I’ve had some pretty harsh things to say about Republicans on this blog over the last few years. Mostly I’ve been distressed by their apparently willful ignorance of plain facts and/or their pandering to the most uninformed, prejudiced, and superstitious among us. But as the 2012 election season comes (thankfully!) to a negative-ad-encrusted close, it is refreshing to see comments such as the following from Republican State Senator Mike Ellis in today’s Oshkosh Northwestern-
State Sen. Mike Ellis, R-Neenah, said partisanship in the Legislature stems from campaign money. “The interest groups have their tentacles over the Democrats. They have their tentacles over the Republicans,” he said.
Ellis, 71, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1970, said he raised about $55,000 for his 1982 state Senate campaign – all from his district. “There were no third-party (groups), there were none of those so-called issue ads back then,” he said. Ellis said today, millions of dollars have taken over the independence of the candidates. “They are deciding what the issues are and they are painting, in a negative way, what the message is, and that is a crime against our democracy,” he said.
Ellis said the 2010 Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that government couldn’t restrict political expenditures of unions and corporations, has resulted in groups inundating airwaves with false and anonymous messages. “The Supreme Court,” Ellis said, “has put a dagger right through the basic principal of a democracy, that elected people should be accountable to their constituents, not national, multi-state special interest groups … who will be back three months from now demanding that you vote for a piece of crap because they got you elected.”
I haven’t looked at Ellis’s voting record, and I’m guessing that I would disagree with him about a great many economic and social issues. But in the spirit of bipartisan compromise, which will be more necessary than ever after November 6th, kudos to Senator Ellis for expressing at least implicit agreement with President Obama on a prime cause of our current political malaise.