I guess it is a mark of the Republican triumph in Wisconsin politics that the right wing is now turning its sights on its own.
U.S. congressman Tom Petri won't run for re-election. State Sen. Mike Ellis won't run for re-election. State Sen. Dale Schultz won't run for re-election.
There are a fair number of Democrats calling it quits, too. The difference is the Republicans made their announcements after being targeted by their fellow Republicans.
My real problem is what happened to Ellis. He was the victim of a sting operation in a Madison bar. Project Veritas, a sleazy operation best known for the way its founder, James O'Keefe, brought down a voter registration organization by using hidden video cameras and then selectively editing the tape. Project Veritas took a camera into the Inn on the Park and recorded Ellis bragging about setting up an illegal campaign committee.
As far as I know, Ellis never did set up such a committee. And I spent a good amount of my working life sitting at an Inn on the Park bar. One hears lots of things at the Inn on the Park that never turn out to be true.
The thing is, why would a national right-wing organization set its sights on a fairly insignificant Wisconsin state senator?
What the hell is going on in this state?
It was bad enough when the Republicans won total control of state government and then used that power to systematically destroy public employee unions, undermine public schools and erode the voting rights of people who most often vote, Democrats.
And it was bad enough that the right-wing element of that party then proceeded to knee cap "moderate" Republicans.
But Ellis? In what alternate reality would anyone ever call Ellis a moderate?
To be sure, Ellis has raised questions about the efficacy of replacing Wisconsin's public schools with vouchers and he hasn't been a big fan of taking away people's ability to vote. I guess when you've been re-elected as often as he has, you think voters might have some ability to make good choices.
His problem isn't that he is a moderate. His problem is that he refuses to be coerced into lockstep with the billionaire worshipers of what used to be his party.
Here's the real problem: a democracy operates best when people with different ideas wheel and deal and get things done that benefit their constituencies. To do that, you have to be able to have a couple of drinks after work without having someone training a hidden camera on you.
What's going to happen eventually is that the people now running Wisconsin will be exposed for the incompetent frauds that they are, and we will throw them out of office and bring Democrats back in.
My fear is that, when we do, there will be no competent Republicans left in office to temper the Democrats' own whackadoodles.
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