Good News From Four States–and Some Fun From a “Veep-to-Veep” Meeting

We’ll begin with our “Veep-to-Veep” Fun.

Please click to see how the delightful Julia Louis Dreyfus, star of the Veep TV series, reacted when President Biden presented her with a National Medal of Arts.

With “woe are we” the sentiment too often felt and expressed in the US these days, I’m pleased to provide signs of progress. In each state, these inroads respond to the will of the majority of voters, which means that although they are legitimately described as victories for Democrats, they may also legitimately be described as victories for small d democracy.


I’m sure you’ve heard about this big win for a majority seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which has nationwide implications. Judge Janet Protasiewicz resoundingly defeated former state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly (who’d been appointed by then-Governor Scott Walker in 2010 but defeated when he first ran for election to the court in 2020).

As Wisconsin has a 50-50 electorate, Protasiewicz’s eleven point win was a remarkable voter confirmation.

The “rigged” electoral map was a major issue. Since 2011, heavily gerrymandered maps have kept Democrats from gaining the representation they would have obtained in the state legislature if electoral districts had been fairly drawn. Last year, the Wisconsin Supreme Court again approved maps giving Republicans outsized control.

The “rigged” map had multiple prongs that energized voters. In the 2020 election, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, by a 4-3 majority, voted to reject Trump’s efforts to throw out more than 220,000 votes. Wisconsin Republican Party officials, advised by Dan Kelly, had a group of fake electors ready to contest Biden’s win in the state. So that single vote on the court could have upended our national election then–and it might done so in 2024. Kelly’s vote would have been decisive.

Ali Alexander, who was a prime organizer of the January 6th rally preceding the Insurrection, tweeted:

“We just lost the Wisconsin Supreme Court. I do not see a path to 270 in 2024…”

In addition to the gerrymandered maps and voting rights, the other winning issue was abortion. Wisconsin has an 1849 law that bans abortion except when the mother’s life is in danger, and the state legislature had passed a series of anti-abortion laws over the years.

Protasiewicz was open about her views on “rigged” maps, democracy, and abortion. Though I do not like the practice of electing judges, we have seen on the US Supreme Court how politicized the judiciary has become.

Specifically, the hypocrisy exhibited by the most recent Justices, who claimed in their confirmation hearings that Roe v Wade was a precedent and then struck it down once they were enrobed, shows that appointments to judicial positions certainly do not diminish the politicization.


A Salon article by Dennis Aftergut, a former federal prosecutor who serves of counsel to Lawyers Defending American Democracy bore the title: “Michigan offers real hope — and a roadmap back to democracy and common sense.”

In Michigan, government has been working the way the majority of voters have sought. In contrast to states in which gerrymandering has led to legislatures that are enacting extreme laws that shift power to the minority, Michigan was guided in 2018 by a bipartisan redistricting commission. Numerous public hearings and options for public input were part of the process.

Result: Last November, Michigan Democrats won “the trifecta”—the governorship, and majorities in both houses of the state legislature. The 2022 election marked the first time in forty years that has happened.

The four years since saw ballot initiatives that were popular with voters and increased turnout.

And the result of that trifecta?

–The State legislators passed a package of eight gun safety bills on March 22.
–They adopted a repeal of a state abortion ban that dated back to 1931.
–They passed legislation protecting the rights of LGBTQ citizens, which Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed on March 19.
–They’re working on legislation to expand election protections via automatic voter registration, greater access to early voting, criminal sanctions against those who harass election workers, and reinstatement of ex-felons’ voting rights.

Of particular significance, on that busy March 22 day, Michigan legislators voted to repeal the state’s anti-union “right to work” law, which was passed in 2012, thereby boosting the collective bargaining rights of the state’s workers.

Aftergut points out that “Once signed by Whitmer, the bill would signal a historic turnaround, making Michigan the first state in nearly 60 years to rescind such an anti-union law.”

As President Biden often says, “The middle class built America, and unions built the middle class.”

All of these accomplishments, Aftergut writes, were the result of Democrats’ securing citizen initiatives on the ballot—and then working to pass them. Both abortion and voting rights are hot-button issues that enhanced voter turnout.

