How Has It Come To This?

I’ve posted a lot about electoral structures that are currently enabling a distinct minority of Americans to govern the rest of us. One of those systematic distortions–gerrymandering–has been enabled by a judiciary unwilling to say what we all can see: that the practice is contrary to “one person, one vote” and thus the Constitution.

What’s relatively new is the willingness of the GOP to publicly defend its attacks on democracy.

In Wisconsin, Republicans have benefitted from a combination of extreme gerrymandering and the political complicity of a state Supreme Court dominated by Rightwing judges. A liberal judge just won a seat on that body (by a surprisingly large margin in a state where close elections have been the norm), and Republicans threatened to impeach her–before she can participate in a single case.

As an essay in the Guardian explains:

In 2011, Republicans gerrymandered Wisconsin’s state legislature so badly that the party can win supermajorities despite losing the popular vote, as it did in 2018. Voters have fought back, and earlier this year they elected Janet Protasiewicz to the state supreme court, ushering in a new liberal majority which looked poised to finally overturn the gerrymander and bring democratic regime change to Madison.

But Wisconsin Republicans have no intention of seeing their undeserved power slip away. They’re proposing to impeach Protasiewicz on spurious charges before she has ruled on a single case, paralyzing the court and leaving the gerrymander intact.

When Trump argued that he was the real winner of the election because the votes of people living in Democratic-leaning urban areas were somehow fraudulent and should not count, he was repeating arguments that Wisconsin Republicans had already honed. The speaker of the state assembly, Robin Vos, has explained that the state’s gerrymander is fair because “if you took Madison and Milwaukee out of the state election formula, we would have a clear majority”. Because Madison and Milwaukee are the parts of the state with the largest concentration of non-white voters, Vos has revealed what the Wisconsin gerrymander is really about: race.

No surprise there. The urban/rural divide isn’t just about racism, but rural racial grievance explains a lot.

Per Talking Points Memo, the election of a liberal judge to the state’s high court infuriated the beneficiaries of Wisconsin’s undemocratic gerrymandering.

For months, Republicans have been plotting how best to overturn her election, as two redistricting lawsuits were immediately filed at the state’s high court. In recent weeks, they’ve been coalescing around impeaching her, settling on the rationale that she called the state’s maps “rigged.” Notably, state Republicans have not brought the same ire to Justices Rebecca Bradley and Brian Hagedorn continuing to preside over abortion cases after likening abortion to the Holocaust and calling Planned Parenthood a “wicked organization,” respectively. 

The GOP is threatening to impeach both Protasiewicz, the judge, and Evers, the Democratic governor (since you can’t gerrymander statewide elections, voters were able to elect a liberal justice and a Democratic Governor). “The threat of actual democracy has convulsed the state government, while state Democrats express their outrage from their manufactured permanent minority.”

The use of skewed election systems to suppress the voices of minority voters is not new to the U.S. Wisconsin is only a blatant example.

Like their predecessors in other states, Wisconsin Republicans have been remarkably frank about their intention of ensuring that minorities stay in their place. When Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers powered to victory in 2018 with massive wins in Madison and Milwaukee, the Republican legislature used a lame-duck session to strip him of much of his power. Not content with that, Evers’ Republican opponent in 2022, Tim Michels, promised that if he was elected then Republicans in Wisconsin “will never lose another election”.

Give him credit for transparency…

Republicans aren’t even pretending any more. It’s not just Wisconsin–but what happens in Wisconsin will be a test case, telling us whether these increasingly brazen attempts to secure minority rule will succeed.

The author of the Guardian essay–a British historian of the United States–notes that Wisconsin Republicans were among the most fervent backers of Trump’s undemocratic coup attempt, “but they needed no lessons from him in how to suppress the will of the people.” 

The Republican party’s belief in its own god-given right to rule – and that of its white, rural electorate – found its most dangerous expression in Trump’s attempt to overthrow the 2020 election, but it long predated him. It will outlive him unless it is chastened by accountability and defeat at every turn. All eyes are now on Wisconsin and Janet Protasiewicz to see if it will be. 

If the Wisconsin GOP’s shameless abandonment of even a pretense of playing by the rules succeeds, we’re in for a world of hurt.


  1. Most people believe Trump lost the election. But where did the ballots come from and were election process unconstitutionally changed.
    Just because someone removes certain areas and makes stances on demographics doesn’t mean the electoral process is about race in any means. Too many assumptions are being made. The constitution is what binds us together and without it the mob rule effect takes precedent.
    Farmers are a minority, if they aren’t represented we lose our food supply. Look at the current administrations failure to hold down costs. Elections di have consequences. We are bringing in more revenue and spending $2 trillion more than we are bring in. Investors who know the current sham show see the recession is being propoed up by the future of our children.
    They slso note that past Obama economic advisors are on TV lying that revenues are diwn crazy stuff.

  2. James Allison–without Indiana’s disgraceful gerrymander, Republicans would probably still have a majority at the Statehouse, but that majority would be considerably smaller, forcing far more compromise and negotiation than we see with the arrogance that comes with a manufactured super-majority. How long our legislative overlords can maintain this gerrymander, as rural areas continue to empty out, remains to be seen.

