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Have I Been Duped Over Wisconsin Recall Elections?

July 27, 2011

Why do I feel duped over the Wisconsin recall elections?

As many readers know I was appalled (like many) over the actions taken by Governor Scott Walker and the Republican members of the Wisconsin Legislature earlier this year when they worked feverishly to end collective bargaining.    Not only was the policy a direct slap at union history and public employees, but the actions that were undertaken showed an uttter disregard for the political process in Wisconsin.

It was after watching weeks of this play out that I came to the conclusion that recall elections would be a most appropriate avenue to remedy the problems.

It was a step for me to come to that conclusion as recalls are not the way I think government should operate. 

In 1996 I was opposed to the recall effort of Sen. George Petak of Racine after his vote in favor of the Milwaukee Brewers stadium-funding sales tax.  No, my opposition was not due to being a liberal who loves taxes, but instead over my feelings that recalls should not occur over just any issue that voters disagree with.  Recalls should be used only for the most serious of misconduct in office.  All other issues can be registered at the election polls every two years.

But what happened this year under the dome in Madison was different.

Wisconsin Republicans never advertised the idea of removing collective bargaining in the 2010 election,  but did work in concert with national efforts once elected to harm state workers and citizens.  In addition, Republicans flouted the political process to such an extent, and so egregiously that the matter was settled in court.   

This all became worthy of recall efforts around the state, which I very much agreed with.

So now we are in the midst of the recalls and I am left wondering where is the concern over the actual issue that led us to this point.  Where are those candidates that seemed intent on making an issue of the process that was undermined, or making it clear that state workers should not be used as pawns in an over-hyped and falsely created budget crisis?

Instead of talking about the reason we are having the recall over collective bargaining, ads are being run continuously against Republicans (such as Luther Olsen) that challenge his concern for education, and his vote in favor of the state budget.

Problem is that those are not the issues that generated the recall efforts, but instead are the type of fodder for the next general election in 2012.   I think some honesty about what brought voters to this recall dance might be in order.

I can be as partisan as anyone, but I also like the game of politics to be played with some reasonableness.  Had I known that not a word would seemingly appear about the collective bargaining issue in the Democratic campaigns this summer I never would have supported a recall effort.

All of the concerns that Democrats seem intent on talking about these past weeks are ones that should have been left for the 2012 elections.    Which leaves me with the unanswerable question.

Why are Democrats so unable to talk and campaign over the very reason hundreds of thousands marched in Madison in cold and snow in an effort to defend collective bargaining?  If candidates can not mention the words or advertise about the issue now, how can we be sure they can utter the words if elected?

I am not interested in being duped twice.

  1. Tony permalink
    August 8, 2011 5:00 PM

    Another misguided want to “feel” good about himself progressive that can’t add or isn’t accountable. It’s unfortunate but the unions have infected good hard working Americans in the heartland of our country with thier poison. I guess all those public servants can’t read the papers or haven’t heard the news. We’re financially broke! Why, too much out and not enough in. More “free” programs but progressives never consider where the money comes from. More disturbing is how our dependence on government has made a large segment of our society completely unproductive. Unions have a large part to play in that fact. Thanks republicans for acting like adults, while the dems were out of state I might add, and dealing with the adult conversations dealing with an incredible budget issue. Shame on the unions and the public servants that are acting like their kids.

  2. Anthony permalink
    August 1, 2011 6:57 PM

    All you Liberals have been duped. Besides collective bargaining is not a right so it shouldn’t have to be advertised. Scott Walker did say he would balance the budget it’s to bad the Liberal JS paper never asked how…..

  3. July 29, 2011 8:14 AM

    Watch for thousands and thousands of Minnesota Republicans voting in the Wisconsin Recall elections.

  4. grumps permalink
    July 28, 2011 4:02 PM

    Don’t confuse the strategy with the tactics.

  5. Patrick permalink
    July 28, 2011 12:15 PM

    There are two points to be made here. The first is that the national unions and the Obama people are funding the recall efforts like national business groups and such are funding the opposition. Every day I get two or three beautiful full-color 8 by 11 “postcards” about how Sandy P. likes to devour little babies or how Darling wants to close down public education and send children to the salt mines. One thing is true–these people care about the 2012 elections; they don’t give a crap about Wisconsin. Does anyone really think team Obama is in this battleground state to support some teacher who has to pay more for health care?

