Recent years have seen a disquieting affair in American politics. It seems that a certain local official – a conservative, partisan Republican – decided that he hated a leading Democrat in his State. The Democrat’s policies threatened the official’s wife’s job. The official and his wife joined in public protests against the policies, but not merely that. The official went on to use his office to harass a bunch of liberals with over-investigation.
This Republican official only ever found some minor offenses where the leading Democrat was not at all implicated – but it didn’t stop him from continually widening his secret investigation of the hated Democrat, his staff, and many of the State’s liberal advocacy groups.
The investigation included police raids on liberal staffers’ homes which frightened their families, seized their equipment and forced large legal bills upon them, with the victims kept under gag orders (where they couldn’t protest the raids). Plus the convenient (and probably illegal) leaking of their documents. It worked: One side of the political advocacy in that State was hindered, if not paralyzed.
Does that sound more like Nazi Germany than America? Yes, it does. By the way, the persecuted “Democrat” was Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin. The persecuted “liberal” advocacy groups were conservative supporters of his policies. And the “Republican” doing all that persecuting was John Chisholm (D), Milwaukee’s pro-union District Attorney.
George Will and William A. Jacobson have written about this matter. The legal fallout is still happening (and will doubtless go to Wisconsin’s Supreme Court). Thus far, the fallout includes both federal and State judges who have been outraged by the sheer one-sidedness and/or groundlessness of many of Chisholm’s actions.
Since Walker just won re-election by seven points, we know that Chisholm’s tactics didn’t work – this time. But, regardless of who won, Chisholm has undermined the legitimacy of American government. Walker’s opponent, Mary Burke, has done all she could to keep Walker under a cloud for the mere fact of Chisholm investigating him. And if Burke had won, she would now be under a cloud for having won illegitimately, by exploiting governmental suppression of her opponents’ voices.
I’m sure that some honest lefties remain in this world, who are outraged by Chisholm’s actions. But many other lefties will find it A-OK. Using the power of the State to crush dissent against leftism: it’s what some of them dream of. After all, it’s what Lois Lerner apparently tried to do (when she had the IRS target conservatives), and it’s what many lefties abroad have practiced for generations.
UPDATE: Outrageous ‘John Doe’ prosecution of Scott Walker supporters in Wisconsin ends. Along the way, WI’s Government Accountability Board admitted that the investigations were legally “indefensible”. And yet…they happened. Heads ought to roll. Will they? At least some of the victims are pursuing a federal civil rights lawsuit against Chisholm.