The following column reflects the author’s views, and these opinions are not endorsed or supported by WisOpinion.com.
Wisconsin democracy is under attack by autocratic forces. Their victory will spell doom for a more sustainable economy and environment.
The threat comes from the ongoing onslaught of hyperpartisan early elections, plus voting restrictions, conspiracy-laden court cases, and unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud. If successful, these efforts will lead to a one-party rule that ignores the will of the people and undermines local businesses. Successes in the areas of clean energy and environmental protection are reversed.
Small business owners understand that a thriving economy depends on a vibrant democracy. The two go hand in hand. And in one-party rule, the politically well connected and business as usual will set the agenda.
To ensure a healthy economy and environment, we must strengthen, not weaken, voting rights and democracy throughout Wisconsin. A nationwide survey of small business owners found 74% support for such efforts.
Fortunately, companies large and small are taking bold steps to lead the way.
The American Sustainable Business Network (ASBN) brings together businesses and stakeholders with a shared commitment to democracy. It takes strong leadership to reject political messages designed to undermine our democratic process. ASBN strongly supports companies that offer flexible options for their employees, such as B. Voting time off, and works to increase voter turnout by promoting early voting, absentee ballots, and extended voting times to expand participation in democracy while supporting our economy.
The Wisconsin Business Leaders for Democracy sent letters of support to the Wisconsin Election Commission Administrator, staff and over 1,800 local election officials across the state, thanking them and expressing their support ahead of the 2022 election. Signers include industry leaders from Milwaukee after election officials across the country faced threats of violence and harassment in the wake of the 2020 election. “The bottom line is strong democratic processes in Wisconsin and across the country that underpin the economic success of our companies,” said David Lubar, President and CEO of Lubar & Co. “Without a fully functioning democracy, there is no thriving business environment. And that is ultimately why we all joined this effort.”
Democracy Found, another Wisconsin-based organization, advocates priority voting, a system that would offer more candidates and potentially more balanced and diverse viewpoints by a runoff election in November.
One does not have to be a member of these groups to prevent undemocratic forces from preventing free and fair elections.
Right now, candidates across the state are distributing nomination papers to go to the polls. Any voter who supports democracy should ask each candidate to answer a few simple questions. For example:
Do you support a non-partisan electoral administration as a cornerstone of our democracy?
Do you support full access to postal voting and the use of secure mailboxes?
Do you support efforts to protect election officials, including citizens and volunteers, from threats and intimidation?
These questions and more may also be asked in candidate forums, by the media, or included in stakeholder questionnaires. Political action committees should also demand that candidates applying for campaign contributions do not take any action that would undermine our democracy.
While we’re at it, shouldn’t we be requiring additional disclosures of campaign fundraising or disclaimers regarding political advertising designed to misinform and inspire suspicion in our democratic process?
Each of us has a role to play in ensuring free and fair elections. Anti-democratic movements that weaken the right to vote will only result in extremely partisan and autocratic one-party rule that favors special interests at the expense of local businesses, workers, families, communities and our environment.
In the interests of Wisconsin’s future, please support expanding voting rights to strengthen our democracy and ensure a more sustainable economy.
– John Imes is a former small business owner, co-founder of the Wisconsin Environmental Initiative and member of the ASBN Business for Democracy Working Group.