Sunday, July 31, 2011

Anarchy on the North Shore

By Bill Kraus

The non party tea party is not in the majority.

What it is or what its self-defining adherents are is a controlling minority.

Welcome to Israel.

Its non caucus is numerous enough to unravel the presumed GOP majority in Washington. The Fitzgeralds are not having Boehner’s problems in Wisconsin. This may be attributed to the fact that the GOP majority here is more like the tea party than it admits or cares to admit.

Whatever the names and alignments and difficulties this new third force is spawning it is fundamentally a new name for an old faction. This faction was generously described as libertarian, less generously as anarchistic. This tea party grandparent was something called The North Shore Republican Club. This was, may still be, a party within the party composed of residents of the northern suburbs of Milwaukee. The club was powerful enough to pick the delegates to the Republican Party State Conventions in the 1960s when being a delegate to the Republican Party State Convention was politically important.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Redistricting follies

By Bill Kraus

The Fantasy:

Once the disenfranchised majority learned that they were disenfranchised, they would rise up and demand reform.

The legislative leaders would want to give their endangered recallees something to talk about in these elections so they will be more winnable than a referendum on the governor might be.

The governor would like to get this contentious turf battle (all turf battles ultimately become both contentious and petty) off his agenda and desk.

A virtual organization in favor of the idea might not clutter the Capitol grounds but thousands of citizens would sign petitions in favor of taking the fox (the Legislature) out of the redistricting henhouse.

Legislators who have had a tough winter would flock to the cause and rush to sign on to the Iowa system bill to show they haven’t forgotten fairness and good government.

The press would jump on the issue as a news story and editorial issue and would cover every move every day to keep the attention and pressure levels high.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Giving people what they don't want

By Bill Kraus

The legislative leaders' chance to cap campaign spending ended when the Supreme Court opened the money floodgates to everybody, making campaigns both expensive and endless.

The people did not like this.

The legislative leaders who have succeeded to the jobs of slating, funding, and orchestrating campaigns from the eunuched parties responded to this costly, to them, development, by redistricting legislative districts to reduce the number of campaigns that are unpredictable enough to be worth contesting.

The people either didn't notice this or care enough to protest.

The result is that the hold on the political agenda by the money and the zealots increased, because both are inordinately important in the low-turnout primaries which have become the main battlegrounds for otherwise invincible incumbents.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Football and Baseball

By Bill Kraus

In the latest decision from the U.S. Supreme Court displaying that body’s obsession with free speech and indifference to collateral damage, the chief justice said “politics is not a game.”


That great Wisconsin political sage Charlie Davis introduced me to an adage coined by a long forgotten German philosopher.

Said German said: “Politics is the only game for adults. All other games are for children.”

I agree.

The single biggest source of dysfunction in the political game is that the Supreme Court has come down in favor of funding the political game the way Major League Baseball is funded instead of the way the National Football League is funded.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pointing toward appointing

By Bill Kraus

Among the longest running lost causes in Wisconsin is the occasional attempt to move away from an elected judiciary to one of the several systems many other states use to appoint judges is the least likely to change.

Or not.

Electing judges is in our Constitution.

Electing everybody is in our genes.

Former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor spoke to the annual meeting of the Wisconsin State Bar Association last year and urged that organization to urge the state’s political leaders to change the Constitution so the state could appoint instead of elect judges.

With the sole exception of the Wisconsin State Journal’s editorial page editor Scott Milfred, every other member of the panel picked to discuss this subject pretty much dismissed the prospect of this ever happening.

“We elect coroners,” one panelist pointed out.