  3. James, Indiana’s gerrymandering is just as bad, but Hoosiers applaud their effort for the most part.

    Since Republicans refuse to legislate, they can spend their time on rigging elections. This is what they do for their masters, the oligarchs.

    If Democrats were to win elections, they would restore the government’s regulating responsibilities and might increase taxes on the oligarchs. This is why they cheat, lie, and steal.

    Sheila writes above, “Republicans aren’t even pretending anymore.”

    What’s happening in Wisconsin with Republicans is the same across the board. They all get their plans from the oligarch-assembled ALEC. Every rotten act in Wisconsin is happening in the other red states.

    Hoosiers aren’t balking enough in Indiana, so it’s not out in the open (opaque). Folks from Michigan and Wisconsin know they’re being oppressed and react (vote) accordingly. Hoosiers, not so much. Not sure what it will take in Indiana. We are collectively a backward bunch.

  4. Welp! Look at who the Biden administration has appointed as the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine’s Economic Recovery,Penny Pritzker.

    Penny was on the board of Superior Bank,which her tax evading family bought for 645 million in government credits. The bank collapsed after a subprime scandal, costing 1400+ uninsured depositors their life savings.

    Too bad so many dismiss history. The grifting continues.

  5. Ian, did we ever assign a special inspector general to Ukraine? I’m guessing we did not because Ukraine has many kickbacks and grifting—billions flowing through the country.

    Ukraine was the most corrupt country in Eastern Europe before the invasion, so we overthrew the democratically-elected Prez. We worked with Fascists to overthrow the government, causing Russia to take Crimea.

    It’s no accident that Hunter Biden was looting in Ukraine with his daddy’s help. Both political parties are a mess, and the American people are paying the ultimate price.

  6. I’ve mentioned this before and will mention it again – we never hear anything from our country’s national Democrat Party leadership. Might that be because the top leadership is completely owned by powerful oligarchs? BTW this was a rhetorical sentence. Likewise, Indiana’s top Democrat Party leadership remains completely silent. If they are seen or heard by anyone I can guarantee it isn’t by those of us in rural areas.

  7. After reading Heather Cox Richardson’s blog today and following it with Sheila’s, I am thinking about the power of public awareness. Nancy said “we never hear anything from our country’s national Democrat Party leadership.” Where have you been, Nancy? I’ve been listening to them for decades. Maybe it takes violence, martyrdom, and personal suffering to make some (most?) people pay attention. The people of Wisconsin see the threat. Can we learn from them?
    I think the public is waking up, stirring, and beginning to open their eyes. In the 1960’s it took Bull Conner, fire hoses, police dogs and dynamited children to accomplish that. We’ve seen murdered Black people, cars running through peaceful protesters, a mob attacking the Capitol and a transparent attempt to overturn a presidential election. Not to mention a major political party extolling the virtues of Putin, a mass murderer who assassinates his political opponents and directs war crimes.
    When the public becomes fully aware and starts stretching their muscles, watch out.

  8. Nancy, why should any national party organization be talking about anything. Commenting on policy isn’t their job, until the convention. Then, their job is to describe the party’s platform. They are responsible for the recruitment of candidates and for raising money. We only hear from the Republican national committee because they don’t have a platform, so they make noise. It distracts from the lack of policy.

    Todd, how can you buy that Russian b.s.? Yes, Ukraine has a past that is laden with corruption, but they have been working to correct that. They might have a way to go and their population still needs to be more tolerant, but so does ours. They are not Nazis!

  9. Districts are a political party making way for our current problem. Jacksonian had its blessings and curses. Prior election of House members entirely at large.That is the reason House members do not have live in the district they seek to represent. They just must reside in the state.

  10. “Electoral structures that are currently enabling a distinct minority of Americans to govern the rest of us.”

    In my mental dictionary, saying what Sheila said, in the smallest number of words instead of my usual style, is that “power” is readily mistaken for “freedom”, though they are diametric opposites.

    How can that be? Power is sold through an illusion of concentrated governance granting apparent freedom for some of the people to get more of what they want over the rest.

    Considering “democracy” and Lord Upton though, the illusion is elusive and temporary and soon revealed to be control of all of the people by one.

    Especially to the crowd pictured in these lyrics.

    Cafe on the Corner

    At the cafe down on the corner
    With a lost look on his face
    There ain’t no fields to plow
    No reason to now
    He’s just a little out of place

    They say crime don’t pay
    But neither does farmin’ these days
    And the coffee is cold
    And he’s fifty years old
    And he’s gotta learn to live some other way
    At the cafe down on the corner

    With a lost look on his face
    There ain’t no fields to plow
    He’s busin’ tables now
    He’s just a little out of place
    And the meek shall inherit the earth
    And the bank shall repossess it
    This job don’t pay half what it’s worth
    But it’s a thankful man that gets it

    At the cafe down on the corner
    With a lost look on his face
    There ain’t no fields to plow
    He’s wishin’ for one now
    He’s just a little out of place

    All these soldiers without wars
    And hometown boys without a home
    Farmers without fields
    Dealers without deals
    And they sit here drinkin’ coffee all alone

    At the cafe down on the corner
    With a lost look on their face
    There ain’t no fields to plow
    They’re wishin’ for one now
    They’re just a little out of place

    Source: LyricFind (
    Songwriters: M. McAnally
    Cafe on the
    Corner lyrics © Beginner Music

  11. “How Has It Come To This?”

