Wisconsin’s Recall Elections: A Really Big Deal

By Richard Thayer

A lot is riding on today’s recall elections in Wisconsin and the amount of money being poured into these campaigns reflect it: anywhere from $30 million to $40 million.

That money is being spent on just six state senate seats.

Did I say “just”?

Actually, those six seats are extremely important to both parties and to those who support them.

On the Republican side you have the Tea Party and big business interests, like the filthy-rich Koch brothers. And on the Democratic side you have pro-labor groups and working people who can see everything they, their parents and grandparents have worked for, being ripped from their grasp.

If you boil it all down it is a fight between those with money and those who are struggling to hold on to what little of it they still have.

As you may recall, last year, leading up to the mid-term elections, most Republican candidates–including those in Wisconsin–ran on jobs, jobs, jobs. With unemployment being so high and job-creation being so low, many people thought that was a great idea and they voted Republican.

BUT, when many of those Republicans got into office, their agenda shifted considerably and instead of creating jobs they began focusing on cutting jobs. And cutting the benefits of those who still had jobs, such as bargaining rights for public employees.

Somehow, the GOP leadership on Capitol Hill and in a number states interpreted their elections as being a mandate by “the American people” to attack middle-class government workers, school teachers and the elderly.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin was one of the first. Eager to make a name for himself with his Republican colleagues, the Tea Party and the infamous Koch brothers, he wasted no time in stripping away the bargaining rights of the state’s workers, arguing that this was somehow tied to the state’s efforts at reducing its deficit (which was a lie). While at the same time exempting people–like the Koch brothers–from paying taxes.

A lot of people, both Democrats and Republicans, have been upset by the GOP’s shenanigans in Wisconsin. But, fortunately, we still live in a democracy, and as a result of a law allowing those suffering from “buyer’s remorse” to recall elected officials, elections are being held today in Wisconsin.

And although today’s election only involves six state senate seats, it’s a really BIG DEAL (expletive omitted). If the Democratic challengers fail to win at least three of those seats, it will send a message to every anti-labor governor, state legislature, Tea partier, tycoon, and to every Republican member of Congress that it’s okay to brow-beat the middle-class. They will have a mandate to support their previous mandate.

Ah, but if at least three Democrats win seats in today’s recall elections it will (or should) send a strong message to the anti-labor movement that unions aren’t the push-over they evidently thought they were and they won’t be going down without a fight.

Says Rick Badger, executive director of AFSCME Council 40 of Wisconsin, “These elections are little proxies for what is going to happen for the rest of the country.”

If you are a middle-class worker, or a retired middle-class worker, and you’re concerned about your future and the future of our country, you have a vested interest in today’s election results in Wisconsin. A win in Wisconsin today will be a win for all of us.


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