#574 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #19. One week to the Recall Election in Wisconsin

UPDATE June 1, 2012: I posted the below on Tuesday May 29, and there are quite a number of comments at the end.
This is an election with far more than routine long-term implications, far beyond “right” vs “left”, “conservative” vs “liberal” or “union” vs “right to work”. This one, with “divide and conquer” to the absolute max, is the ultra-rich and powerful versus the rest of us, which means almost all of us, including everyone I know.
We sent $50 “across the border” so we’ve now become part of the outside money. It doesn’t quite match the $500,000 from the “swift-boat” guy in Houston TX or the $500,000 from the Beloit billionaire (see blog)- and these are only the contributions to the sitting Governor which they have to disclose (see Minneapolis Star Tribune front page article for June 1 here.) There’s pots full of “swift boat” money that doesn’t need to be disclosed as to source.
The only people who will see this blog of mine are people from the middle class – working people like I am, representing the overwhelming vast majority of potential voters in the upcoming election. In the next five months, starting Tuesday, we determine our fate…
Pay attention. Get involved.
(click on photos to enlarge)

Wisconsin State Capitol March 4, 2011

Less than a week from now the Wisconsin recall election will be history. Those of us in the border area media markets, sitting much like spectators at a parade, will have been inundated by the same half or non-truths as our neighbors across the St. Croix, but we won’t have an opportunity to vote for any candidates. That is as well, because those policy makers elected don’t make policy for our own state.
Those in Wisconsin will have to live with their decision next Tuesday.
We outsiders simply have to put up with the Wisconsin circus for a few more days. And in the process we can learn what’s ahead for us in the coming months.
It has long been known that Citizens United money would come in by the gazillions of dollars for this election. I call it “Citizens United” since it arrives by the boatload largely from very wealthy interests and is essentially anonymous. It is what pays for those ads, the assorted (and abundant) “dirty tricks” we’ve read about, and will continue to hear about through June 5.
Then, like the aftermath of a tornado, on June 6 Wisconsin will sift through the rubble to see what is left standing.
A couple of weeks ago, more or less at the same time, I heard two pieces of information about Wisconsin that seem to well frame the over-arching Election Issues for the election.
1. There is the now famous “divide and conquer” video of Gov. Scott Walker meeting with the billionairess from Beloit; the lady who wanted assurance that her contribution would lead to a permanent “red state”. I’m sure the video is readily available, and anyone can look it up, very easily.
2. Then came the flap over the apparent reluctance of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to cough up $500,000 to at least help match the tornado of money coming in to support Walker. If memory serves, estimates were that the Republican-Democrat campaign money differential might be as much 25 to 1.
I was less than impressed by both narratives.
“Divide and Conquer” is a frequently used strategy, and it never works, except in the short term.
Perhaps one of the worst examples of a supposedly successful “divide and conquer” strategy is the disaster that has been Wisconsin since Jan. 2011. Scott Walker and his party won by division. That is all. But they conquered nothing, at least not permanently. The people of Wisconsin are the losers, and if they have some collective intelligence they will repudiate what they’ve had to live through, and not tolerate such nonsense again. Whoever wins next week will inherit abundant anger from those who lost. There is no “win” for anyone.
As for the Big Daddy (or Big Party) Cash Cows coming to the rescue of Walker of the Dems, I can’t see how that helps either.
Conventional wisdom these days (which is not very wise, in my opinion) is that you win and lose by dollars spent on media advertising and the like.
But where the election next week will be won or lost is by the presence (or lack of) local “boots on the ground”, and, then, people actually showing up at the polls next Tuesday.
Daddy (or Mommy) Warbucks can have ships full of money to dispense, but in the end they are – each of them, including that billionaire – a single vote, just like everybody else. Those who vote uninformed, or stay at home and don’t vote at all, are de facto voting by their absence.
We’ll probably spend a few bucks across state lines (I emphasize “few”), but in the end, the win or the loss will come from the people of Wisconsin who actually show up on Tuesday. It is for this reason that I had little sympathy for the crew that wanted a national group to come in and rescue local people from their own necessary efforts. We’ll never succeed in getting money in politics under control, if we try to win every battle by money alone.
Next week we’ll know what Wisconsin decided.
And in a few months we’ll have our own demonstration in our own state of whether we care enough, or not.

