By Senator Lena C. Taylor
A week ago, a group of conservative supporters held the Audit the Vote Rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol. With colorful characters like rejected Homeland Security non-candidate David Clarke and Donald Trump supporter GOP legislator Rep. Janel Brandtjen, Milwaukee has again been caught in the crosshairs of delusional efforts to prove that there was massive voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Brandtjen, who as the chairwoman of the Assembly Elections Committee, has decided that Wisconsin needs yet a third and concurrently running investigation or “forensic audit” of Milwaukee and Brown County ballots, voting machines and relevant election materials. Did I mention that we already have two other election investigations happening? Right now! As we speak! Already! Either my Republican colleague missed the memo or there is something else at play.
The Republicans have already requested one review and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos requested another. While the Vos investigation is a sham, at least the other election audit is being conducted by the non-partisan Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau. However, the initial response to such overt pains to harass and malign Milwaukee voters, and Black people in particular, could leave you speechless. But then I thought about Mahalia Jackson.
The iconic gospel singer often said “If you dig one ditch you better dig two, cause the trap you set just may be for you.” This quote accurately reflects the problem of conservative groups and their legislative allies to disenfranchise black voters and democratically leaning communities. I encourage members of the GOP to take Jackson’s words to heart.
Nationally and locally, far too many Republicans are willing to tell people what they want to hear instead of what is the truth: There was no rampant voter fraud in Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential elections.
What members of the GOP don’t seem to appreciate is that once you sow doubt and distrust in our elections, it knows no boundaries. Just as Audit the Vote Rally attendees demonstrated with signs and chants calling on conservatives to “Vote Vos Out”, no one is going to be spared, when we play games with our democracy. Republican election officials, around the country, have had members of their own party turn on them because of the lies that Trump and his enablers have fed them. Others have had to leave their party.
Vos, and eventually Brandtjen, have found out that even when you do everything you can in furtherance of Trump’s stolen election lie, it still won’t be enough. These politically self-serving stunts are harmful and costly. These legislators are playing with emotionally-charged fire. While intended to distract from the cowardice, of a political party unwilling to tell its members the truth, they are dousing our political infrastructure with gasoline. More importantly, they are miscalculating the impact of their partisan games. The goal is to hurt and disenfranchise voters from my community. But like Jackson said, “dig two” ditches, because they are going to bury democracy for all of us, themselves included.