    Americans have taken too much for granted over the past century, ignored for decades the warnings of destroying our environment, abused easy credit and then surprised to find themselves in debt, disbelieving about the coming Pandemic and ignored the political downfall into the current criminal element and didn’t bother to vote or just fill in their usual Republican or Democratic oval on the ballot. The resignation of Richard Nixon in 1973, with the immediate pardon by his hand-picked Vice President Gerald Ford should have been a wake-up call to pay more attention to what was going on all around them.

    “How Has It Come To This?” indeed!

  12. Whatever happened to Baker v. Carr, a (as I recall) 1962 case affirming the doctrine of “one man – one vote,” and speaking of doctrines, whatever happened to the doctrine of stare decisis (Baker, Dobbs et al)? Originalism via Alito and Crow, I mean, Clarence?

    Todd > Are we shocked, shocked, that there is gambling in Rick’s Cafe? We must deal with corrupt politicians on every continent with the possible exception of Antartica, and those so corrupted or uncorrupted must deal with ours. It’s a real world, but we should not be comparing apples with oranges. The right to vote and the right to have one’s vote counted in proportion to Baker are constitutional issues, and though corruptly motivated, such issues are not subject to a comparison with international corruption. We are not Argentina, yet.

    As to what can be done to end gerrymandering, Whitmer of Michigan’s tri-fecta recent victory at the polls, an independent commission in charge of redistricting and a constitutional provision taking the evil out of such a partisan exercise are informative. Trouble is, politicians are generally loath to give up such a tool to stay in power. Her powerful leadership made the difference.

    Perhaps our ultimate solution rests in an FDR/Whitmer-type super leadership. It certainly does not rest in Indiana’s super-majority legislature where the good times just keep on rolling and our non-rural vote (whatever our color) is plainly at odds with Baker, like Wisconsin, where numbers fell prey to partisan redistricting and resulting underrepresentation. Electing statewide Democratic candidates free of gerrymandering a la Michigan would be a good start. Leadership, anyone?

  13. JoAnn, it came to this when the majority began voting for their own selfish reasons instead of for the common good.

  14. Sharon – please tell me where your sources are for listening to the national Democrat party leadership for decades. I’m referring to the national party leadership, not Democrat party leaders in other states.

  15. Peggy, I must disagree with your statement that the national Democrat party leadership doesn’t need to be talking about anything. I believe both the national and state party leadership needs to be seen and heard as much as possible. This would help energize left leaning citizens all across the country and potentially encourage people to run for office if they knew they could count on help from the party. That is what good leaders do instead of just sitting in closed door meetings out of the public’s sight. This holds true for political party leaders as well as business leaders.

  16. Right…gambling in Rick’s café? OMG!
    Sadly, politics attracts many too many odious people, with its promise of power and money.
    Ford’s pardon of Tricky Dick is still resonating in the U.S. And, now, Paxton has been exonerated!
    Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, Indiana…all seats of criminal legislatures bent on nothing but retaining power.
    Is there a seriously growing rumble from those who have been forced into the political sidelines? It seems possible, but folks will really have to get out there, and VOTE!

  17. Nancy. Presidents Clinton, Obama and Biden. Congress persons Pelosi, Schumer, et. al. Who are they if not national Democratic Party leadership? Have you been paying no attention to them? Perhaps you should Google some of their speeches. They have not been mute for the last 30 years.

  18. Sharon, for some reason you feel the need to be snarky/rude. How about you reread my prior comments to realize I am referring to the actual PARTY leaders at the national and state levels – NOT the individuals elected to state legislatures or congress!

  19. John S. in the very first comment is a good example of the ignorant despicable right wing white bigots in this state and country (I don’t even have to ASK if John S. is white, of course the moron is!) Fuck how I hate living in a country with these hateful right wing fascist scumbags!!!

  20. Nancy. Sorry. Please tell me the names of the people you are referring to and who their republican counterparts are.

  21. Joseph Momma is a Lee Harvey Oswald still in development.

    I hope someone is keeping an eye on him –before he escapes to that bucolic casita south of the border. He does protest a bit too much. Of course,he could just be a harmless drama queen or another sockpuppet.

  22. Sharon- Mike Schmul is the Dem party chair in Indiana. Jamie Harrison is the national Dem party chair. If you would choose to take the time to be actively involved within the Democrat party you would know these names and wouldn’t have assumed that I don’t know what is going on.

  23. The Republican Party has an agenda. It is to make our country a “White Christian Nationalist Country” ruled by authoritarian leadership. The wealthy will rule the rest of us that are considered their “mudsill”, per James H. Hamond. That is pretty scary to me!

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