Stealth pro-Walker ads on AM radio serving Milwaukee's black community seek to depress minority vote | WisCommunity

Stealth pro-Walker ads on AM radio serving Milwaukee's black community seek to depress minority vote

The good news is that ads supporting Mary Burke are running on WNOV-AM, one of several radio stations serving Milwaukee's minority residents, in WNOV's case the black community. These are solid campaign spots, putting the finger of blame for deteriorating public schools, crime, housing decay, joblessness and other central city problems squarely where that blame belongs: On Scott Walker and Republicans who for the most part have bent over backwards to cut state aid to Wisconsin's biggest and most diverse city with the biggest problems.

The bad news is that third-party groups assisting the Walker gubernatorial campaign are running ads on WNOV, too. I also happened to catch one of those ads today while scanning stations on my car's radio. I couldn't take notes or record the ad, so you'll have to rely on my memory. UPDATE: Others have found the ad and you stream it by clicking on the following address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BqapUej6DY

A deep male voice, clearly suggestive of an African American, says he doesn't get it. Why should blacks bother voting for Mary Burke? She's just a "millionaire Madison liberal," part of a political crowd including Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm, city Police Chief Ed Flynn, and other local "Democratic" public officials (the police chief position is appointed by the mayor and the city's Fire and Police Commission and not by partisan election). The male voice says Democrats have made things worse for central city minorities. Sure, he says, he's not that fond of Scott Walker, but why would he bother going to the polls Tuesday and help elect Burke? He says it's time to try working with Walker. Yeah, right.

The ad doesn't make any overt endorsement for Walker but if enough voters follow the intended outcome of its message, Walker wins. In so many words, the ad says Walker and Burke are basically the same, so if you're black and vote Democratic, don't waste your time standing in long voting lines this Tuesday. Lines made longer, of course, by Scott Walker's action to cut early voting hours by more than a third.

Neither does the ad bother mentioning why Walker is so bad, presumably because conservatives know many minority Milwaukee residents already are well aware of his record, which hasn't helped them at all. The idea clearly is to neutralize Walker's many unsavory aspects by projecting them onto Burke.

So much for the idea that getting more people out to vote, no matter their political preferences, is not only a civic obligation but an essential component of a functioning democracy, too.

Again, I couldn't take notes while driving, so I couldn't jot down or keep in mind the name of the group that paid for the ad; something like Citizens for A Better Community, or some such forgettable pablum [UPDATE: this outfit calls itself "Citizens For Urban Justice"]. But clearly that's a front group for conservatives backing Walker.

If you ask me, this will only inspire more Milwaukeeans to get to the polls, because it's a reminder how hard Republicans have made it to vote, and how much harder they'd like to make it, if they stay in charge. 

Furthermore, this ad stereotypes blacks, implying they are so uninformed, apathetic and lazy that a totally vague and erroneous argument will convince them to stay home. On the contrary. Aside from the fact that many voters, including minorites, tend to stay home for mid-term elections, it's also the case that Milwaukee's black voters have shown themselves to be very informed on poltitical issues ... and they tend to turn out at higher rates than white voters

This ad suggests something else we've previously discussed in other contexts, and that's that Republicans are not at all confident Walker is going to prevail. Repubs know that if Democrats and progressives turn out in force on Tuesday, their guy is toast. That explains this latest cynical, demeaning and probably futile attempt to suppress the vote for Burke.

We probably also can expect Republican poll watchers to challenge voters at polling places, very possibly (if history is our guide) illegitimate reasons. Election supervisors appear to be well prepared for such antics, but even if such challenges fail, they'll slow down the lines and perhaps scare other voters waiting in line for their turn

In some states, Republicans have mounted their usual panoply of vote-suppression techniques, including mailings in Iowa that erroneously suggest the secret ballot on which you vote for non-GOP candidates will in fact become known to your neighbors, by implication through some vague means of a Google-type surveillance and data-collection strategy. Total nonsense, but it might scare a few people.  And groups associated with the Koch brothers have again in some states trotted out the time-worn GOP strategy of reminding people they should go to the polls Wednesday (a day too late). 

Here in Wisconsin, Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander, a staunch Republican, sent out her official newsletter at taxpayer expense to a select sub-set of her constituents, including the erroneous information that a photo ID would be needed to vote on Election Day. The Government Accountability Board soon ordered her to send a second mailing with a correction, and she said she was mailing out post cards with that corrected information on Friday. But if they're going out bulk, you have to consider it unlikely that the correction will get to voters before the election.

Unaccountabiy, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial today accepted Alexander's explanation that the erroneous mailing was printed before the U.S. Supreme Court blocked Voter ID for this election. But the court's action came almost a month ago, on October 9. What? Alexander mailed out her newsletter before then? Or did she mail it afterward, then "overlooked" her error until called upon the carpet?

Finally, we're already hearing reports about early voters in North Carolina pushing a computer election machine touch screen for a Democratic candidate and noticing that the machine records a vote for that candidate's Republican opponent. Same old same old, in other words. This kind of incident is so commonplace in America that "The Simpsons" did a sight gag on it years ago, with Homer trying to touch-screen his choice of Kerry only to have the machine thank him for recording his vote for Bush. And it led to an entire movement based on the idea of uncertain, "black box" voting.  See link below, and the comments that follow.

Bottom line: If your policy positions are so putrid you have to lie, cheat and steal in order to keep elections close, you're probably part of the political party named Republican. Ditto if you think it's cool to make it harder to vote, to allow procedures that reduce the integrity of the ballot count, and to sow confusion among voters. Rigged elections are the stuff of dictatorships. But if you're a Republican who truly believes the other side is pulling dirty tricks, then you should like many of us progressives be pushing for much more transparency and security in counting the vote. Privatizing that process, as increasingly is done in this country, does neither.

Published

November 2, 2014 - 8:31pm

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