High-quality candidates were important too. Governor Whitmer, a gritty woman who escaped right-wing plots to kidnap and possibly kill her, has become extremely popular. “Whitmer had gained a national profile during the Trump presidency and the COVID pandemic,” notes Aftergut. (Her name has already been bandied about as a future Democratic Presidential candidate.)

Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who also withstood death threats, gained similar national prominence for their strong defense of voting rights.

In contrast, the Republicans named right-wing extremist candidates whom the voters resoundingly rejected. One of them, secretary of state nominee Kristina Karamo, is now the head of the state Republican Party. “Despite the dangers of the Big Lie,” Aftergut writes, “the electoral gift of election denialism may keep on giving.”

His conclusion:

“The point is this: Since bad news never takes time off, it’s crucial to make full use of the silver linings that accompany clouds.

“Michigan citizens who believe in good government and progressive policy did exactly that. Not content to lament decades of conservative government control, they dried their eyes, organized and fought. Now they are reaping real benefits.”


Marc Elias’s Democracy Docket reports on a Pennsylvania court ruling that prevents Republicans’ attempts to enshrine into law the capability to throw out citizens’ mail-in ballots because of minor errors.

All the usual political suspects—from the Republican National Committee on down—filed a lawsuit last September, just prior to the midterm elections, to prevent county boards of elections from drawing up and enacting “cure” procedures that notify voters they’ve made a minor mistake on their mail-in ballots and providing them with the opportunity to correct it.

A Commonwealth Court judge had denied the Republicans’ request for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented curing during the election, which was then just weeks ahead. The Republicans appealed to the state Supreme Court, who affirmed the lower court’s ruling on October 21. In fact, it was a 3-3 decision, but according to Pennsylvania law, a tie vote sides with the lower court. As a result, voters were able to cure their ballots during the midterm election.

The case then went back to the Commonwealth Court, which issued its final ruling on March 23 (last week). That court dismissed the Republicans’ claims and, Democracy Docket reports,

“Pennsylvania counties will be permitted to carry out their current cure procedure policies.”


Also from Democracy Docket came a look at strengthened state voting rights legislation.

Caroline Sullivan wrote on March 22 that:

“New Mexico will become the first state to enact an omnibus pro-voting law—House Bill 4—in the 2023 legislative session.”

On March 30, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed that bill into law.

This package of bills didn’t make it last year, but the proponents pushed ahead. What made the difference? Like Michigan, New Mexico now has a “trifecta”: Democrats hold the governorship and both houses of the state legislature.

Here’s what the new legislation includes:

—Restoration of voting rights to more than 11,000 formerly incarcerated New Mexico citizens. Before this bill passed, people convicted of a felony couldn’t vote until they’d completed parole and probation. Now those on parole or probation can vote. The bill also informs them about voter registration as part of their process of reentering society post-prison.

Justin Allen, one of the grass-roots organizers who pushed for this legislation said:

“When people have a sense of belonging and connection to their communities, they’re less likely to repeat mistakes that put them in prison in the first place. We feel that civic engagement is critical to reducing recidivism.”

—Automatic voter registration: When voters have business with specific state/local agencies, such as the Motor Vehicle Division, they’ll automatically be registered to vote. They do, however, have the right to opt out at a later date.

New Mexico now joins 22 other states and the District of Columbia that have implemented this system. In addition, automatic voter registration can be conducted by an Indian nation or tribe  or the state’s human services division.

—Permanent absentee ballot list: voters who opt in will receive an absentee ballot before each state election (unless they subsequently opt out).

—Expanded availability of drop boxes: each county gets at least two “monitored and secured” boxes; county clerks can ask for more

—Native American Voting Rights Act: this is a detailed subsection of the new legislation that ensures Native Americans’ rights are specifically protected under the state election code, giving tribal leaders greater flexibility to meet various timelines and decision-making with regard to polling places on tribal lands.

Isn’t it nice to know there are states in the United States that are actually making it easier for citizens to vote?

On April 2, the indefatigable Marc Elias tweeted this declaration:

I’ll chalk up that assertion as another bit of good news!

The bottom line in this good news from the states is that in each instance, active citizens–persisting against seemingly overwhelming odds–made solid, significant, democratic gains.


