Quote of the day

Here’s yet another analysis of the Recall Debacle in Wisconsin:

Much ink has been spilt and punditry hot air vented in explaining the failure to recall Scott Walker in this week’s election. Yet nearly all of it fails to address the appeal of Scott Walker and his policies for much of Wisconsin’s working and middle class. Walker was able to capitalize on the frustration over the continued erosion of living standards and insecurity felt by most Wisconsinites. Walker provided a false empowerment to the electorate by transforming them from victims to owners of the system. His campaign rebranded the electorate as “the taxpayer” or veritable stockowners of a company they owned: government. The people would take charge of their lives through a Walker-led movement against government waste by union and bureaucratic “elites.” Walker’s campaign thus took on the hue of a libratory project.

While the conventional explanations for Walker’s victory have some merit, they fail to explain the nature of victory or the true threat his strategy presents. To be sure, Walker and his billionaires were able to massively outspend their opponents. The peculiarities of the recall election laws and the US Supreme Court’s Citizen Action case permitted him to rain down endless weapons against the Democrats. The Republican National Committee deployed the full weight of their resources on Wisconsin; while the Democratic National Committee was largely AWOL, appearing only at the end to witness Walker deliver the coup de grace to his opponents. It was a historic betrayal of Wisconsin progressives they will not soon forget.

On strategy, Walker’s campaign was a fairly typical deployment of the Powell Doctrine (itself taken from Harry G. Summer’s musings on strategy following the US’s Vietnam debacle) to use overwhelming force against an opponent. Walker’s campaign carpet-bombed media with non-stop television and radio commercials for a half-year. Meanwhile, they positioned what seems to be an army of professional bloggers to control comment forums in the local press. In effect, they crowded out the public and often aggressively spread outright falsehoods on these sites, thus moving the Internet from a place of democratic dissent to use as a tool for reactionary power. This itself represents a major turn in the management of public opinion.

Ultimately, however, the bottom line is that Walker was able to capitalize on the very crisis and long-term economic decline Republicans helped engineer over the past thirty years–with no small help from the Democrats.

The “Walker won because of his money” claim is surely true, but Walker’s money was not the sufficient condition and efficient cause of his victory. As Sommers argues, Walker won because 1) of the economic distress caused by the reactionary economics practiced in the United States since the late 1970s and because 2) he created a right populist message that found a willing constituency. Sommers thus concludes:

In short, Walker has given voice to the working and middle classes so much hurt by the Reagan Revolution. The people have found their voice in Walker who skillfully and honestly, to his mind, articulates a narrative that resonates with Midwestern sensibilities of hard work and fairness. These concepts may have been distorted beyond all recognition to many observers, but to Wisconsin’s suburban and rural working class they have found their voice in Scott Walker. A ride through their neighborhoods reveals a veritable sea of blue yard signs declaring “I Stand With Walker!” Walker is a formidable candidate and better communicator than Reagan ever was. Analysts and pundits that dismiss his victory as one of simply money over the people do so at their and our peril.

Trumka put lipstick on a pig

 

English: AFL-CIO portrait of .

Richard Trumka, leader of that political black hole the AFL-CIO, had this to say about Scott Walker’s decisive victory in the recent Wisconsin recall election:

We wanted a different outcome, but Wisconsin forced the governor to answer for his efforts to divide the state and punish hard-working people.

Their resolve has inspired a nation to follow their lead and stand up for the values of hard work, unity, and decency that we believe in. We hope Scott Walker heard Wisconsin: Nobody wants divisive policies.

Yes, Trumka wanted to elect the Democrat in this election. We know this because the AFL-CIO always wants to elect Democrats. The Democratic Party and ‘big labor‘ have a special relationship. Trumka wanted ‘big labor’ to have a seat at the table. After all, AFL-CIO unions would need to be at the table in order to ‘negotiate’ the concessions the political and economic elite want unions to make. What Trumka did not want was the elimination of that furniture which never includes the majority of Americans. He thus wanted ‘big labor’ to have more political power than it now has, but not so much political power that that power would threaten to eliminate its seat at the table.

Actually, the election and the campaign beforehand hardly made Walker answer for his class politics. In fact, the outcome legitimized Walker’s class politics. Wisconsin voters affirmed a victory by the political reactionaries in America’s class war. Moreover, Walker’s easy victory made it clear to anyone with eyes that the left cannot challenge the party duopoly that governs America. The labor movement in America lost this election. Left populists lost this election. The system ‘worked.’

Finally, despite Trumka’s claim to the contrary, many Americans want divisive politics. The left especially wants divisive politics. The left wants to improve the lot of the poor, the working and middle classes; it wants to increase political accountability and democratic participation. These goals are inevitably divisive in the United States today. The Trumkas of the world do not want a divisive politics. They are, in a word, complacent. Gomperism lives. Complacency, unfortunately, produces system affirmative outcomes such as we have recently seen in Wisconsin and saw in 2008.

Good news

David Dayen reports:

Next Tuesday, Wisconsin organizers attempting to recall Governor Scott Walker, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state Senators will turn in their petitions, and they expect to have well above the number of signatures to trigger recall elections in all those races.

Wisconsin GOP wants to rig Wisconsin’s recall elections

Meanwhile, according to the San Francisco Chronicle:

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP leaders have launched a push to ram several years’ worth of conservative agenda items through the Legislature this spring before recall elections threaten to end the party’s control of state government.

Their intent is clear: To pass as many of their unwanted policies as they can before their legitimacy-deficit produces a severe electoral defeat.

Naturally, Wisconsin’s Republicans, like the vast majority of the Republicans in the United States, could care a damn about the nature and extent of their popular support. Their apathy in this matter appears in the voter suppression bill they want to push through Wisconsin’s Legislature (among many articles, see this, this, this, this). Fearing a loss of political power, the Republican Party instinctively seeks to disenfranchise members belonging to the base of the Democratic Party.

Recall elections now in Wisconsin’s future

David Dayan of FireDogLake reports:

The Wisconsin State Democratic Party just sent out an email to supporters announcing that they have officially filed recall papers against all 8 Republican Senators eligible for recall immediately. Depending on their success in gathering enough signatures – and the threshold is not too high, they need between 14,000 and 20,000 signatures in the various districts – the State Senate will be up for grabs in Wisconsin as early as this year.

The filing of recall papers starts a 60-day clock for signature gathering. Then the signatures are examined and challenges made, but if the recall petition meets all requirements, the recall begins just 6 weeks later. Recalls in Wisconsin include primaries and general elections; it’s basically a do-over special election.

Wisconsin recall central is located here.

A major drawback to the recall program: Democratic Senators will replace Republican Senators.