The defining reason behind Scott Walker’s recall election
Waukesha Political Buzz Examiner
With just over a week remaining until Wisconsin residents cast their votes in a historic gubernatorial recall election, it seems that many people have forgotten what the June 5 ballot pitting incumbent Scott Walker against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is truly about.
At times, both supporters and detractors of Walker have said it is an election about job creation. The Governor has indeed spent much of his time in office repeating his goal to put 250,000 new jobs in the state during his term. However, monthly job creation surveys have been absolutely abysmal under Walker thus far. In fact, the employment numbers were so grisly (putting Wisconsin last in the nation for job creation between March 2011 and March 2012) that Walker momentarily abandoned the topic during his recall campaign.
However, the Governor is now back on that talking point, citing recent numbers from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages that show the state gained around 23,000 jobs in 2011 rather than losing almost 34,000. However, these numbers have not yet been verified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and as such, true job creation numbers under Walker are still a contentious point leading into June.
Tens of thousands protest at the Madison Capitol in 2011
But this recall election is not really about job creation.
At times, proponents of the recall have framed the election around an ongoing John Doe investigation involving people who worked directly underneath or with Walker when he was Milwaukee County Executive. The offenses being investigated range from embezzlement of money slated for Wisconsin veterans and their families to the construction of a separate e-mail network in county offices so employees could campaign for Walker on work time. It is not yet known if the investigation has touched Walker, but the Governor has since transferred $60,000 of campaign money to a legal defense fund and refuses to give a reason for this when asked by the press. It is worth noting that Wisconsin statutes only allow government officials to put money toward such a fund if they are being investigated or charged with a violation of either campaign finance or other election laws.
So, it does appear as if the John Doe investigation involves the Governor in some capacity. But this recall election is not really about the John Doe investigation either.
Without a doubt, conversations about the desire for Walker’s recall must come full circle to the issue that actually set the public outcry against him aflame, his partisan passage of Act 10 – legislation that not only requires public union members to pay more toward their health insurance and pensions, but ultimately destroys public unions by outlawing collective bargaining and requiring a member re-certification vote every year.
This full-scale neutering of public unions is a large part of the reason Scott Walker is now facing a recall election. Yet, believe it or not, the near-immediate loss in take-home pay and imminent deterioration of working conditions for almost 150,000 public employees as a result of Act 10 does not truly define the recall election efforts either.
The above issues are indictments of Walker in their own right, but they still fail to embody the one, central issue that defines the essence of why enough people in WI were sufficiently angry to organize and mobilize a recall election more than a year in the making.
Scott Walker personifies what American’s loathe in their current political system – the idea that citizens are important when courting votes but are not worth true representation thereafter; the idea that they are being used.
Scott Walker used everyone. He used public employees as scapegoats for dismal financial times. He attempted to use the state’s police and firefighters by excluding their unions from Act 10, possibly to keep their loyalty should civil unrest occur.Even staunch Republicans and people who ideologically reject the idea of public sector unions are being used by Walker, as he is forcing them to accept all of his flaws as heroism because of agreement on one issue or party affiliation.
Scott Walker took advantage of a depressed economy to push through a corporatist political agenda with legislative brothels like ALEC making sure he had shovel-ready projects waiting to welcome his first day in office.
Secrecy and surprise were the cornerstones of Walker’s efforts to immediately change the lives of public sector workers represented by unions. Despite the fact that he never explicitly campaigned on Act 10, less than two months after taking office it was his top priority, and he tried his best to push it through a partisan state congress in a matter of days.
Act 10, with all of its far reaching nuances, suddenly became the “budget repair bill,” a measure Walker decreed was absolutely necessary to balance the state’s budget and avoid financial ruin.
Walker immediately cordoned off any public or congressional debate on the matter in a conspicuously arrogant and entitled manner. He was, however, willing to discuss policy with campaign mega-donors.
In what he thought was a private conversation with billionaireDavid Koch, Walker famously referred to his introduction of Act 10 as “dropping the bomb.” Nearly a month before introducing this legislation, while speaking with his largest donor, Diane Hendricks ($500,000), Walker outlined the “divide and conquer” strategy he would use to attack public unions.
The division quickly took shape in Wisconsin.
As protests in and around the Madison Capitol raged with tens of thousands denouncing Walker’s aims and tactics, talk radio bobble-heads like Mark Belling and Vicki McKenna fired up the Republican base with tales of anarchy and destruction on the Square.
And in an economic climate still feeling the depressing effects of 2008’s housing crisis, class warfare was created. Signs about the recall began popping up, contradicting opinions being expressed up and down city blocks. YouTube videos of people from both sides of the recall issueharassing each other began to surface.
And the radio bobble heads like Belling and McKenna talked and talked until they turned “public” into a dirty prefix. Public school teachers became the new welfare queens, and the divide in Wisconsin has deepened to this day.
With his introduction and passage of Act 10, Scott Walker gave an astonishingly brazen and transparent display of a politician acting like a disingenuous and detached ruler of his serfs. At the same time, it helped to catalyze a recall petition, the one true check-and-balance power of Wisconsin citizens.
Politicians like Scott Walker make sure that constituents are relegated to polling numbers and pawns while corporations are elevated to people.
The June 5 recall election will give ordinary citizens of Wisconsin a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make rather than take the results of a political power play. It is a referendum on how elected officials utilize the powers granted them. It is a referendum on the types of people who run for office and what truly motivates them.
In the end, Wisconsin’s recall election is a referendum on how much value voters put on themselves. Are they willing to be used as political pawns, or will they call checkmate on the Governor?
- Scott Walker Wins First Debate Of Recall Election (dekerivers.wordpress.com)
- Walker, Barrett spar in Friday debate (channel3000.com)
- Scott Walker Fends Off the Cynical Tom Barrett During Their First Debate (independentsentinel.com)
- “Has recall election made Scott Walker a GOP hero?” (althouse.blogspot.com)
- The Most Important Story of the Week (dianeravitch.net)
- Scott Walker’s Lead Growing In Wisconsin Recall (thedaleygator.wordpress.com)
- Scott Walker Will Survive Wisconsin Recall: Reason-Rupe Poll Results (reason.com)
- Wis. recall leaders struggle to gain momentum (sacbee.com)
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel endorses Scott Walker in the recall election. (althouse.blogspot.com)
- Scott Walker Gets Big Endorsement (huffingtonpost.com)