Governors Office, Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison, March 4, 2011

(For other election 2012 commentaries, simply enter the words election 2012 in the search box, and other postings will be identified.)
Andrena: We’re 85% on the same page. I still believe the DNC should have given the WI Dems what they requested. The money could have been targeted to the GOTV efforts & media. Moreover, it would have been nice if the DNC could have strategically produced media ads ready to go regardless of who won the primary. In any event, I’ve signed up to phone bank this weekend. I don’t think I would be as effective door knocking in Hudson as an African American woman with MN tags might not go over well with the local folk. My phone voice is flat – aa midwestern/Canadian accent as I’ve often been told.
Fred: Thanks for the report from the front and your response. You’ve got to feel sorry for Wisconsin and its people. Every state has similar political divisions these days but this already-partitioned territory has to publicize the news to the nation. And when it’s over, the anger of the losers will deepen.
Jeff: (1) Just spent the weekend in Madison. And previous weekend in Hayward.
Walker signs are all over most of rural Wisconsin, barely any Barrett signs seen up en route to either city in our drives.
I didn’t watch much local tv, so cannot say about advertising.
Turnout is expected to be 60 to 65 pct, the recall proponents will need to get every last vote.
Polls are pretty much the same… Walker has a 4% lead with the margin of error 4%.
My daughters boyfriend, is a firefighter and EMT, he is canvassing for the recall, and has been a bit frustrated from Dems he calls on … they don’t seem energized… the unions and the teachers and the hardcore are energized, but the hoi polloi seems a bit lackadaisical. Maybe fatigue is the right word, I think a better chance he will be indicted in the ongoing corruption investigation in Milwaukkee county might be more fruitful
There seems to be a portion of Dems and independents who don’t like the guy but also are not in favor of recall. That is the margin of error.
Another report I read said that Walker will take suburban Milwaukee and Wausau and Green Bay; Barrett will take Madison and the surrounding counties, the city of Milwaukee and the Southwestern part of the state
So they say the margin of victory in out in the small towns and rural areas of central, western and northern Wisconsin.
(2) It is risky, but latest polling shows it is getting tighter… Barrett and recall forces have had to wait to spend until the last week. Its going to be a turnout battle. Lets hope the recall works. Another person in Wisc. Told me they think if Walker wins, that Feingold will run against him in 2014.
Denise: Thank you for your posting to your blog on Tuesday! This must be very frustrating living so near to Wisconsin and having to listen to all of this. It is even more frustrating living here and having to deal with our current governor.
Here in Racine, we have a tough unemployment situation. There are jobs for skilled labor, but the cuts to the local technical college have made it even more difficult for anyone who wants the training to attend classes. Some local employers are training interested high school students with the promise of a job after graduation, but the situation is still so aggravating.
We all want a good outcome and positive changes here. Even if Scott Walker is ousted, which I hope that he is, all of this billionaire advertising will pit neighbor against neighbor for a long time.
Our prayers for peace are not only for what happens abroad, but also for our own neighborhoods due to this divisiveness.
Corky: Well worded Dick. We are flooded with calls, letters and pictures like never before. The WEAC supported Democratic candidate fell a LITTLE SHORT of a win in WISC primary. What qualifies as middle class today? Where is the national agenda for education from either party?
Stephanie: Beautifully said, Dick. I was in Hudson the other day and was encouraged by the homemade signs supporting Barrett …there were more of them than the pre-fab Walker signs…this would be such a sweet win for working people…heck, for everyone who cares about a sane society.
Leila: Sane society? We just had a entire Michigan school district turned over to an “emergency manager” who proceeded to hire a charter school company and fire all 80 teachers because the district was $12 million in debt. I hope that Minnesota remains poised to fight off attacks on public education because they are really fighting dirty in Michigan.
Jermitt: Walker is a very dangerous man. He has created great harm to public education, the environment, the poor and the elderly. This past year he paraded around with his rich friends, mostly from states other than Wisconsin, and raised multi-millions of dollars from his rich friends. Wisconsin is losing it reputation of being a “clean political” state with all the corruptions and big money taking over.
Patricia: Yes, those of us in the Duluth-Superior area know only too well what you mean about being inundated with ads. I ALSO think our being just across the bridge with adds to our understanding of the situation. A lot of the “outsiders” manning picket lines etc. are from our side of the border. Duluthians and North Shore residents shop in Superior a LOT, our kids go to UW@S, we work on either side of the border and feel a strong kinship.
