Current Magazine

Walking Away Unscathed: Wisconsin’s Recall Election Results

Posted on the 06 June 2012 by Anthonyhymes @TheWrongWing

It is not often that a governor of a state comes so close to being forcibly expelled from office. Unfortunately, the left will have to wait for another day. Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s Republican governor and terminator of unions, survived a recall election yesterday; the climax of a conflict that began over a year ago. 

scott walker wisconsin recall election

Not even the Governator was this ballsy

Walker — a staunch conservative who opposes abortion in all cases, wants to see abstinence-only sex education taught in classrooms, and supports pharmacists who refuse to fill contraceptive prescriptions for any reason under the sun — has unsurprisingly become the latest squirt from the rusty hose of Tea Party darlings. He has also refused plans for public transport development, turning down federal money for a high-speed train line to stimulate growth in his state. But none of these reasons brought upon him the wrath that he faced over the past year (and the wrath that he will continue to face). It was his blatant attack on unions.

Balancing a state budget is a requirement under the US Constitution. Republicans, ever adverse to the idea that the government should spend money, fought hard to try to put budgets under control. Using this political cover, Walker went on the offensive with a surprise attack on unions that left them reeling. While negotiating a decrease in public workers’ pay to balance the budget, he inexplicably stripped collective bargaining rights away from unions.

The purpose and efficacy of unions will always be up for debate. In the early 20th century free-wheeling days of capitalism, unions became important ways to improve workplace conditions and ensure fair wages. As their power grew, so did their reach, encompassing private workers, public workers, and any other group that felt they needed to organize. But after the 1960s and 70s, union membership has been on the decline in the United States, and now it represents only a small portion of all workers (around 12%).

Republicans have always despised unions, since they feel that unions are anti-capitalistic. Republicans recoil at the thought of the teachers’ union or UAW, groups who reliably vote Democrat and who value things like workplace safety, healthcare, and pensions, instead of excess profits. It is in no small way one of the reasons that Walker felt like he could take the unions head on. He hated them before he ever got to office.

But balancing a budget through pay decreases and adjustments to pension schemes has no correlation to collective bargaining rights, and Walker’s actions were a clear overstep from misunderstanding the situation to deliberately attacking. Walker saw his opportunity, and in he jumped.

He would never have attempted this maneuver if he didn’t have the unconditional support from conservatives across the country, and — thanks to the Supreme Court — all the money that he needed. 70% of money for him to fight for his survival came from outside the state of Wisconsin. Rich donors, corporations looking to do the same thing, the Republican party, literally anyone who dislikes unions, could and did donate to protect their warrior. Walker outspent his challengers 7 to 1. He only won by a few percentage points.

What would have happened if state politics were forced to remain separate, and if there were limitations on the influx of out-of-state money? He would have been taken down. And what happened to states’ rights? Surely it is one state’s right to decide their issues on their own, free of influences from other states in the country? Isn’t this how Republicans defend certain positions: “it’s up to the state?” This, sadly, seems to be yet another hypocrisy in the endless string of right wing nonsense.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog