Hundreds of protesters brave cold to object to lame duck Republican legislation
Democrats rode an ambitious agenda to their clean sweep of Wisconsin’s state offices, but questions around their ability to execute now surface as it seems likely that the offices they inherit will be weaker than those they ran for.Image By: Michael Makowski
Hundreds of protesters lined the steps of the state Capitol building Monday night to oppose Republican legislation that would strip power from newly-elected Democrats and restrict early voting in future elections.
The legislation includes measures to take some authority away from incoming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and delegate it to the Republican state Legislature, effectively nullifying the governor’s impact on issues such as the economic controversies surrounding Foxconn and the state’s lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.
It also includes changes to Wisconsin voting processes, such as trimming the early voting period in the state to only two weeks beforehand, and changing the date of the 2020 state Supreme Court election so as to not coincide with the Democratic primary, increasing the chances for a Republican victory.
On Tuesday, legislators will vote on these proposals, but Monday night’s protest, in spite of bitter cold, indicated that many Wisconsin voters oppose these measures.
“I know it’s cold tonight. But it’s not as cold as some of those days back in 2011,” exclaimed John Nichols, a contributor to The Nation and The Capital Times, referring to the state budget protests of that year.
“Thomas Paine, the most righteous of the founders of the American experiment, said that the Sunshine Patriots and the Summer Soldiers would shrink in a difficult moment … but the Winter Soldiers, those who would stand strong through it all through tyranny, against injustice … brothers and sisters, you are the Winter Soldiers,” Nichols said.
Other speakers, including Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette, stressed the importance of protester turnout for the voting of the legislation on Tuesday.
“Tomorrow,” La Follette stated, “we need five or six thousand to try and stop what [Republicans] are trying to do.”
You know, people didn't vote in record numbers just to have representatives from gerrymandered districts work to further subvert democracy.— Mandela Barnes (@TheOtherMandela) December 3, 2018
Scot Ross, head of One Wisconsin Now, was much more brazen in his speech.
“We know that a record-shattering 565,591 people early voted in the 2018 election,” he stated. “And Republicans like Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald want to end that because they think that the problem with these elections was that too many people voted.”
State Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, was also among the speakers of the evening.
“We are here today, unfortunately, because of the power-hungry Republicans in the state of Wisconsin who are afraid of your fabulous voices and actions,” she said. “Enough is enough. Right here, right now, this is what democracy looks like.”
Following the speeches, protesters stormed into the Capitol building to register against the session bill, chanting “This is what democracy looks like; show them what democracy looks like.”
Protests are expected to continue into Tuesday morning and afternoon before voting on the legislation begins.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter