Today’s WTF: Wisconsin recall vote – democracy in action or harbinger of doom?


UPDATE: Well, it wasn’t as long a night as I expected. The results were not as close as had been predicted in polling, and the whole thing was over pretty quickly. A mighty disappointing night, which was not made any better by the fact that the Miami Heat lost to the Boston Celtics – at home –  and are now down 3-2 in the series. So I am quite the dejected chica this evening. Still, I am ready to take it all on again tomorrow and I hope my fellow Democrats are, too. The glass is still half full, y’all. 🙂

I haven’t written about the efforts to recall Scott Walker in Wisconsin, mainly because much has been written already and I genuinely had no useful insight to add to the debate. As the nation waits for the results tonight, however, I did feel the need to bring this topic up.

It’s been said that this recall vote will be a significant statement on the overall state of our nation’s politics. As goes Wisconsin, so goes the nation, according to many pundits and politicians alike. The press here in Florida have gotten in on the act as well, declaring that the Walker/Barrett race has implications in the Sunshine State, since there are similarities between Walker and our governor, Rick Scott. Commentators have been practically falling over one another in their efforts to hype this into a Don King-style battle royale, an epic, apocalyptic showdown that will take down Barrett, unions, President Obama and the entire progressive movement in one fell swoop if Walker retains his position.

But I’d like to throw a little water on this fire, if I may. Because as I see it, there are two probable realities headed our way:

1. Scott Walker will probably win tonight.


2. If he does, the Democrats and the president will probably survive.

I understand that many folks on the left felt the need to go full-throttle when discussing this recall election, because they wanted to motivate voters to get out there in big numbers to support Tom Barrett. I don’t have any problem with that whatsoever. Walker has done things in a manner that are not good for the state of worker’s rights or for the political process in general, and his heavy hand and single-minded approach are not something I care for at all. I would certainly love to see him rebuked at the ballot box for those maneuvers.

At the same time, I think it can be dangerous to use this same technique on a nationwide basis. If you need to get Wisconsin Democrats fired up, by all means, knock yourself out. But Florida voters don’t need to be told that, if Walker wins, we all may as well resign ourselves to Rick Scott and the Republicans for the rest of our lives. Democrats across the country don’t need to be told that, if Walker wins, that indicates doom for President Obama and his chances in the general election. Similarly, if Barrett is victorious, that’s no guarantee that there is enough support for the Democratic platform nationwide to become smug and complacent. This is a vote in one state, and one state only, being decided by people with a very specific set of issues that directly affect them where they live. The way this thing has been played up in the media, though, it is the Brawl to Settle It All, and whoever wins will have struck a major blow against the other side on a national scale.

I’d just like to interject something into all the hollering and hype. It’s going to be a close vote and a long night, if polls taken over the past week are in any way accurate. So while we wait for the results to start coming in, Democrats, take a deep breath. The sky is not falling. And this is June, not November. If Scott Walker wins tonight, it doesn’t mean that Mitt Romney is a shoo-in and Obama will lose the general. Hell, it doesn’t even mean he’ll lose Wisconsin; exit polls in Wisconsin so far are indicating that there’s a small edge in support for the president over Romney. That state is still very much in play, and so is every other state where there are active and organized Democrats willing to support the president. Let’s hope for the best, steel ourselves for the worst, and then be prepared to follow the exact same course of action, no matter what the outcome may be tonight – getting fired up, getting voters in our area fired up, and doing what we can to support the Democratic candidates who will be on the ballot in November. The race isn’t over, folks, so don’t tune out now. It’s just getting good.


12 thoughts on “Today’s WTF: Wisconsin recall vote – democracy in action or harbinger of doom?

  1. Well, said, Chris. Using your ‘Don King’ analogy, this is just a preliminary fight. The main event starts tomorrow. Keep telling it like it is.

    • Thanks Ted, I hope this doesn’t get turned into something bigger than it needs to be for our side. It was a big disappointment, and not as close as I had anticipated, but I’m still not seeing it as any sort of verdict on the way things will go in November.

  2. It’s an important election, not because of the impact on the 2012 election, but because of the future of workers’ rights. That said, I think your advice is wise and applicable to most situations. These kinds of fights are never definitively settled in terms of either politics or issues.

    • I think there will need to be some reflection on both sides of the fight when it comes to the workers’ rights issue. The way Walker handled it was way off base, but I also think that there were some specific concerns in Wisconsin about the prominence of the unions there, some of which may be justified based on what I’ve read. If labor wants to keep its place at the table, I think they may have to take a look in the mirror and decide if they are doing everything they can to earn that place, and not to just feel entitled to be there and to demand whatever they want. Just like everyone else in this country is going to have to do, they may have to compromise sometimes and they haven’t been too great at that. This reputation probably caused some of the public sentiment that went into this vote tonight. But make no mistake, Walker was looking to cripple unions, not just bring them into line with the economic realities of his state. Had he shown less overreach, the crisis may not have come to a head the way it did. Like I said, there’s a certain amount of accountability on both sides here.

  3. What’s interesting from the results of the recall is that exit polls showed people supported Obama over Romney 52-43%. Gotta wonder about the contradiction there. What does a Walker-Obama crossover voter look like?

    • Well, this election tonight was Walker/Barrett. The Obama/Romney decision is a whole other thing, and voters were obviously able to keep the two separate. Walker’s win was the result of many different factors which don’t necessarily apply to Obama’s campaign so I am not completely shocked to see that split, though it does read a bit weird when you just see the numbers on paper.

      • True, very different races, especially when voters need to look at the needs of the state in one and the nation in the other. But had it been me voting I’d find it difficult to reconcile the reasons I’d have to favor Obama and those for voting for Walker and a continuence of the policies that have gotten so much national attention.

        And you have to wonder what the Wisconsin Democrats were thinking putting up the very same guy who lost to him in 2010. Just doesn’t make sense.

  4. There were so many different things at play in Wisconsin, but one of the key issues was Barrett. Why put someone up that had already proven he couldn’t beat Walker, the Wisconsin Democrats made a bad play.

    It is of concern though, Walker is going to take this as a mandate and continue on his path of destruction in the state. I pity Wisconsin workers, but then you get what you ask for.

    • Absolutely a bad play to pick Barrett. And as for the mandate thing, I can definitely see that happening. But the fact that there were so many people in exit polls siding with Obama, even on the economy, should indicate to Walker (and any other Republican who’s paying attention) that he’s not off the hook yet, and things will be different in November.

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