The two most anti-democratic power players in American politics have joined forces to try to erase democracy in Wisconsin. In case you missed it, here is a quick summary of the authoritarian move undertaken by a party who just lost a bunch of elections. Per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Republicans on the Legislature’s budget committee charged ahead early Tuesday with a lame-duck plan to limit early voting and scale back the powers of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general.
Among the numerous provisions included in the legislation are ones that would limit early voting to two weeks; give Republicans more control of the state agency overseeing job creation; curtail the governor’s ability to write state rules and adjust public benefits programs; and allow lawmakers to replace the attorney general with private attorneys at taxpayer expense.
The early voting limit is similar to one struck down by a federal judge in 2016. Republicans said they believed the new early voting restrictions would survive a court challenge because weekend and evening voting would be allowed during the two weeks of early voting.
Republican politicians hate democracy. That has been proven time and time again. Whether it’s trying to eliminate a Supreme Court-backed independent district commission passed by the people of Arizona, or trying to strip the Kansas State Supreme Court of its powers because of a ruling the GOP didn’t like, or telling the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court that it would disobey a lawful order, the Republican Party has made it clear that they will not let democracy get in the way of their plans to remake America in their image.
Large corporations also find democracy a trifling topic. They have profits to maintain and they can’t be bothered to care about things like paying workers a living wage or giving them health care coverage. That life-sustaining money for laborers could be better used on stock buybacks for executives! Our corporatocracy is completely unhinged, as demonstrated by the five corporations backing the Wisconsin Republicans stripping the incoming Democratic Governor and Attorney General of power. Per David Leonhardt in the New York Times:
Walgreens portrays itself as the friendly neighborhood drugstore. It gives flu shots to children, helps communities after storms, donates to charity — and makes feel-good advertisements trumpeting its various good deeds.
But Walgreens also has a tougher side, one you won’t see in those ads. To protect a tax break, the company has allied itself with Wisconsin’s brutally partisan Republican Party. That party is now in the midst of a power grab, stripping authority from Wisconsin’s governor and attorney general solely because Republicans lost those offices last month. The power grab comes after years of extreme gerrymandering, which lets Republicans dominate the legislature despite Wisconsin being a closely divided state.
So you might think that an organization that claims to care about community values would speak up. But Walgreens has not. Neither have other corporate supporters of Wisconsin Republicans, like Microsoft, Dr Pepper Snapple, J.P. Morgan Chase or Humana. It’s yet another example — alongside soaring C.E.O. pay and stagnant worker wages — of corporations abdicating the leadership role they once played in America.
Given the power that political donations have over America’s spineless politicians, if these companies were to put their foot down and say that literally overturning democracy was a bridge too far for them, we would see some different posturing coming out of the Wisconsin GOP. Instead, these five corporations—Microsoft, Dr. Pepper Snapple, J.P. Morgan Chase, Humana and Walgreens—have stayed silent, which is effectively an endorsement of this authoritarian power grab.
If you’re shocked that a bunch of capitalists are staying silent on democracy being overturned, you should pay more attention to American politics. Massive companies like Disney gave Donald Trump $5 million in 2016, and he has raised an unprecedented $100 million for his 2020 reelection campaign (to put that staggering figure in context, Obama had only raised $4 million and George W. Bush had raised $3.2 million by the midway point of their first terms). Even after committing crimes against humanity like locking babies in cages, or even crimes against capitalists in his idiotic trade war, Donald Trump is still the favored candidate among America’s capitalist class. Keep that in mind every time that Trump does something heinous—it’s endorsed by America’s financiers.
Big business loves the Republican Party because the Republican Party does whatever it can to restrict democracy wherever it can obtain power. In ten years under GOP rule, North Carolina went from a semi-normal state to “not a democracy,” according to the Electoral Integrity Project. Republicans have gerrymandered that state to such an extreme degree, that “North Carolina is not only the worst state in the USA for unfair districting but the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the Electoral Integrity Project.”
If you are in favor of democracy, it could not be clearer who your enemies are. The Republicans are the obvious problem because they’re the ones actually enacting these measures to restrict democracy, but their financial backers are just as big of offenders. If Walgreens, Microsoft, Dr. Pepper Snapple, J.P. Morgan Chase and Humana all had a problem with the Wisconsin GOP taking unprecedented steps to overturn the results of an election, they would say so. The fact that they are “in the process of evaluating” (what Walgreens told the NYT) these donations only after being revealed to the world is proof that if these companies had their way, the Wisconsin GOP would get to run roughshod all over our democracy in order for these capitalists to get a few extra percentage points of profit. Capitalism is literally destroying the world for short-term profits and unless we seriously fight back, it will succeed.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.