The Wisconsin Uprising is bigger than any candidate--and so is the election to replace Scott Walker.
Writing an ending
There are multiple theories about the Wisconsin uprising. Some thought giving tax breaks to corporations and then balancing the budget on the backs of public employees was terribly unfair and was the spark. Some thought it was strictly a public sector union issue. Many thought that cutting education by a billion dollars would destroy the best public education system in the country.
No one can say for certain but tens of thousands got involved and kept their eyes on the prize. The prize was recalling the governor and toppling the majority in the Legislature. Had the group broken off into small factions, the effort would have died. Those who marched, sang, and stood outside in freezing temperatures will never be the same. They will be telling grandchildren about the uprising — the year democracy was reborn in Wisconsin.
That was the easy part. Now comes the hard part. The success or failure of the uprising turns on solidarity in the ranks. After June 5, Scott Walker will be finished as a national leader of the right-wing tea party or he will become a hero to the Koch brothers. The stories told to your grandchildren decades from now will end on a high note or you will be forced to explain how we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. There is an old saying that "victory has many fathers but failure is an orphan." Let us decide right now that the uprising is alive and well.
At this moment, four Democrats are running for governor. There is no time for jockeying for position, raising lots of money, traveling to every nook and cranny of this state. There is certainly no time to attack each other. Within minutes of the announcement from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett that he was running, the GOP fired a few shots right into Barrett's backyard: "Tom Barrett is a failed leader; he doesn't get it — the people don't like him!" State Senator Kathleen Vinehout and Secretary of State Doug La Follette will get the back-of-the-hand treatment from the newspapers and the pundits. Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk will be called all kinds of things by the GOP.
Walker has more than $12 million in his war chest; all four Democrats combined will not get close. So common sense tells us that if the Democrat is going to win, it will be the result of grass-roots voters going door to door. Most of the GOP attacks will go without a response. The Democrat won't have the necessary funds to respond.
If Democrats attack each other in the primary, Walker will be re-elected. What voters want is a positive vision for our state after June 5. They want better schools, fair taxation, health care for all; they want high-speed rail, technical schools working to educate not just train; they want lower tuition and good jobs. Oh, yes, and they want the right to engage in collective bargaining.
But you watch — the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and others will repeat ad nauseam that collective bargaining is the be-all and end-all of this recall. It is important but so is health care, so are disabled citizens, so is a good college education. Any Democrat who causes a Walker victory by engaging in negative campaigning out of selfish desires to win does not deserve to be elected. This movement is bigger than any candidate running. It is all about the future. This is our challenge — let's finish the job!
(A version of this article originally appeared in the opinion section of the Capital Times.)
April 5, 2012
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Ed Garvey is editor and publisher of FightingBob.com.