Home / News / Taking Liberties / The Honest and the Dishonest
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Honest and the Dishonest

Google+ Pinterest Print
We’ve all learned a lot about the integrity of elections in Wisconsin in recent weeks. The most important thing we’ve learned is who has integrity and who doesn’t, who really cares about honesty and who doesn’t.

A lot of people seem to think the biggest division in politics today is between the left and the right. I don’t. I believe it is between the honest and the dishonest.

When the initial results showed Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg about 200 votes ahead of incumbent Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, there was no question on either side there would be a recount.

Two days later, when the Republican Waukesha County clerk came up with 14,000 additional votes in the race, putting Prosser about 7,000 votes ahead, Republicans suddenly saw no reason at all for a recount.

Never mind that out of 1.5 million votes cast statewide in the Supreme Court race, the new, improved winning margin for Prosser was less than 0.5% of all votes, qualifying for a recount at state expense under the law.

To those who supported Prosser, all that mattered was that their candidate was declared the winner of the race. They couldn’t care less how tortured or questionable the process was that produced the result.

Prosser’s supporters began publicly attacking Kloppenburg for requesting the recount to which she and her voters were entitled by law.

But if Prosser’s Republican supporters in Waukesha County were honest or cared about the integrity of elections, they should be among the first calling for a carefully monitored recount of the Supreme Court vote.

After all, Waukesha County was where the votes of more than 14,000 citizens on both sides of the Supreme Court race were missing for two days.

The Government Accountability Board said after reviewing Waukesha County’s final canvass that there were still “a few anomalies” that could not be explained by the documentation submitted by Republican County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus.

Every voter in Waukesha County has a right to wonder whether the vote he or she cast actually got counted or whether it was reduced to an anomaly, whatever that means.

Voters there and elsewhere have a right to be concerned since enough other problems have been raised in previous elections regarding Nickolaus keeping the county’s vote totals on her personal computer, to which no one else has access.

In 2006, Nickolaus reported 156,804 total votes cast in Waukesha County, but somehow came up with an additional 17,243 votes in the close race for state attorney general in which Republican J.B. Van Hollen beat Democrat Kathleen Falk by only 8,859 votes.

Maybe if you are a Republican in Waukesha County, you don’t care whether your votes are counted honestly as long as Republicans win elections by any means necessary.

Dishonesty of Voter ID Bill

But it would be just as wrong to suggest that Republicans are inherently dishonest as it would be for Republicans to claim the same thing about Democrats. Which, of course, Republicans do all the time.

In fact, the nationwide campaign by the Republican Party to create the totally false impression that widespread Democratic vote fraud exists in this country is, itself, rooted in dishonesty.

Republicans know exactly who will be turned away from voting when Gov. Scott Walker and legislative Republicans pass a law in Wisconsin requiring voters to show driver’s licenses or strictly limited picture IDs in order to vote.

They will be people of color—only about half of African Americans statewide have driver’s licenses—the elderly and students. The proposed law intentionally omits university photo IDs as an accepted form of identification.

It is fundamentally dishonest to pass laws to prevent Americans from exercising their constitutionally protected right to vote just because you think those citizens might vote for the other party.

Despite all the terrible things Republicans say about unscrupulous Democrats trying to steal elections, Democrats have never once tried to pass a law to deny the right to vote to people who drive a Mercedes.

Remember when Republicans were patriotic Americans who believed in the Constitution? Remember when Republicans were the party of law and order?

Today, Republicans are the ones who brazenly break state open meetings laws and threaten to ignore court orders so they can take rights away from their political opponents.

Dishonesty appears to be a growing political tactic within the Republican Party. During the health care debate, Republicans were delighted to find they could turn large numbers of Americans against reducing their own health care costs by telling outrageous lies about death panels.

Now Republicans believe they can destroy successful Democratic programs such as Medicare and Social Security if Congressman Paul Ryan can tell big enough whoppers about an imaginary looming economic apocalypse.

But adopting dishonesty as a coldblooded political tactic risks alienating longtime Republican supporters who are honest, perhaps even in Waukesha County.