Thursday, July 26, 2012

Racine's Long Ties To Voter Suppression Efforts

After the June recall election, Racine became synonymous in the eyes of many for voter "irregularies" a word downgraded from "fraud" which was bandied about until someone pointed out no fraud was found. Even after the Republican appointed DA in Racine noted that allegations made by local Republicans did not constitute any crimes (except the ones they committed themselves) - the damage was done - which was the point.

There are a number of stories and complaints out there about voter intimidation and/or suppression efforts that transpired at the hands of Republicans and their surrogates on Election Day in Racine, but those stories don't carry the cache that mythical voter conspiracies have for most journalists who have written on the subject. Voter fraud is the journalistic parallel of "Big Foot" stories - it doesn't exist and no one has actually seen it - but boy oh boy, it'd be cool to catch it. So let's keep talking about it until we prove it...or not.

On the other hand, real live voter intimidation gets no ink.

Why? Because if you live in Racine, it' s nothing new. In fact the whole concept of keeping minority and working people from voting had it's start right here in the Belle City.

Few people know the name of Paul Weyrich. Mainly because he is dead. Those who do know the name either think of him as a hero or saddle the entire crypto-christian-conservative movement on his head. Sure we all know Charles and David Koch, and Sheldon Adelson is quick becoming a household name. Paul Weyrich was all those guys rolled into one before they were even players in buying the elections game.

Paul Weyrich was born in Racine, Wisconsin on October 7, 1942.

This short video has become Paul Weyrich's YouTube legacy...something we sincerely hope gives him much discomfort in the afterlife:

"I don't want everybody to vote" Yep, you heard him correctly. History is such a bitch.

Paul Weyrich, during his time in Racine spent his youth as a member of the Racine County Young Republicans. Upon leaving he went to work for the Milwaukee Sentinel and then on to broadcast news reporting. Weyrich parlayed his broadcast experience in to job as a press secretary for a Republican Senator from Colorado where he met an aide for the equally conservative and super rich, Joseph Coors.

Now flush with access to money and influence, Weyrich went on to found the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), however his position among evangelical Christians and his ability in using religion to recruit for political gain was equally successful.

Weyrich is credited with not only with forming organizations which to this day have enormous power and influence in Wisconsin politics and upon conservative Wisconsin politicians, he is considered the father of the Religious Right movement and coined the phrase "moral majority."

Just a boy from Racine, who when he died was eulogized on the House floor by no less than Congressman Paul Ryan, who in his remarks said of Weyrich:
"Not content, however, with only protecting the family wallet and local business from the sticky fingers of liberal politicians, Paul also wanted to defend traditional family values and religious freedom."
Aside from not wanting people to vote, Weyrich also had this to say:
~"Christ was crucified by the Jews.... He was not what the Jews had expected so they considered Him a threat. Thus He was put to death."
~"The real enemy is the secular humanist mindset which seeks to destroy everything that is good in this society."
~"We are different from previous generations of conservatives... We are no longer working to preserve the status quo. We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure of this country."

What a nice guy.

Looking at Wisconsin's role in national politics and Reince Priebus the RNC Chairman from just down the road in Somers, Robin Vos as the state chairman of ALEC in Wisconsin and author of the voter ID bill, Racine's Fred Young - a Koch Summit attendee and big-time political funder and Charles Johnson of Racine a Koch Institute Fellow - all following the footsteps of their mentor, Paul Weyrich.

It can be no coincidence that as the national discussion heats up on voting rights and the coordinated effort across the county to disenfranchise voters - the testing ground would be Racine, Wisconsin.