Mr. Cope’s Cave: Hey Diogenes, I Got a Guy For You!

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I have to tell you about something that happened last week in Wisconsin, but before I do, I have to say I was beginning to think I’d never live long enough to see anything like it happen, ever again. When I read about it, I think I felt the earth move under my feet. No kidding, I felt the sky tumblin’ down, my head start to tremblin’.

So just to be on the safe side, when you read what I am about to tell you, maybe you should be sitting down.

OK, consider yourself warned. Let’s take a break here while you find yourself to a chair.

(Tall and tan and young and lovely... the girl from Ipanema goes walking. And when she passes, each one she passes goes...)

OK, ready? And what is it that so shook my world?

There has come word over the Internet of a Republican politician who actually told the truth about something!

Wow! Huh? What next? A unicorn?

And listen, I’m not talking about how Republicans usually get caught telling the truth. You know... on a hidden camera or cellphone when they thought no one but their cronies and cohorts were listening.

No, this guy came right out and told it, just like a regular person would. And then, when attacked by his (former) cronies and cohorts for telling the truth, he has refused to back down.

His name is Dale Schultz and he’s a state senator in the Wisconsin Legislature. Or will be, until he is replaced in November’s election. He has chosen not to run again, but were he running, after what he’s done, it’s entirely likely he would be replaced by some floating hunk of Tea Party gunk in a primary, as the truth is not a thing the modern Republican Party is willing to either tolerate or encourage.

The mighty deed occurred as Schultz was being interviewed on a Madison radio program about why his (former) cronies and cohorts had rammed through yet another voter suppression bill, and why he was the only Republican in the assembly to vote against that bill. Schultz said, “I am not willing to defend them anymore. ... I am embarrassed by this.”

The particular bill in question will further limit early voting opportunities across Wisconsin, and is only one of many that the state’s GOP has seen fit to pass this year. I realize I’m not telling you anything new here, but it fits a pattern that Republicans from Florida to Ohio, from Texas to Idaho—in short, every state with the misfortune to be controlled by Republican legislatures and governors—that, as everyone knows but Republicans are too dishonest to admit, would discourage the votes of minorities, students, the elderly and working men and women who often have a struggle getting to the polls within a narrow time frame.

The standard Republican excuse for these attacks on democracy is inevitably that the new laws are meant to stop an epidemic of voter fraud, and the standard Republican will not back away from that excuse even when it is proven over and over and over that there is no epidemic of voter fraud.

But Mr. Schultz is not your standard Republican. Said he, “I began this session thinking that there was some lack of faith in our voting process and we maybe needed to address it. But I have come to the conclusion this is far less noble.”

I want to tell you every word of Schultz’s I could find from that interview, because I suspect we will never hear the likes of it again. Not from a Republican, at least.

“It’s just, I think, sad when a political party, my political party, has so lost faith in its ideas that it’s pouring all of its energy into election mechanics. And again, I’m a guy who understands and appreciates what we should be doing in order to make sure every vote counts, every vote is legitimate. But the fact is, it ought to be abundantly clear to everybody in this state that there is no massive voter fraud. The only thing that we do have in this state is we have long lines of people who want to vote. And it seems to me that we should be doing everything we can to make it easier, to help these people get their vote counted. And that we should be pitching as political parties our ideas for improving things in the future, rather than mucking around in the mechanics and making it more confrontational at the voting sites and trying to suppress the vote.”

Schultz confessed further that the voter suppression was “just plain wrong,” and that, “It was predicated on some belief there is a massive fraud or irregularities, something my colleagues have been hot on the trail of for three years and have failed miserably at demonstrating.”

So, my fellow Americans, are you as stunned as I am? An honest Republican... who’d a thunk it. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if down in the ALEC legislation laboratory, there’s already some sort of “conscience-gag” bill in the works, designed to nip this thing in the bud before any other Republicans decide to jump ship and turn decent.

We need to find a way to thank Mr. Dale Schultz for the service he’s performed for this country. And I’d like to be the first to invite him to join an organization which actually encourages people to vote—an organization which operates under the principle that the more Americans there are who express their right to vote, the better America is—the Democratic Party