In recent years lots of people have been calling lots of other people fascists.
During the Trump Presidency, for example, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and others decided after careful reflection that Donald Trump qualified as a fascist. Trump himself seemed not to notice, and if he did, he most likely dismissed the label as just another pejorative hurled by his enemies.
In contemporary Europe important political figures have been called fascists. Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary and President Recep Tayyip Ergodan of Turkey sometimes wear the label. In France critics suggest right-wing leader Marine Le Pen is a fascist, but she complicated the labeling by expelling her father Jean-Marie Le Pen from their political party because he was a fascist.
Fascist-labeling, to coin a term, has been rampant during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin’s Russian government has long since ceased to be Communist, but in the opinion of some Putin is certainly a fascist. For his part, Putin has stated that the Ukrainian government is dominated by fascists, an allegation Ukrainian President Vodymyr Zelinsky has ridiculed since, as a Jew, he could not possibly be a fascist.
Many of the allegations that somebody is a fascist amount to calling a person a bully or perhaps an autocrat. But what is fascism? Continue reading “What Is Fascism?”
Prof. Rick Hasen of UCLA, an expert in election law, had an op-ed in Friday’s New York Times that argued that in the wake of the 2020 election and its aftermath, including the January 6th attack on Congress, “[w]e must not succumb to despair on indifference. It won’t be easy, but there is a path forward if we begin acting now, together, to shore up our fragile election ecosystem.”
Unfortunately, I disagree. The fact that there is no path forward unless X, Y, and Z happen does not mean that X, Y, and Z will happen. It could well be that there is no path forward. And no path is likely to be available until a significant portion of the American public fundamentally change their present views about their society and their fellow citizens. Continue reading “No Exit”
Ron Kind says he wants to leave the United States House of Representatives after 26 years on a hopeful and optimistic note. But that is hard in the current political environment, he made clear during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Wednesday (Dec. 1, 2021).
The state of American democracy is “very fragile,” he told Gousha, Marquette Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy. He said that on Jan. 6, 2021, the nation was “a majority away” from having an armed overthrow of the government when people stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Joe Biden from being formally declared to be the president. He said that if Republicans had been in the majority, there likely would have been a major constitutional crisis.
More generally, Kind, a moderate Democrat who has represented western Wisconsin in the House since 1997, said, “Unquestionably, our politics have gotten very toxic in recent years.” That is hard for someone like him., he said, because he has always tried to have good relationships with members of Congress from across the spectrum. Continue reading “In an “On the Issues” Interview, Rep. Kind Warns of “A Very Perilous Time” for Democracy”
This blog post continues the focus of the Law School’s Lubar Center on redistricting.
Hurtling toward a Nov. 23 deadline to redraw their district lines, Wisconsin’s largest city and county left no room for error.
The Milwaukee County Board voted Nov. 22 to finalize a new supervisory district map, while the Milwaukee Common Council will vote Nov. 23 on new aldermanic districts.
By contrast, the Dane County Board crossed the finish line with a few days to spare, adopting a final supervisory map for the evening of Nov. 18. And Madison’s Common Council completed its work on both aldermanic districts and voting wards on Nov. 2, well ahead of deadline.
The contrasting timetables reflect the contrasting results of the Badger State’s first experiments with using independent advisory panels to help draw local district lines. Those panels succeeded in Dane County and the Racine Unified School District, but their work ended in rejection and recriminations in Milwaukee and Brown counties. Continue reading “Under Pressure, Independent Panels Produce Mixed Results in Local Redistricting”
This blog post continues the focus of the Law School’s Lubar Center on redistricting.
In the litigation over Wisconsin legislative and congressional redistricting, both sides say they’re not on a venue-shopping spree.
But however it’s characterized, virtually all of the legal action to date has been directed toward deciding which court will hear the case—and perhaps ultimately draw the maps for Wisconsin’s Assembly, state Senate and U.S. House districts—and when.
Officially, the job of redrawing those lines after each decennial census belongs to the Legislature, subject to veto by the governor. But both sides—and even a federal judge—have cast doubt on the chances that Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers will agree on maps. Both sides argue that their preferred courts must be ready to step in swiftly if the legislative process breaks down. Continue reading “Battle over Venue Defines First Phase of Litigation on Wisconsin Redistricting “
She’s a D, he’s an R. But State Rep. Shelia Stubbs, a Democrat from Madison who is Black, and State Rep. Jim Steineke, a Republican from Kaukauna who is majority leader of the Assembly and who is white, also are friends who have confidence that the other will act in good faith.
If you expected them not to work together in leading the Speaker’s Task Force on Racial Disparities, created by the Republican leader of the Assembly, Rep .Robin Vos, and if you expected the task force not to come to agreement on a proposals for legislation focused on law enforcement issues that have stirred controversy, you were wrong.
In an “On the issues with Mike Gousha” program posted on the Marquette Law School web site on May 19, Steineke and Stubbs were optimistic that the 18 proposals from the task force would become law before the end of June. They also expressed hope that the way they worked together could help change the contentious tone of so much that goes in Wisconsin politics. Continue reading “Can a Task Force’s Agreement on Controversial Ideas Spur a Better Tone in Politics?”
