The unseemly bullying by Republican leadership in the Wisconsin Senate on June 12 helps explain why our state has dropped to the bottom economically and moved to the top in terms of ugly partisan divisiveness.
In a nation that’s more divided along partisan lines than at any time in recent memory, Wisconsin is the most divided of all states.
That’s not just an opinion, it’s the conclusion of a comprehensive survey conducted by Public Policy Polling. Researchers found the gaps here between Republican and Democratic support for both the governor and the president are the country’s widest.
Two events surrounding July 4 speak volumes about the perils facing freedom.
On July 5, one day after we celebrated our founders’ vision of a society based on individual liberty, Gov. Scott Walker signed into law one of the most flagrant abuses of personal freedom the state has seen in decades. Senate Bill 206 stipulates that doctors performing abortion procedures must have admitting privileges with hospitals within a 30-mile radius. Since such privileges were not required in the past and since hospitals run by religious denominations (including three out of five of Milwaukee’s largest hospital systems) will not provide them for birth-control services, access to abortion has been severely curtailed where it hasn’t been eliminated altogether in the state.
A homophobic diner visited the Applebee’s in Rice Lake last month, where he was waited on by out gay server Tim Phares. After slinging derogatory anti-gay epithets at Phares behind his back all evening – slurs that were overheard and reported by diners at nearby tables – the culprit called the following day to say he would not eat at the restaurant again until it fired Phares.
As we celebrate LGBT advances and Independence Day, we also observe the 150th anniversary of the battles of Vicksburg and Gettysburg. Those two huge battles were turning points in the Civil War, and Wisconsin men played important roles in both.
In March, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, the former head of the Wisconsin GOP, issued a report warning that the party’s future depends on cultivating minority and younger voters. He proposed doing this by taking such actions as supporting immigration reform and embracing “welcoming and inclusive” attitudes on gay rights.