On The Record has been focusing on the Wisconsin recall election of Governor Scott Walker coming up on June 5th. Last night, in an hour-long look at the contest, Fox News’ Griff Jenkins visited a factory where Walker spoke and asked the owner and employees how they feel about Walker and the recall. Predictably, they overwhelmingly supported Walker and rejected the recall. What Jenkins did not tell the “We report, you decide” network viewers? That the results skewed far away from the likely results of the recall election.
Nate Silver, at the New York Times, wrote yesterday that Walker’s lead, an average of 6% in the polls, makes him very likely to survive the recall vote. Still, that’s hardly the landslide victory Jenkins’ interviews would lead you to believe is in the works.
First, Jenkins spoke to John Walton, the owner of the factory where Walker spoke - and Surprise! Surprise! Walton is a Walker supporter. Walton called the recall “a very large waste of resources.” Then Jenkins briefly interviewed four employees: three against the recall, one for it. But even the rosiest polls for Walker don’t show this kind of a winning margin.
I also agree that even if they survive the recall, the damage to their political careers (and to this movement to attack public employee unions) will be considerable. It’s not likely that Walker will get back into office for another term after this – voters who don’t want to deal with the recall will take care of the matter in the next scheduled Governor election.
And that will mark the end of Walker’s political career. It’s pretty clear that he fancied himself another Rick Perry – a younger, photogenic GOP governor with aspirations toward higher office than just the governorship of one state. Had this attack worked, Walker would have fast-tracked himself to the top of the heap. Instead, he’ll become another occasional commentator on Fox News, and probably one of the talking heads that pops up on Hannity’s panel.
As pointed out in a post that got swept in the cleaning, around the time the recall was proposed, between 70-76% of the state (depending on who you ask) wanted him gone. Like ASAP. The way Walker kept exposing himself, the margin of people considering voting him out grew.
But Walker and his backers went all out on his image rehab, whoever’s coordinating it is a true master of manipulation. I mean, Karl Rove could take lessons from them good. But, even then… Walker hurt a lot of people on a very deep and personal level, even something like this shouldn’t work on them. But it is, and that has me kinda not feeling sorry for them in the least.
But, if it’s any consolation, Walker is the only one who seems to be enjoying this. I don’t think his handlers care about anyone else, Wisconsin’s listed as pretty likely to vote almost straight blue on most voting maps.
But what they admit to is having made a mistake in the process – not garnering enough support before they pushed through their legislation. Now maybe that’s code for bringing more people to the table but I took ti for “we’d do it all over again but manage the politics better.”
But I’m not so sure that winning the recall will be that much of a victory for them. Sure, they’ll claim it shows the unions have no clout but how much clout will the two of them have after this? Something tells me it’s their political capital – not the unions – that has been the most diminished in the process. And I’m not so sure that’s not the most important outcome.
I love vigorous debate but making it personal does nothing for anyone or anyone’s argument – other than to make more work for a moderator who will delete those comments.
This is why I think he needs to do something to address the whole state and not just his backers, exactly as you point out. I don’t know what Barrett can do in this, but if Walker wants him to be part of an attempt to be a cross-aisles peacemaking, that would probably be a good idea.
Regarding the healthcare/pension issue, I think I should point out that while we are regularly told that Social Security is “doomed” or “bankrupt” or “going over the cliff”, the fact is that Social Security will be solvent for at least another 25 years, after which it is projected to still be able to pay up to 80% of scheduled benefits without making any changes to the existing setup. And that situation assumes something like 1% growth every year for the next 25 years, which would mean that we’d been in something close to a depression for a heck of a long time. If we want to fix the situation with Social Security, we can simply do what a president about 30 years ago did – adjust the payroll tax in a minute fashion. That president was Reagan, and what he did insured SS solvency for future decades.
I do think we can afford single payer healthcare, but the country will not be ready to embrace this idea until the costs of healthcare rise to the breaking point for everyone. So far, we’ve been able to keep that wolf at bay. But it won’t last forever, and eventually the insurance companies will have to let go of that idea and just cover the many other areas they already handle. (They won’t go out of business – they’ll just lose the healthcare portion of it.)
As for the idea of everyone taking care of their own pension and healthcare costs individually, I must differ there. I believe that this would be incredibly expensive for most people – to the tune of several hundred dollars a month over and above their current costs of rent, utilities, food, etc. The wealthier among us could afford this – the less wealthy would wind up going to the ER as many uninsured do today. And then we all pay higher hospital costs, which would totally undo the point of such an approach. Further, if we were to abandon the idea of Social Security, you’d have exactly the scenario we had in the Great Depression where people were completely broke at the time of retirement even after working their whole lives and saving – since the banks went under, they lost everything and the result wasn’t pretty. Hence, social security for everyone. And by the same line of thought, it’s a darn good thing we did NOT do what George W. Bush was suggesting in 2004 of switching Social Security for private investment accounts – if we’d done that, the mess of 2008 would have been many factors worse.
I’m not sure who you are referring to as “you guys.” I live in California and I’m not interfering in how Wisconsin voters determine their future. This is why I ignored Walker’s request that I give him money with some bemusement.