21 thoughts on “Good News From Four States–and Some Fun From a “Veep-to-Veep” Meeting

  1. Always nice to empathize good news. Here’s hoping for more of the same—including news that the former guy is no longer able to commit crime after crime, including attempts to overturn an election and inciting a riot during which several people were killed, without facing any consequences.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. all the death threats they and family members are receiving

        That’s a genuine concern, and the people making those threats need to be identified and prosecuted. However, it only takes a small number of people to generate a lot of threats. It doesn’t change the fact that large-scale violent reactions akin to January 6 are not materializing.

        Serious fighters for a cause take to the streets. Death threats are what cowards do.


    1. As to Trump being able to incite riots, there was very little protesting after his indictment and arrest, despite his histrionic calls for violence. There’s been little mention of it on right-wing blogs I read, despite wingnut “news” sites like Gateway Pundit desperately playing up the story and trying to whip up outrage. At his Waco rally, people started walking out within thirty minutes after it started.

      Trump is just an exhausting person, even if you’re on his side. I suspect even a lot of his followers are getting more fed up with him than they’re willing to tell the pollsters. They’ve seen the arrests and prosecutions of the January 6 insurrectionists, and they’re evidently not willing to stick their necks out for his sake any more.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The Orange turnip is a salesman. A cosmetics salesman. Prior to Jan 6 only progressives we seen as “violent” protesters facing police and arrest. IMO had he gone to jail with them there would have been violence this time as well. Him going home dejected when they went to DC jail and stayed, while their homes went back to the bank was not good for selling violence against authority. Especially when people think you are the authority. Like Dr. No you have to know your product and try not to get buried under it. He got high on his own supply and paid the price such action always bring. If you can have the faith that ALL are pragmatic the hope will bring about the faith that all will be OK. There are no “bad” dogs only “bad” managers. Peacebecarefullwhatyouwishfor


      2. Glad to hear there’s been little mention of Trump’s calls to violence on right-wing sites you’re familiar with, Infidel. At his NY arraignment, his supporters were outnumbered by press and opponents, some carrying “Lock Him Up!” signs. I hope he saw those. And may Trump Fatigue grow apace with indictments and convictions.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. There is, however, the fact that the NY prosecutor, judge, and others are receiving beefed up security due to all the death threats they and family members are receiving since Trump has been making his provocative remarks.


  2. Spring! Amanda Marcotte is sharing your optimism with her blog as well.
    “The first blooms of spring always make my heart sing.” S. Brown

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the link, Jill. I just left a comment on your post. I truly believe the American majority is reaching the point where citizen activism seems essential to protect children from death in their classrooms, women and families’ health from enforced childbearing, our rights to representation by the people voters elect, and democracy for us all. The Tennessee legislators opened a Pandora’s box—and those two inspiring young Black leaders are going to go far in reclaiming/advancing our fragile democracy. They’ll get a boost from a right wing Texas judge who gives the lie to the Supreme Court majority’s claim after Dobbs that they were sending the issue of abortion back to the states.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope you’re right, Annie. I keep hearing from people that I shouldn’t worry, that “things always work out in the long run.” And I wonder if that’s what the people of Germany said amongst themselves in the 1930s? It makes me want to shake them awake … things will only get better if we all do whatever we can to make them get better! But yes, between this, the Clarence Thomas scandal, and the Tennessee lawmakers who were ousted for supporting a gun control rally, people DO seem to be waking up just a bit. I hope it will be enough.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Not so small, I think, rawgod. Once the Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds challenges to the electoral map and rejects the abortion ban, it won’t be long til that state’s people assert themselves even more. I see these states as bellwethers. With the gun and abortion issues, white Americans are getting a taste of what people of color must put up with—though it’s still far worse for the latter, of course.

      The backlash will continue, but I truly believe there’s no going back. Thanks for your comment.


      1. I used the word “small” because no matter how we feel, there are too many people trying to hide the lights, hoping they can “hide them under a bushel,” whatever that is. (Please note the reverse psychology. Evangelical Christians are spreading darkness, not light!)
        Yes, we have to savour our victories, but we have a long way to go to save democracy and freedom. The fight will be long and hard. But once advancing, we cannot allow any retreat. The enemy is persistent!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s