vote.jpgJohn Nichols, Robert W. McChesney, and their publisher Nation Books have graciously given Grassroots North Shore permission to post an extended excerpt from their recent book, Dollarocracy. If you enjoy what you see here, you can  purchase a copy of the book from us.

The excerpt below comes from the conclusion of the final chapter called "The Right to Vote: Beginning the New Age of Reform," pages 281-284, .


The headlines of the contemporary moment lead us back to a core understanding: the time has come to end the expansion and contraction of the right to vote in America and to establish it once and for all in the nation’s constitution. Voting rights experts are correct when they argue that doing so will provide the clarity that is needed to achieve the following:

  • Guarantee the right of every citizen eighteen and older to vote.
  • Empower Congress to set national minimum electoral standards for all states to follow.
  • Provide protection against attempts to disenfranchise individual voters.
  • Eliminate those rules and practices that give some voters more power than other voters.
  • Ensure that every vote cast is counted correctly.

But this, to our view, is merely the point of departure. Most rights outlined in the U.S. Constitution are negative rights. They protect against the encroachment of the government on a citizen’s right to speak, to assemble, to petition for the redress of grievances, to own a gun, to be secure from official intrusions. The assurance of a “positive liberty” to engage in the choosing of those governments, and by extension the process of defining its direction, ought to be recognized as the most precious of all freedoms.

To establish an affirmative right to vote, we can imagine an even simpler amendment than has been proposed; one that reads: “Every American citizen 18 years of age or older has a right to vote, to the information necessary to cast an informed vote, and to the assurance that their vote will count equally with others toward the formation of local, state, and national governments.” From such an assurance could extend protections necessary to establish real democracy and a more perfect union: not just equal access to the polls but equal access to news and opinions about the candidates and parties and issues; not just the assurance of the fair counting of votes for which there is currently no guarantee but also to voting systems and electoral districts that give those votes meaning. The possibilities are, as the poet Langston Hughes might suggest, “explosive.”

Judges who have suggested that there ought to be some kind of constitutional protection against gerrymandering would finally have the tool to prevent a party in power from drawing congressional or district lines that prevent meaningful competition and effectively disenfranchise citizens.70 Citizens might finally find the standing to demand the inclusion of minority parties in debates and the FCC to require broadcasters to provide free airtime to candidates and parties and more thorough coverage of issues and campaigns.71 Proponents of instant runoff voting, proportional representation, and other approaches that countries around the world have used to ensure diversity and a deeper political discourse would find an avenue for challenging inherently unfair “first-past-the-post” voting systems that saddle states across the country with one-party rule.72

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Find Out about Your Health Insurance Options


Learn More:
Sunday, November 3rd
3:30 pm

The new health insurance options in WI can be confusing. Thousands are at risk because Walker refused to expand Medicaid. Many people do not know what their options are or how to file for insurance coverage. Learn how you, your friends, family members and neighbors can navigate the system and find affordable, accessible health insurance in Wisconsin.

Get answers from the experts:

Robert Kraig (Citizen Action of WI)
Bob DeVita (Common Ground)
Matt Hayes (Senior Law)
Danielle Zirkel (Covering Kids and Families)

  • Bring your friends, relatives, colleagues – anyone who may not have health insurance or who pays for individual insurance.

  • Healthcare coverage in Wisconsin can be a game changer for small businesses, would-be entrepreneurs, people just leaving college, and all those working for companies that do not provide benefits.

  • The presentation will be followed by Q&A, with representatives staying afterward to answer questions and provide guidance.

Where: North Shore Presbyterian Church — 4048 N. Bartlett Ave., Shorewood (use south or northeast entrance).

When: Doors open at 3:30; presentation begins at 4:00; information and consultation with presenters available after Q&A.


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Action, Action!!

