Walking tall in Wisconsin
By: Robert E. Meyer
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is the first governor in history to survive a recall election. Of course, that isn’t saying much when we consider how few recalls there have been. Scott Walker defeated his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by about seven points. Looking at things though my tinted conservative spectacles, it is hard to believe it wasn’t more than twice that margin. But since it was in line with the most recent pre-election voter poll, it is hard to argue that the result was a surprise.
At first, when Walker proposed curtailing collective bargaining privileges for most public employees, I thought he had traveled a bridge too far. I figured that there had to be a less confrontational way of achieving his fiscal objectives. However, when I witnessed the mob activities in the rotunda Romper Room, and heard the historical testimony from liberal icon F.D.R. and past AFL-CIO President George Meany, regarding the pitfalls of public employee collective bargaining(that it would result in citizens hating their government), my mind was made up. My verdict was thumbs down on the 60′s protest redo, the Winter Woodstock and bivouac on the hallowed grounds of Madison.
My rational in voting for Walker was elementary. Both republicans and democrats complain about the endless parade of politicians who never make the hard choices. Walker did that. By punishing him, we would only guarantee the proliferation of politics as usual, and do-nothing representatives in the foreseeable future. Walker eschewed personal popularity for what he thought needed to be done. He stuck to his guns, and didn’t relent to the pressure. Guys like that are rare assets to the political process.
For me, Walker has parallels to George W. Bush. I neither voted for, nor liked either during their respective primaries. I saw Bush as just another spoiled “fortunate son” following in daddy’s footsteps. Bush’s borrowed term “Compassionate Conservatism, ” sounded too much like an appeal to the nostalgia of the 1968 democratic platform, before the radical leftward drift made the donkey party a sanctuary for socialism. Besides, conservativism is inherently compassionate, without the need for modifiers. After I discovered the Bush policy paper on a plan to personalize Social Security, I started to take him seriously. I knew it was a courageous, yet necessary position. Likewise, Walker’s “brown bag” campaign theme looked phony to me–the posturing of a moderate in a conservative’s suit. But his actions as governor proved me wrong.
Ironically, the charge that the liberals lost the election because they were outspent, is an assertion that rings hollow. The Koch brothers can’t vote in Wisconsin. That state has been in a recall mode for nearly the entire period Walker has been in office. Most people made up their minds on this issue early, and were fixed regardless of how much money was spent. The pre-election polls shows unusually low numbers of undecided voters. This is just another effort to criticize the current U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed for more freedom in corporate contributions to political campaigns. Not only that, but remember that in 2006, when Wisconsinites voted to protect marriage, the pro-amendment forces were outspend nearly ten to one by the activists who supported expanding the definition of marriage. The unfunded group won handily.
I think the small margin of seven points was really a moral victory for liberals. Consider that Tom Barrett appears to be a decent family man, but after that he is non-descript. Barrett’s resume as Milwaukee’s Mayor is nothing flashy, and he wasn’t even the anointed candidate of public unions. Barrett was running without any agenda or plan, he was just the warm body trying to replace Walker behind the governor’s desk. Any candidate would have the prerequisite of promising to reinstitute collective bargaining–plans to fund the added expenses be damned. Add to that, Barrett had the usual baggage on social issues that is part of being a candidate standing on the democratic platform. Social issues were generally kept in the periphery of the campaign.
One disgruntled liberal, interviewed after the result of the election was announced, tearfully proclaimed this election ushered in the end of democracy. Well, I hope so, since our country was never founded as a democracy, but a representative constitutional republic, where Lex Rex reins supreme–the rule of law. The Founders never intended this country to be a pure democracy, they considered that to be “mob rule.”
Much was made about the John Doe investigation some claimed would incriminate Walker. Liberals ought now to stand on their convictions. If Walker in actually guilty, he will be impeached and removed from office. So if you actually believe Walker is a crook, it’s only a waiting game. How well did the last Lieutenant Governor fair at reelection time?
Exit polls showed that about 60% of people disagreed with recalls for any reason. I’m with the majority on this one. Recalls should be permitted only in cases of malfeasance, substantial moral defect, or criminal misconduct. Amend the Wisconsin Constitution so that the Republicans can’t pull the same shenanigans when the next democratic governor eventually takes office.
Another question was raised as to whether the election result in Wisconsin enhances Romney’s chance to flip the perpetual blue state in the presidential elections this fall. Before the election democratic pundits said yes, after the loss they said no it doesn’t. The truth is that it is far too early to look at presidential polls as telling us anything meaningful.
Despite the overtures made about bringing the state together, the recall battle will still be fought, at least in the hearts and minds of Wisconsin’s polarized residents.