    Secondly, about two weeks ago I was visited at home by a friendly WEAC recruitment team. In our interesting and lengthy conversation they noted that the union was prepared to offer the concessions Act 10 demanded. If so, why were they needed? After such a huge financial hit–which they apparently supported–what was there left to talk about? And If so, why hadn’t milwaukee teachers reopened that contract to save the jobs of hundreds of new teachers? I was confused. I was left with the thought that WEAC didn’t realize that times have changed and that they needed to change, too. The point is that the candidates and the national organizations recognize that Act 10–while unpleasant and painful for teachers and other workers, as I am–was largely successful. What could they say? Nobody swallow tax increases.

  6. joey permalink
    July 28, 2011 8:19 AM

    The labor movement needs to be reorganized – yes, collective bargaining is critical, but REAL solidarity is even more so.

    Unions have a racist history, essentially non-existent in the private sector, and today only further divide workers. It is laughable how some proclaims “but everyone else benefits too!” in today’s economy.

    Unions have some culpability in this situation – they lack widespread public support. Whether this is due to misunderstandings or whether the public does not accept that only a limited elite of government workers has representation does not matter.

    Running on repealing collective bargaining would be a disaster – the majority of voters don’t have a direct reason to support it.

    HOWEVER, if we use this as an opportunity to reorganize and re-energize the labor movement, then this could end up being worthwhile.

  7. Doug permalink
    July 27, 2011 11:17 PM

    It’s true that collective bargaining was the issue that triggered the massive protests. However, we have since figured out an even a broader assault on Wisconsin is taking place. From cuts to education, tax breaks for huge corporations while reducing tax credits for the poor, a voter ID bill intended to discourage voters, a rushed redistricting plan, and on and on. Not to mention a complete lack of respect for the political process in general and a complete disregard for the protesting citizens. When you see behind the scenes and learn about ALEC and the bigger agenda that the GOP is trying to put in place without a thought about whether it’s actually good for Wisconsin, a bigger picture emerges of which collective bargaining is only a part of. It is an important part, to be sure. and so is the attack on unions. But what offends me just as much is that the GOP is spending a tremendous amount of energy and money trying to hurt the opposing party rather than trying to help the people of Wisconsin. Too many of the articles I read characterize the recalls as being about collective bargaining and mention nothing else. These recalls are not about a single issue! It seems as though the collective bargaining issue has gotten plenty of press already – we all know that it is a big part of the recalls. I’m glad that the Dems are bringing other issues to the table and would welcome an even broader list.

    I’m not worried in the least that the collective bargaining issue will somehow be forgotten or lost in the process and I don’t need to hear the candidates talk about it. It is etched in my mind forever.

  8. Annie K. permalink
    July 27, 2011 9:58 PM

    Really excellent points. I should have noticed this, but did not. I only had a vague sense of distaste.
    Of course I can only guess at what is going on in the “decision-maker’s” minds, but my own prejudice would be that these people (high-placed Dems and the strategists they hire) are incapable of change and will – as the saying goes – keep doing things in the exact same ways they have always done, and yet expect different results.
    I also support the current recalls only because of the complete disregard for Process, Honesty and the level to which us “lay-people” can conclude that our laws have been flaunted by the lawmakers. Otherwise, it’s all B.S.

    Knee-jerk recalls over “wrong votes” will only alienate voters over time. Then of course lawmakers will defensively move to remove recalls from the books, along with Advisory Referenda (or all referenda), which are also being abused and used as publicity stunts IMO. Then, none of those will be available as options when really needed.
    Short-term gains and long-term losses, as always these days.
    Obviously, a lot of professional politicians (I include the pundits, lobbyists, graph-makers, call-takers, and other removed-from-the-people board-game players) stand to keep making A LOT of money by having constant campaigning, constant conflict, and problem-creation as opposed to problem-solving.
    It must be working for them.

  9. amigay permalink
    July 27, 2011 9:35 PM

    You go to war with the ammunition you have and in war there is no moral high ground. We Progressives MUST understand that politics to the Regressives is a blood sport and we have to stop tryng to be ‘Mr Nice Guy.’ You want some honesty? Have your Regressive Representatives been honest with you?

  10. Sue permalink
    July 27, 2011 9:23 PM

    That’s a very good point which I hadn’t considered. You’re right, I haven’t seen a single Pasch/Darling ad noting union busting. Nothing from either of them.
    Although I am a public employee and was happy to see all the protests against the destruction of public unions, I have to say I was very unhappy to see so little emphasis on the devastation wreaked on poor people. I wish there were public protests then and strong ads now against what’s been done to the earned income credit and homestead credit (not sure if I’ve got the names of these programs right), and health care and all the other things that are going to throw people out of their homes and in some cases help them along to an early grave.
    So I understand where you’re coming from but from my perspective I’ve been a little unhappy from the start that an entire section of the population has been ignored, then and now.

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