Wineke: What Good is Power if Power Does No Good?

Syndication: Journal Sentinel
Michael Gableman, formerly a justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, speaks at a rally Nov. 7, 2020, for President Donald Trump at American Serb Hall on West Oklahoma Avenue in Milwaukee.

Now Michael Gableman, the former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Assembly Republicans hired to probe the 2020 election, is threatening to put the mayors of Madison and Green Bay in jail.

That leads me to an initial question: How did this dolt ever get elected to the Supreme Court?

Also, a second question: What convinced Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to select him for his current job?

The issue seems to be that Gableman thinks the mayors have an obligation to meet with him privately to defend elections in their cities. Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway says she will meet and testify in public and asked the city’s attorneys to negotiate with Gableman. The Green Bay mayor’s office says Gableman’s legal filing isn’t legal and wasn’t filed in the correct court.

My guess is that most mayors are correct because in the months since Vos hired Gableman, the guy seems ignorant of the laws he claims apply, which again makes one wonder how he ever got to the state’s highest court.

I am also reasonably sure that by now, Vos regrets ever getting involved in this mess.

There isn’t any serious question about how Wisconsin handles its elections. There has never been any serious question. No one has come up with a smidgen of evidence for any fraud. The election was carried out in the middle of a pandemic. It found that Joe Biden received more votes than did Donald Trump. It also showed that Republicans – like Vos – maintained control of the Legislature.

After Trump and his cult demanded Vos be decapitated for not rigging the presidential poll in the former president’s favor, the Assembly speaker appointed Gableman to head a probe.

Gableman, in return, has done nothing but embarrass the state. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much what he did when he sat on the Supreme Court, too.

I think the real problem, however, goes beyond Gableman. It goes to the question of the purpose of power.

Vos is arguably the most powerful politician in Wisconsin. After the Republicans draw up new voting districts and give Republicans the ability to override a gubernatorial veto – which the court has also authorized – he will be the most powerful politician in the state.

But he owes his power to the Trump cult, not to the voters. Hence, Gableman.

Democrats are not perfect. But, if you ask a Democratic politician what he or she plans to do with power, you will get an answer. That candidate will promise to use power to help people in specific ways, to give tax credits to working families that can’t afford child care, for example.

Former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson had all sorts of policy decisions that I, personally, didn’t like. But, if you asked Tommy to explain a position, he could tell you specifically why he felt that policy would help people.

His successors seem to relish power for power’s sake and their goal is to use that power to keep it. So far, they’ve used their power to disable the state’s ability to fight Covid infections and to hire Gableman to sow distrust of elections and threaten elected officials with jail if they won’t bow before him.

It’s just getting too damn embarrassing.