The 2020 election is over, but the need for election reform continues, the chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party, Andrew Hitt, said during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program posted on Marquette Law School’s web site on Feb. 9, 2021.
So expect legislative action on that front and, given the likelihood of vetoes by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, new lawsuits and efforts to get the Wisconsin Election Commission to take more action regarding election rules, Hitt said.
But, Reid Ribble, who represented an area including Green Bay as a Republican member of the US House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017, took a different approach to the subject, suggesting it would be “a huge confidence boost for everyone” if legislators and the governor came together on a bipartisan plan for election integrity. Continue reading “Election Reform Efforts Are Needed in Wisconsin, GOP Party Chair Says”
This was published as an opinion column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on November 15, 2020.
On August 11, 2020, the Marquette Law School Poll released a round of results that included some remarkable findings: 35% of Wisconsin voters planned to vote early by mail, and 81% of those voters planned to vote for Democratic candidate Joe Biden for president. Another 46% were planning to vote in person on election day, and 67% of them planned to vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump. And 12% were planning to vote early in-person and were pretty evenly split.
The numbers didn’t attract much attention from commentators. But they gave a big heads-up about what was likely to unfold nearly three months later, after the polls closed on November 3. There were going to be unprecedented numbers of absentee voters, and they were going to vote overwhelmingly for Biden. And a majority of in-person election day votes would go for Trump.
This became a key to understanding election night and week, not only in Wisconsin, but in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and several other states. Based on in-person voting, Trump took the lead in each one on election night. Results from absentee votes were reported more slowly. Biden won by big margins among absentees, and Trump’s early lead shrank and then disappeared. Continue reading “Beyond the Horse Races, There is Deeper and Broader Value in Public Polling”
Warnings about forces shaping the future of the US Supreme Court were the common denominator in two virtual “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” programs in recent days. But the warnings pointed in much different directions.
In one conversation with Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy, Russ Feingold, a former Democratic senator from Wisconsin who recently became president of the American Constitution Society, said that if Democrats regain control of the White House and Senate, action may be taken to respond to what he called the stealing of two US Supreme Court seats by Republicans.
Feingold said that Republicans who rapidly approved the nomination of Justice Amy Coney Barrett are “setting off a situation where progressives and Democrats and others may have no choice but to consider the basic nature of judicial tenure or the number of members on the Supreme Court.”
“When you have been stolen form — and I will maintain that view — there needs to be compensation, there needs to be reparation, “Feingold said. “Something has to be done to undo this, or the United State Supreme Court is going to be in a freefall in terms of its credibility.”
The second seat Feingold referred to as stolen was the one denied Judge Merrick Garland in 2016 after he was nominated to the Court by President Barack Obama and Republicans refused to consider him.
The American Constitution Society is a liberal organization that is intended to counter the conservative Federalist Society, which has been deeply involved in appointments of justices and federal judges. While the American Constitution Society is not allowed to lobby on political matters, Feingold was clear on his own views and those of allies of the society.
In the other conversation, David French and Sarah Isgur, both involved with The Dispatch, a conservative multi-media organization, said that steps such as the ones Feingold described would not succeed. French is a senior editor at The Dispatch, a columnist for Time, and an author. Isgur is a staff writer for The Dispatch and a commentator on CNN. She worked formerly for the Republican National Committee and was a spokesperson for US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Continue reading “Two “On the Issues” Programs Bring Strong, But Differing Views on the Supreme Court’s Future”
In 2011, Dale Schultz was a Republican state senator from Richland Center and he voted for a plan created by Republicans to draw new boundaries for legislative districts in Wisconsin that helped the party grow and solidify its control of the legislature.
It’s a long-standing practice in politics. In different times and places, both Democrats and Republicans have tailored district lines to favor their party. It’s called gerrymandering.
Schultz, who left the legislature in 2015, and a former state Senate colleague, Democrat Tim Cullen, who also left office in 2015, have come to call it an abuse of power. Continue reading “Gerrymandering Opponents Describe Fight for Non-partisan Political Boundaries”
In the press release for today’s Marquette University Law School Poll, you’ll find the following sentence: “Given the uncertainty created by historically high levels of absentee voting and the unknown levels of election day turnout, these results should be viewed with more than the usual caution.”
Poll Director Charles Franklin is referring specifically to the polling numbers in the Democratic presidential primary. But his note of caution seems wise as we careen toward next Tuesday’s election.
Put another way, we don’t know what we don’t know about this spring election.
After reporting, writing, and talking about Wisconsin politics for 40 years, I thought I had seen it all. I was wrong. Continue reading “An Anything But Normal Election”
In what seems to be the theme for this Spring 2020 Semester, we made a change in this year’s spring break trip. Instead of heading to Israel, our traditional trip for the last decade, a group of 30 students two faculty, and myself headed to Ireland and Northern Ireland for a look at Comparative Conflict Resolution. For about 10 of the students, the trip was a compliment to last year’s Israel / Palestine experience, while for many others, this was a trip of firsts.
I should note off the bat that this was a first for all of us to come home to this uncertainty and new normal. We left in early March worried about small outbreaks and came home to quarantines, home isolation and remote classes. In the vein of keeping us thinking about interesting things, though, I wanted to get the blogs going and share reflections from the students. Continue reading “Ireland Reflections 2020”