Thursday, May 31, 2012

As Washington Post columnist notes, the recall is a legitimate effort to protect the 99%

Yes, the eyes of the nation are watching Wisconsin. 

It’s not just because of the unprecedented money that Scott Walker is raising from billionaires the country. And it’s not just because the union movement fears for the future of the working class.

Independent, well-respected journalists understand that the recall election on June 5 will be a bellwether in how much the 1% in this country will be able to solidify not just their economic but also their political power.

It’s become popular to question the very concept of a recall. But a May 30 opinion by Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne Jr. makes clear that the recall is an entirely legitimate last resort by voters who fear for the state’s democratic institutions and progressive tradition.

As Dionne writes in his column, “Walker is being challenged not because he pursued conservative policies but because Wisconsin has become the most glaring example of a new and genuinely alarming approach to politics on the right. It seeks to use incumbency to alter the rules and tilt the legal and electoral playing field decisively toward the interests of those in power.”

Dionne’s column follows by a view days a lengthy article in the New York Times magazine asking, “How Did Wisconsin Become the Most Politically Divisive Place in America?

The Times article is an overview that covers everything from Act 10 to the mining controversy. It also makes clear that not all conservatives share Walker’s “take-no-prisoners” approach to governing. As the articles notes:

“Some Republicans [in Wisconsin] also lamented the end of the long bipartisan consensus on labor rights. Dick Spanbauer, a former Marine and self-described ‘pro-life, pro-family Christian,’ was one of four Republican Assemblymen to vote against Act 10. ‘The leadership told me, “Dick, we don’t need unions anymore,”’ he told me. ‘Really? What’s changed? Is a company going to say you don’t need to work 12 hours?’ Spanbauer, like his father, had worked much of his adult life in factories in Oshkosh. ‘They don’t understand anything about the working class,’ he said about his Republican colleagues. ‘They thought you could just go crush somebody’s voice and get away with it.’”

Few in Wisconsin welcome the recall battle. Regardless of who wins on Tuesday, many will breathe a weary sigh of relief that this marathon is finally over. But, as the Washington Post’s Dionne writes in ending his column, the recall’s root cause “was not the orneriness of Walker’s opponents but a polarizing brand of conservative politics that most Americans, including many conservatives, have good reason to reject."

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This blog is cross-posted at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Purple Wisconsin project. 

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