Painful though it may be to see and hear Scott Walker, now is not the time to let up.
The Walker recall failed. Long live the recall!
Although the tea party rock star admonished his followers to be nice during his victory lap Tuesday night, you can be sure that Scott Walker’s immediate intentions include undoing the right to vote our elected employees out of office through legal recall elections like the heroic effort leading to June 5. Walker said that was his plan in the days before the election.
Progressives must be prepared to keep the pressure on their legislators in order to slow Walker’s agenda which has so riven the state of Wisconsin during the governor’s first year-and-a-half in office.
Since the takeover we’ve watched Walker, an uncompromising right-wing ideologue, sweep aside unions for public employees, education aid, health care, women’s rights, public transit, environmental standards, tax fairness, voting rights, principles of public institutions… All this in the name of farcical results in the “job creation” category and while sucking up to mostly out-of-state billionaire puppeteers who rolled out barrels of money for Walker’s attack on Wisconsin’s progressive foundation.
If not for the saving presence of Matt Rothschild, editor of The Progressive, I might have followed the example of the late Utah Phillips and taken the TV set into the back yard for a summary execution with a shotgun while watching the recall election programing on WISC-TV Tuesday night.
Among notable oddities during the broadcast were its pairing with Fox News and the way that Brandon Scholz’s on-screen title migrated during the evening. Rothschild and Scholz were uneasily paired as commentators for the evening.
Scholz was initially identified as president of the Wisconsin Grocers Association, which he is. By the evening’s end, Scholz was labeled a “Republican strategist.”
Rothschild deported himself admirably in the face of Scholz’s hostility. But it probably took a toll. The next day, Rothschild wrote on progressive.org: “Tuesday night was a brutal, brutal night for progressives in Wisconsin.” The editor went on to list some reasons Walker won. Money. The Democratic National Committee and White House went AWOL. Recall was unpopular. Walker (“…much as I can’t stand the man,” Rothschild wrote) was a strong candidate.
If voters bothered to read news stories just preceding the election, they’d have noticed that Wisconsin’s welfare system is being sold out by the Walker administration to private providers, and that university tuition is about to increase 5.5 percent for in-state students to more than $10,000 a year. You may recall (same word, different meaning) that Walker cut $250 million and recalled (there it is again) an additional $66 million from the UW system over two years.
Rothschild’s correct in calling Walker a strong candidate. “He [Walker] said two plus two equals five with a straight face and basset eyes,” the editor wrote.
So true, and so difficult to overlook even as Walker gives lip service to “process” as a learning experience, and a wish to work with his opponents.
There’s nothing in Walker’s record to compel trust among progressives, even though he repeatedly assured us of his integrity stemming from days as an Eagle Scout. Walker’s war on workers, costly both in money and morale, came out of the blue unannounced after his first campaign for governor.
Then there are the creepy possibilities stemming from the John Doe investigation in which Walker has invested $160,000 for legal defense.
I didn’t wish to bother Rothschild too much, but I asked him for a thought or two the morning after.
In an email, Rothschild said, “Walker’s talk of bipartisanship was a bunch of bunk. Yeah, he’ll have the Democrats over for brats and beer, but he’ll be cramming the brats down their throats and pouring the beer on their heads.
“Look for him (Walker) to initiate a constitutional amendment to do away with recalls,” said Rothschild. “(By the way with the exception of Russ Feingold, the Barrett campaign never squarely addressed the people’s unease with recalls). And I agree with what Barrett said in one of the debates: Walker will sign right-to-work legislation in the next two years,” Rothschild concluded.
Starting now, progressives should keep a list of must-do items. Fighting Walker’s agenda-to-come is item number one.
June 7, 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."