Calling all Progressives: There's Work to be Done



Grassroots North Shore endorses Elizabeth Coppola in the off-cycle election in WI Assembly District 21:

The Elizabeth Coppola campaign is working to help to replace Mark Honadel with a strong progressive!
Elizabeth Coppola can turn the 21st blue again on November 19th and Progressives are one seat closer to turning around the state assembly.

This is a low turnout election. Your participation can make all the difference! When Progressives work together, we can get Elizabeth Coppola elected and take the first step in turning our legislature from red to blue.

Grassroots North Shore will be organizing phone banking from our office in Glendale beginning November 5. We will be recruiting volunteers over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, contact us for more information: [email protected].

For more information about Elizabeth's campaign, visit her web site,  Please email [email protected] or call Maura Metz at 262-370-6115.  You can like them on Facebook as well.

Grassroots North Shore is an independent expenditure group and not affiliated with any campaign or candidate. This announcement is paid for by  Grassroots North Shore, Dean Sperry, Treasurer. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's agent or committee.



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Southern Voting Patterns and the Legacy of Slavery

These two maps show the 1860 map President Lincoln used to show the reach of slavery and a 2008 map showing most of the US counties where voters trended more Republican when compared to the 2004 voting patterns in those same counties.


Although the deepest red squares on the voting map do not line up exactly with the counties where there was the highest concentration of slaves at the time of the Civil War, the proximity of the counties that became increasingly red in 2008 to the areas where slave-holding was most concentrated is hard to miss. As many analysts of voting patterns in the history of the United States have pointed out, the convergence of these two phenomena during an election in which a Republican candidate opposed an African-American one is not accidental.

Racial attitudes are probably only one factor in the increasing polarization we see in politics today, but it is clearly a potent one.

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A Study in Contrasts

As neighboring states in the Midwest, Wisconsin and Minnesota have more in common than they do differences. Yet the two states took very different approaches to implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, and have achieved very different results.

Paying More to Cover Fewer People

86million_preventive_small.jpgA key component of the ACA is the opportunity to receive additional funding from the federal government to strengthen our safety net program, BadgerCare, by filling the gaps in coverage. In fact, the federal government offered 100% of the funding needed to fill the coverage gap for the first three years and at least 90% in subsequent years. In February, our governor announced he would reject the ACA's recommended path to pursue his own Medicaid plan, which will cost the state more taxpayer money to cover fewer Wisconsinites.

The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee (JFC) had an opportunity to set Wisconsin back on the right track when it took up this portion of the state budget on June 4, 2013. Instead, they approved most of the governor's plan in a 12-4 vote. Senate Democrats introduced several amendments on the floor to the 2013-15 state budget pertaining to Medicaid funding including an amendment to accept the full Medicaid expansion funding. This amendment was rejected by the Republican majority.

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Special Election for Wisconsin Assembly District 21

map of AD-21The 21st Assembly District in Wisconsin (see the map on the left) experienced a sudden job opening when Republican Mark Honadel resigned to take up more lucrative work in the private sector (perhaps working for the mining industry). Republicans will hold a primary in October. Democrats have a great opportunity to pick up an assembly seat: Democrat Elizabeth Coppola from South Milwaukee, who currently serves on the Milwaukee County Development Commission, is on the ballot in the November 19 special election.

This district voted for President Obama in 2008 but flipped to Mitt Romney by 51%-48%. It's a very "swingy" district and Dems have a very good chance to pick up this seat if progressives pitch in to help Ms. Coppola. Visit her campaign's FaceBook page to get to know her and to find out more about her campaign.

You can also find out more about the district as well the Republicans vying to run against Ms. Coppola in this blog post on Daily Kos.

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Fighting for Voting Rights for Everyone


The League of Women Voters is supporting and joining the 50th Anniversary March on Washington on August 24, 2013, organized by the National Action Network. Nothing could be more important to progressives everywhere, to Wisconsin, and to the nation. Please show your support by taking action. Even if you can't be in DC this Saturday, you can make your voice heard by writing to members of Congress and by supporting the work of the League of Women Voters nationally and in Milwaukee County.

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