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Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011

The Terrorists Within

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Ron Elving, the former Milwaukee Journal reporter who is now senior Washington editor for National Public Radio, says Wisconsin is where 2012 is happening right now.

That makes next week's recall elections of six Republican state senators the first vote to restore a positive future not only for Wisconsin, but also for the entire nation.

That point was brought home over the weekend as domestic terrorists in the U.S. House of Representatives threatened economic destruction of the United States unless they received trillions of dollars in budget cuts without raising taxes for millionaires and billionaires.

The threat by Republicans to force the United States into default, kill the fragile recovery and plunge America back into economic depression springs from exactly the same source as Republican Gov. Scott Walker's budget that ravages education, transportation and employment throughout Wisconsin. That was the election in 2010 of tea party extremists who literally do not care about government serving the people.

They are the modern-day equivalent of the Vietnam general who proclaimed he had to destroy a village in order to save it.

They have absolutely no qualms about destroying America in order to eviscerate government and prevent President Barack Obama from being re-elected.

Their long-term goal is to dismantle every government social program since President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, including Social Security, Medicare and their newest bugaboo of—oh, my god—affordable health care for everyone.

The Washington debate demonstrated graphically just how far the tea party was willing to go to try to destroy government by forcing the United States to default on its debts and triggering another collapse of the American economy.

The only reason that economic disaster didn't happen was that irresponsible right-wing extremists controlled only the House of Representatives. All that prevented the terrorists within from doing their worst was that Democrats still controlled the presidency and the Senate.

If the 2010 elections had done to the United States what it did to Wisconsin—put extreme right-wing Republicans in control of the executive branch and both houses of the legislative branch—there wouldn't even have been a debate.

The entire country would be experiencing the wholesale destruction of democratic institutions that is taking place in Wisconsin right now.

Imagine a country in which Congressman Paul Ryan's vicious plan to destroy Medicare and replace it with a voucher system forcing seniors to pay two-thirds of the cost of their own health care would pass overwhelmingly and be signed into law gleefully by a Republican president.

Tea party Republicans passed that plan in the House of Representatives to loud cheers from Wisconsin state Sen. Alberta Darling, one of the chief legislative architects of Walker's right-wing budget.

All that prevents the destruction of Medicare and Social Security proposed by Ryan are President Obama and Democratic senators who still believe government should provide economic protection for aging Americans.



Living the Nightmare

In Wisconsin, we don't have to imagine what it would be like living under a government in which right-wing Republicans hold unchecked power to destroy government to their hearts' content. We already are living in the worst-case scenario.

Taking advantage of an off-year election, tea party extremists revved up on racial hatred after Obama's election as president succeeded in pulling off a clean sweep in Wisconsin, electing not only Walker, but also a majority in both houses of the Legislature.

Under the radar, the extremists even bought themselves a majority of blatantly unethical Supreme Court justices who—unlike true conservatives—don't even require Walker and legislative Republicans to obey the law.

The result has been a radical right-wing revision of government almost overnight that Republicans didn't dare reveal to the voters before their election. Half a century of employment rights were repealed. Taxes were raised on the working poor and slashed for corporations and the rich.

When you hand out $2.3 billion in tax breaks to millionaires and corporations, the money has to come from somewhere. That's why Walker's budget guts funding of public education by $1.6 billion and cuts hundreds of millions more from local government, transportation and jobs.

The good news is that when political extremists seize power and start carrying out scorched-earth policies without the consent of the voters, democracy provides a remedy in recall elections.

And, make no mistake, repealing rights for working people, instituting massive layoffs of teachers and other job-killing moves, ravaging local governmental services, wrecking transportation and eliminating health care for the poor and disabled are not supported by the people of Wisconsin.

A recent University of Wisconsin poll showed 59% disapprove of Walker's performance as governor and 56% disapprove of Republicans controlling the Legislature.

Tuesday's recall elections to end Republican control of the state Senate are the first opportunity for decent Wisconsinites to stand up against the terror tactics of right-wing extremists in Madison and Washington.

The nation is watching.