Norm: Recall elections of any kind let alone of this magnitude are hard to win and Walker will probably win by the current poll margin of 4% or so or about the same margin as he beat Barrett by last time. Many union folk apparently are not all that enthusiastic about Barrett having preferred another candidate in the primary so that may explain the lack of enthusiasm that Dick mentions in his fine blog. As per Dick, I have also heard of many Democrats who don’t like Walker but feel that he should be allowed to serve out the term to which he was elected by the voters…and that will be a crucial factor in a close election as Dick noted. And there are always a certain number of folks, as Dick and others very well know that have a continuing [grievance] against public employees that can easily be exploited in their favor by the supporters of Walker and the ALEC agenda. As a public employee myself, I am well aware of the negative feelings of many citizens about us regardless of whether they have a rational reason for feeling that way.
Walker will likely win by a small margin although the margin could be larger and surprise all of the pundits and so on…prior to the start of the predictable adaseum analyses on whether or not outside money affected the race or not.
Jeff: Look past Madison. The economy here is slowing down in concert with the impending euro collapse and its tsunami effect worldwide. China and India are also slowing down and no longer have the froth to prop up the world as in 2008-2009.
This is not good for our mutual friend the POTUS [President Obama], I would have said he might have won if things kept improving slowly, but if things head the other way which is what I am seeing in past 60 days, this election is a toss up. Just like in Europe, its really not an ideological things, incumbents will be punished regardless of the party.
Dick, responding to Jeff: The American blood sport is to blame the President for everything. It is prudently noted that the first act of the Republicans when President Obama was inaugurated in 2009 was to obstruct everything, and create failure, hoping they could take credit later and blame him for the current problems. Never forget where the dominos were first set up to fall: easy credit and paying for a long war on the national credit card beginning in 2002 in a heavily Republican dominated government.
Will: The Wisconsin recall election is America in microcosm. In this election year, it will tell us a lot about where the electorate is re the Nov. 6 election.
Always remember that Republican master strategist Karl Rove has as his goal installation of a permanent Republican majority in the three branches of government. He has the Supreme Court in hand by a consistent 5-4 margin on key issues for the nation. Whether he can succeed for the long haul in the House and Senate remains to be seen.
John: My baptism into the teacher union movement was in 1968-69 when I was chief negotiator of a first contract for the Albany EA with the Albany , WI public schools. This was bargained under the provisions of the Wisconsin public sector bargaining law. After a few more years of teaching music, in 1971 I began my professional career as a union organizer for with the Minnesota Education Association, later known as Education Minnesota. Just as I was retiring last year, after 40 years with the union here in MN, Gov. Walker was throwing a monkey wrench into the works in my home state. It seemed, and still does, as unbelievable.
Make no mistake: the assault on public sector unions in Wisconsin is part of a much bigger push by the right wing to dis-empower all workers, unionized or not, both public and private. The fight to recall Walker and his conservative legislators has been intriguing to observe. I am pulling for a successful outcome. If only the right wing push in Wisconsin were an aberation! All to many citizens either “think” they are in the top 1% or expect to be (winning the lottery?) and don’t realize how assaults on any workers is an assault on them.
The motto of the State of Wisconsin is “Forward”. Let’s all act on another slogan: “Forward ever, backward never”.
Susan: Dick, well written and true, although Wisconsin (where I live) is a flashpoint for all the battles in this country. We can’t win with money – the boatloads went elsewhere. But we can fight back with bodies knocking on doors. We Wisconsinites will have to live with what happens. And Minnesota has its own challenges too.
Sabrina: I sent postcards to the DNC and asked that they openly support the Democrats in Wisconsin. The Democrats have got to also be concerned with what state legislatures are doing cause they are the ones working to take away our rights.
Mary Ellen: Thanks, Dick. It’s not easy living in Wisconsin lately. But, neighbors are still friendly and we all try to avoid the divisiveness promoted in every political ad and sound-bite. We’re also refusing to take their dumb polls. The 4% is bogus. Walker is on his way out. It’s only a question of how big a margin it will be. Tuesday can’t come soon enough. That’s the day we can prove that the vote is mightier than the dollar.
Dick 8:30 p.m. June 3: Latest report, on CBS news this afternoon, was that Gov. Walker had a 3 to 1 advantage in $’s for his campaign. I suppose somebody could say that “that’s almost even”. Of course it isn’t almost even….

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