Daily Bread for 12.6.21: The Assault on Wisconsin’s Elections

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 30.  Sunrise is 7:08 AM and sunset 4:16 PM for 09:08 hours of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 9.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

 Whitewater’s Equal Opportunities Commission meets at 5 PM (later canceled), and Whitewater’s School Board at 6 PM.

 On this day in 1790, Congress moves from New York City to Philadelphia.

 Laura Thornton, director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, writes Why international election observers would give Wisconsin a failing grade:

On Nov. 10, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Republican state lawmakers proposed a hostile takeover of election management in their state. As Johnson told the New York Times, “Unfortunately, I probably don’t expect [Democrats] to follow the rules. And other people don’t either, and that’s the problem.” Johnson’s conclusion: The current system of bipartisan oversight by both parties should be abolished, and Republican legislators must be in control of the elections in which they are competing.

I spent more than two decades living and working overseas to advance democracy and credible elections — giving me plenty of opportunity to see the lengths to which autocrats will go to gain power. Even so, the proposed Wisconsin power grab is shocking in its brazenness. If this occurred in any of the countries where the United States provides aid, it would immediately be called out as a threat to democracy. U.S. diplomats would be writing furious cables, and decision makers would be threatening to cut off the flow of assistance. Yet we are conspicuously failing to hold ourselves to the same standard.


Experts around the world have spent years analyzing the best ways to manage elections to ensure democratic outcomes. A nonpartisan election body is considered best practice. The U.S. aid agency’s own guidelines on elections emphasize the importance of neutral and independent election management. Even when countries establish a nonpartisan body of professionals, there is constant debate around how election administrators are selected and who does the selecting. In Georgia (the country), I once had to listen to hours of complaints about how an election official had a sister who in high school dated a man who was now affiliated with a political party, casting the whole election in doubt.

Knowing all this, our imaginary election observer in Wisconsin would be alarmed by Republican politicians openly stating that they alone should run the election process, rather than a bipartisan commission of professionals. (Johnson has bluntly said that the Republican-controlled state legislature should “reassert its power.”) In other countries, political parties trying to control elections usually attempt to hide their maneuvers. They might try to quietly exert pressure on election officials or curry influence with them behind the scenes. In Cambodia, where I once led an audit of the voter registry that showed serious manipulation by the election commission, its members defended their work by pointing to the commission’s ostensible independence. There is usually at least lip service to the importance of neutral election administration, in large part to assuage the international community.

See also Ron Johnson Wants It All and The WISGOP Push to Take Over the State’s Elections.

Johnson wouldn’t talk this way if a faction in the state didn’t think this way.  A faction in the state wouldn’t think this way if they didn’t see an advantage in so thinking. There wouldn’t be an advantage if this faction found, in opposition, the majority’s resolute commitment to the constitutional order.

A defense requires defenders; a resolute defense requires resolute defenders.

It’s incredible’ — conservationist captures footage of elusive Andean cat:

(N.B.: A day that starts off with a video recording of an Andean cat has an above-average chance of being a good day.)

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