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Politics in Wisconsin as they roll up to every level... and some other thoughts that may cross my mind are explored here from my lefty point of view. My values shape my opinions. You'll always find them in here. Let's have some fun exploring why Liberal values are American values!

Your comments are both welcome and encouraged!
(The watercolor is called Magnolia Tree for Momma, by Audrey Crawford)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wisconsin Anti-Death Penalty Fight: A Victory in Disguise

I'm declaring victory!

That may sound a bit odd since the referendum to reinstate the death penalty in Wisconsin passed 56/44 yesterday, but let me explain...

In March of 2006, a short 8 months ago, a poll was taken that showed Wisconsinites supporting the death penalty by 78%...78%!!!

In 8 short months with less than $100,000 spent, the coalition that came together to stop the death penalty in Wisconsin dropped the approval 22% points!!!

This is solid proof that Wisconsinites when presented with the facts will reject the idea outright of reinstating the death penalty (by the way, the coalition hardly even mentioned that it will raise individual taxes statewide to reinstate, that's a whole group who just voted yes and would be pretty ticked if they knew how much it would raise their tax bill, this fight was waged almost entirely on morality, no deterrance and unfairness which is such a small part of the whole picture of the huge number of nationwide problems).

Although most voters didn't get time to hear the entire story, many did hear enough, had the campaign had the proper time and resources to educate the entire Wisconsin public, I am absolutely confident that the referendum would have failed.

Consider these other facts:

1) The movement to stop this was almost entirely grassroots. Most Wisconsinites that knew about it in advance of going to the polls found out from friends since the media largely ignored the issue.

2) The question was rigged against us. Even the sponsor State Sen Alan Lassee admitted that the question was irrelevant to any legislation he may have tried to later pass. He deliberately added the DNA part of the question to try to manipulate uneasy voters into thinking it would be a "slam dunk" (we know how those go...).

3) With so many other campaigns being covered statewide, the death penalty message still managed to penetrate the public significantly.

4) It's going nowhere for several years. Wisconsinites are fair-minded people who booted many of the death proponents in the state legislature yesterday. They also kept the anti-death penalty Governor. Proponents who are left include Sens. Lasee and Alberta Darling (Milwaukee's North Shore) who are up for reelection in 2008. Futher legislative gains to stop the reinstatement in Wisconsin are likely as we continue to educate Wisconsin citizens on the many reasons that Death is Wrong for Wisconsin.

5) We are now organized. The most amazing thing to come out of this race is the organization and alignment of groups across the political, social and religious spectrums. The ACLU of Wisconsin, Amnesty International, The Benedictine Nuns, the Catholic Bishops, the NAACP, the American Jewish Federation, Peace Action of Wisconsin, and hundreds of other groups and individuals statewide made and renewed alliances around this issue. This bonds made in this battle will extend far beyond the anti-death penalty issue and make our state stronger.

6) We are unlikely to see this on other ballots in 2008 nationwide. The Republican party's stated goal of this referendum was to drive voter turnout for Mark Green. It was a hideous way to do so, and yet, it failed. Turnout was extremely high statewide and yet those who were energized by this and the amendment were young college students and they actually took over the elections in nearly every college town in Wisconsin to stop these issues. They were passionate about voting and did so in numbers never seen before in a Wisconsin mid-term and after they voted on these issues, they voted out state legislators in places like Racine and Eau Claire and breathed fresh blood into the Doyle race. It's stated goal was a complete backfire and a shot over the bow nationwide that it's NOT a good idea to try to pull this one again.

So to those of you who are sad today on this result, don't be. It's dead in the water for now and the only caution I give to all Wisconsinites who care about this issue is that they keep on top of nationwide developments and that they make sure they ASK their state legislative candidates in the future where they stand on the death penalty...and hold any left in the legislature accountable for this entire waste of our time in 2008.

Here's a friendly warning to the elected officials. This is what we were able to accomplish with no resources or time on an advisory referendum, imagine what we could do should it be brought up in the legislature!!!

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