My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Get out and vote today, but then we need to start thinking about November. Here you go:
With the spate of bipartisan legislation making it to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk at the sunset of this legislative session, one might have been lulled into thinking that Wisconsin’s Democrats had finally moderated and moved toward the center of the ideological spectrum. As if to disabuse the electorate of any such notion, some Assembly Democrats have introduced a sweeping amendment to the Wisconsin state constitution that reads like a Madison socialist manifesto.
The amendment does not stand any chance of actually passing. In order to amend the Wisconsin Constitution, both houses in two successive legislatures must pass the same amendment and then it must pass a statewide vote. It is very difficult to amend the state constitution, but it is particularly hard for the minority party in the legislature to do it. But that isn’t the point of what the Democrats are doing.
Released at the end of the legislative session on the eve of an election season where Democrats are hoping to ride a blue wave to electoral majorities, the amendment is meant to lay down an ideological marker of where the Democrats would like to take Wisconsin if the voters are foolish enough to hand them power.
The lengthy amendment contains 18 provisions that address everything from abortion to voting rights. Let us look at a few of the more wacky ideas that Democrats would like to foist on the state:
■ Democrats would attempt to undermine the Second Amendment by allowing local ordinances to supersede federal and state law when it comes to how citizens own, use and carry firearms.
■ Democrats would strike the word “resident” from the definition of an eligible voter and only require a person to live in a ward for 10 days before being permitted to vote. This would open the door to allow Democrats to flood key districts with temporary voters in order to win elections.
■ Democrats would allow felons who are on probation or parole to vote.
■ Democrats would reinstate the notoriously corrupt Government Accountability Board that was complicit in persecuting conservative people and groups. Not only that, but they would give the GAB even more power by putting it in control of drawing district lines. The GAB was so successful in helping Democrats before it was disbanded that they assume that it will tilt legislative maps in their favor too.
■ Democrats would prohibit religious schools from receiving public funds. This would effectively kill school choice in Wisconsin since the majority of choice schools are highly-successful Catholic, Lutheran and other religious school systems.
■ Democrats would turn back the clock in favor of unions by declaring a right to collective bargaining. This would negate Act 10, right to work legislation and reinstate the expensive prevailing wage laws.
■ Democrats would enable the DNR to be an independent leftist attack dog by insulating it from the voters. They would do this by putting the superintendent of public instruction — historically a Democratic stronghold — representation in the DNR and by allowing a Natural Resources Board to choose the DNR secretary. Democrats believe in insulating their favorite government institutions from electoral scrutiny.
■ Democrats would also have the superintendent of public instruction set the budget for public school funding. It is difficult to even understand how this would work since the Legislature holds the power of the purse, but Wisconsin’s Democrats are unbothered by such things.
The proposals go on, but the message is clear: Democrats really do think that Wisconsin would be better off if it adopted San Francisco’s values. They really would mount a full scale assault on our civil rights if they manage to regain control of the government again.
This constitutional amendment is not going to pass, but it is a clear statement of the kind of Wisconsin that Wisconsin’s Democrats would create if given the chance. Many of these ideas do not need a constitutional amendment in order to become reality. Most of them could be done with simple changes in the law. If Wisconsinites are enjoying record employment, a booming economy, budget surpluses, tax cuts and the expansion of civil rights, they are going to have to get to the polls in November and make their voices heard.