Everybody has a feeling about the outcome of the gubernatorial recall election, but what happens after June 5 is crucial.
All recall, all the time
A new idiosyncrasy of mine involves an impulse to ask absolutely everyone I meet what they think will be the result of next week’s rare opportunity for Wisconsin voters to recall Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch from their temporary employment as governor and lieutenant governor.
My behavior is probably a disquieting response to the bizarre “conclusions” trumpeted by the Marquette University Law School polls and poll director Charles Franklin. In a poll released May 30, for example, Franklin’s headcount showed Walker leading by 7 points over Tom Barrett.
The poll’s problem, however, is that 93 percent of the “likely voters” interviewed were white, and almost two-thirds were 45 or older. Is that a cross section? Is this poll skewed?
Franklin is referred to in stories about his polls as being on leave from the University of Wisconsin-Madison political science department to work as a Marquette pollster (with the support of whom?). Franklin seemed to hedge his bets a bit when he said of his latest poll, “I would encourage people to look at all of the polls and consider the sources.”
A professorial disclaimer?
However they were intended, Franklin’s misgivings about his poll encourage me to continue my personal quest to question everybody I meet about their impressions of the recall. Maybe anyone’s guess is as good as Franklin’s.
I’ve learned some important facts. For example, there are widespread independent associations, groups, organizations, and individuals going door-to-door for the recall effort. In Mount Horeb, for example, it seems that no doors are being ignored.
Over in Baraboo, an observer described what seemed to be a surprising result of canvassing. A number of voters there said they are undecided just a few days before the election. My interpretation of that is that they are strong-minded Wisconsinites who think that how they will vote is their private business and no one else’s.
During a conversation this week on WORT-FM community radio, political cartoonist Mike Konopacki discussed the recall and told me: “We could talk about the class wars. I did a cartoon that was in last week’s Capital Times. One half of it shows Jay Gould, the old [19th century] robber baron who said he could hire half the working class to kill the other half. The other half shows Scott Walker as the 21st century plutocrat saying, “If I divide and conquer I can make half the working class hate the other half.”
Konopacki said, “I think that’s what we’re experiencing with this recall election. Plutocracy is government by the rich. Walker said he could make more money in the private sector than he could as governor…”
According to the governor’s assessment, we’ll do him a favor June 5 when we recall him and send him to his beloved private sector.
Among recall backers, there’s uncertainty about the outcome. I’m with those who believe Walker will lose. I agree with the view that good judgment will prevail and voters will show that they’ve been paying attention to the excesses of Walker and his minions.
Those excesses include bold-faced declarations that the destruction wrought so far by Walker and the Fitzgeralds “is working.” Walker’s “reforms” are working, negatively, as many of us predicted they would about 16 months ago.
His prediction of a “balanced budget” will likely end in a deficit because of the decline in tax revenues thanks to Walker’s own tax cuts for the rich. Another reform that isn’t working is Walker’s 250,000-job snow job. Yet he’s cut corporate tax rates to nothing, and yanked $750 million from public workers’ pay and benefits. How can jobs be created when vast numbers of working people lose major amounts of income, or when public education funding gets cut by $1.6 billion? BadgerCare? Women’s Rights? Recycling?
“The key thing we have to remember is that once these elections are over, our organizing is going to have to continue,” cartoonist Konopacki said. “It’s fine to organize around recalls and so on, but without an infrastructure to defend the working class we are going to continue to be in serious trouble.
“Money needs to be spent on union organizing,” said Konopacki, who specializes in labor issues. “Money needs to be spent on labor education, and the labor movement in Wisconsin can’t just represent a tiny percentage of the people. We have to represent all working-class people, and I mean everyone. There are lot of poor people in this state who aren’t represented by anybody, and that’s what the labor movement should be doing.”
Konopacki is correct. The recall election will end, but the crisis isn’t over.
Wisconsin weathered the robber barons over a century ago, and set an example for the nation thereafter with progressive reforms and legislation. Now we need to do it again. June 5 is just the beginning.
June 3, 2012
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David Giffey is a freelance journalist and FightingBob.com contributing editor who lives in Arena. He is the author of "Long Shadows: Veterans’ Paths to Peace" (Atwood Publishing), "Struggle for Justice: The Migrant Farm Worker Labor Movement in Wisconsin," and "The People’s Stories of South Madison."