no partisan advantage in tamping down turnout in lower-income cities and on college campuses.

The obfuscating even comes from sometime moderates like State Sen. Neal Kedzie, (R-Elkhorn), who have no intention of standing in the way of the state GOP's full-blown partisan and political push rightward.

Says Kedzie:

As members of the electorate, we are afforded the opportunity to actively participate in representative democracy in this state and nation, which should neither be taken lightly nor for granted. When that opportunity is compromised by incidents of voter fraud, it is both necessary and appropriate for election reform measures such as this to be implemented and administered to its fullest extent. The photo ID bill is a reasonable requirement which will maintain the integrity of our elections and uphold an established standard of 'one person - one vote'. 
Finally, you can't escape the message sent all week by conservatives who are bashing fellow Republican Tommy Thompson - - a moderate - - with harsh words and even an attack ad for merely thinking about running for the US Senate seat opening next year.

The message is that the Wisconsin GOP - - and as Cynthia Tucker notes in a broader, national essay - - is only open to far-right order-followers.

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