An upside-down world

How upside down is this state? Those who supported Democrat state senators leaving the state to prevent votes from taking place in the State Senate are now organizing a recall effort against a governor and four Republican state senators who were duly elected and who didn’t try to obstruct democracy. With the recall effort in full swing, many people are asking what will happen. Will Walker survive? I’ll look at certain political clues to predict the potential outcome.

One major sign of trouble is that despite the recall effort, the Democrats still haven’t found a candidate to run (although several names have been mentioned). Ignore the claims they are “holding back” until the recall effort produces the signatures needed. Any opposition candidate should already have started fundraising efforts if he or she wants to be successful in running a statewide campaign within a time limit normally allotted to running for local office.

I believe the Democrats can’t find anyone to run against Gov. Scott Walker because few candidates believe they can beat him. First they have to come up with at least 500,000 signatures. Then they have to withstand the challenges to the signature petitions. Then they probably have to raise $10 million on short notice to fund the campaign, and the opposition candidate has to do all this while running the campaign.

Meanwhile, Walker has had the unlimited ability to raise funds (there are no campaign donation limits during the recall), which puts him months and millions of dollars ahead of any Democrat candidate. Eventually, beating an incumbent in a statewide race with only a few months to fundraise and spend the money when it takes that long just to plan and implement a campaign becomes nearly impossible.

More importantly, any candidate would have to run against the Governor’s record of reforms and eliminating a state budget deficit that he inherited when he took office, something the Democrats couldn’t achieve. Despite the claims of coming disaster, the state hasn’t come to an end. In fact, Walker and the Legislature saved Wisconsin from bankruptcy and did so without massive cuts to schools or state government. Where’s the evidence of failure?

The Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators – folks like Madison School Superintendent Dan Nerad – expressed surprise at the results of a recent survey of their 355 district members across the state. WASDA asked superintendents their opinions on the impacts of the reforms. With an incredibly high 83% response rate, the results show that the reforms helped schools balance their budgets without the massive layoffs that were threatened, and without property tax increases.

In addition, public school teachers didn’t see their base salaries cut, although they now share a little in the cost of their own pension and health care costs (5% and 12%, respectively). The real risk for the Democrats in the recall effort comes if they don’t collect enough signatures to force a recall election, or if they collect enough signatures but lose the recall election. In either case, the voters will have spoken, validating Walker’s budget reforms and giving him a mandate for more reform.

The real question is this: are we as taxpayers and voters going to endorse a recall process that circumvents democracy? Are we going to allow a small band of power players to nullify the results of every election every time they don’t like the results?
If we let them hijack democracy, if we let only government employees determine who leads our government, we’ll enter a period of continuous turnover in our elected leadership, just like in third-world countries, and the quality of those running for office will grossly decline. If that happens, the power players will have won.

So don’t sit idly by. Get involved and fight for democracy. Fight the recall.

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