As much as we all sorely wished that the recall effort in Wisconsin
would succeed, I don't know many people who were actually shocked when
it failed on Tuesday. The odds against winning were formidable. The
recallers gathered thousands more signatures that they would ever need
and it looked like that fact alone might carry them along to success,
but Big Money fought the recall
turning the image of valued public employees into thoughtless
money-grabbers at a time when belts had to be tightened. They
portrayed Scott Walker as a tough, savvy, pro-business leader who was
willing to take on the union-heavy public institutions responsible for
dragging the state down. That was the story, and the voters bought it.
In Wisconsin, the recall effort was an actual election, pitting Governor
Walker against his 2010 gubernatorial opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom
Barrett, who seemed like a nice guy with a compelling promise to bring
fair, honest governance back to that state but who, in the end,
couldn't make the case broadly enough.
The word on the street the morning after the election was that voters
thought recalls should be used against more egregious actions by a
sitting governor. Killing the chances at collective bargaining for all
public workers apparently didn't fit the bill. The word on the street
was that nobody cares about unions anyway, and good riddance to them.
The word on the street was that Wisconsin is and always has been an
unpredictable state and that this was a colossal waste of money and effort,
no matter how many signatures were gathered and no matter how worthy the
message. (Not much mention of the tens of millions of dollars Walker's
buddies threw into the race to keep his regime going.)
Michigan Rising, an organization working to gather signatures for Governor Rick Snyder's recall, announced on Wednesday
that it is calling off the recall challenge. An effort to gather
enough signatures fell embarrassingly short, and the loss in Wisconsin
became reason enough to end it.
We know now that recalls aren't the best way to protest. The fact that
only two governors in our country's entire history have ever been
recalled, and that Scott Walker was only the third to ever have been
challenged, says something about the chances for success. The chances
were pretty much nil from the start.
We liberal activists are getting used to failure, and getting used to
failure is not a healthy thing. It's demoralizing and it's way too easy
in the aftermath to just give up. It isn't that our hearts aren't in
it, or that we don't take the fight seriously. It's that we've never
run into such concerted, committed opposition before, and we don't have a
clue about how to handle it. We're fighting a vast faction with a
mighty war chest bent on taking over this country by making our own
government work against us. The proof is out there, practically in neon
lights, that Republican governors of many of our states have signed up
for the takeover.
They follow an agenda set out for them by right-wing organizations fully
capable of fighting the battle for the states all the way to the end,
and they're determined not to stop there. They've forced nearly every
single Republican politician to sign a pledge never to raise taxes
or their funding will dry up as quick as dung in the desert sun. It's the Grover Norquist plan
, and even though Grover Norquist has no real credentials, he is the
frontrunning Republican rule-maker and nobody in his party ever seems
to wonder who died and made him king.
The diabolically clever part of the "never raise taxes
" plan is
that it can be used to effectively kill any program the Republicans are
against. Any social program, any essential safety net, can die an
unnatural death by defunding, underfunding or outright abolishing,
thanks to the new rules set in place by the likes of Norquist, ALEC, the
Koch cabal, the Supreme Court Citizens United
various Tea Party newbies in the House who have promised to shed real
red blood if necessary in order to honor the edicts of the monied right wing.
As David Horsey wrote in yesterday's L.A. Times