I’m glad that you remember that over 900,000 registered Wisconsin voters signed the recall petitions for something to be done about Scott Walker. I see no sign that their movement has dissolved, as you put it. I do see indications that Walker has brought in 25 times more money than they have to fight them rather than listen to them.
Walker is indeed ahead in the polls, in the single digits consistently. He certainly isn’t pulling ahead by any strong number, unless you’re only looking at a poll skewed to favor him. He may well keep his office, but he’ll be seriously damaged by this entire affair. I’m sure you’d like to see the matter called off before it can do more damage but the wheels are already turning. Further, repeatedly bringing up the cost of the recall is a right wing talking point that ignores that EVERY election costs taxpayer money. It is part of our system of governance and voting. We all agree to be part of this as part of this society. If you’re saying, you don’t want to pay for this particular recall, then people who disagree with you could tell you various sectors of government they would rather not support. Or are you saying that there should be no recalls? Because GOP pundits in California were overjoyed at the 2003 Recall and cheered on the radio when Gray Davis was knocked out of office. Are you repudiating that?
I’m curious what polls you believe show union members in strong support of Scott Walker. Certainly there are some union members who do agree with and support him. But I’d be very surprised to see consistent polling across the board in Wisconsin that shows a majority of union members supporting a political operative who viciously attacked them in public and then insulted them while doing so.
The idea of making the state employee unions rejustify their existence every year is a deliberately onerous step designed to take advantage of the fact that most people don’t pay attention to that stuff. Giving them extra boxes on their timecards and extra tax materials and forms just to mess with the unions is a clear attempt to force the unions to spend a lot of time and money just to tell people about this – hence defending their own existence rather than actually working to protect their workers. And that’s part of the point. If Walker had his way with this, the unions would lose more and more members and funds until they simply ceased to exist. Which would coincidentally help the GOP as they would benefit from not having any union support for their Dem opponents, while the GOP could freely draw on unlimited corporate funds. Had Walker pulled this off, he’d be on a fast track to a White House run for the GOP as a miracle worker. Instead, he’s fighting for his own job and will face a serious problem in trying to be reelected even if he survives this situation.
You are correct that I am a union member, but not of a public employee union and obviously not in Wisconsin. I always find it interesting when the response to union rights is to attack the fact that unions protect the health and pension plans of their members, as though people should not have those things unless they operate their own businesses. Now, if you’re arguing that we should instead have a single payer healthcare system and that there should be a guaranteed retirement system like Social Security, than we can discuss that. But I think you’re arguing the former argument instead, which is truly unfortunate. And while we’re on the subject of state employee health and pension plans, let’s remember that your state employee unions agreed to change the terms of those things to help the state out of its budgetary problems. Walker ignored this and took what may have been a fatal political step for himself and his supporters.
I’m not asking for Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch to “fade away”, but yes, they do need to acknowledge that they are not just the governor/lt governor of the people they like. They are the public officials over the whole state of Wisconsin, including the nearly 1 million voters who petitioned to have them removed. Simply telling those voters that they’re wasting taxpayer resources, or dismissing their concerns in a smug tone will not erase the issues these voters have. Walker and Kleefisch need to learn their lesson and humbly acknowledge that they are public servants – not just of some business owners and wealthy taxpayers who don’t want state employee unions in their state, but of the whole state. If Walker and Kleefisch are unable or unwilling to do this, then they really do need to think about whether they should be in public service. And if they continue behaving the way they currently are, they are only increasing the likelihood that they will actually fade away within another election cycle or two. Not because I want them to – my intentions are irrelevant, but because they will have ignored a massive section of their own constituents.
Politics is the art of compromise. Walker could have had this if he had left it when the state employee unions agreed to the terms he demanded of them. When he then tried to take the kill shot as well, he revealed that he wasn’t interested in either the compromise or even the financial issues you say are the core here.
I realize that the right wing talking point is to say this is “wasting more of the tax payers money” but that ignores the taxpayers who demanded the recall in the first place after Walker and his guys attacked the union workers in his state.
And it’s a fact that most of Walker’s own support is from out of state, including the mailing he sent to me and many, many other people in California.
If you want to find a source for the divide and turmoil in Wisconsin, you might look to Walker and the GOP state legislature, which openly attacked union members, even after the unions had agreed to the financial givebacks that Walker demanded of them. The GOP move was intended to first defund the unions and then disband them – by making the union members repeatedly vote to support the union and to support the union’s right to exist in the first place. Walker was clearly intending for the support numbers to drop as most people don’t pay any attention to those boxes. Had his plan succeeded, he would have accomplished a complete end run on the unions and killed them with one shot. And yes, that kind of behavior does make one a “rock star” for the far right. Walker clearly thought it would make him material for higher office. Instead, he’s now fighting for his political life.
The appropriate course of action for Walker and Kleefisch would be for them to humbly apologize to the voters and rededicate themselves to serving ALL of their constituents, and not just the right wing ones who have listened to the stories about unions. The union members are also a large number of the taxpayers and voters in Wisconsin, and it’s a shame that the right wing does not think that their voice should count here.
Again, I have hopes that Walker and Kleefisch and even the state legislators can learn their lesson and do the right thing. But their current rhetoric does not indicate that they are hearing what the voters of Wisconsin are saying. And has been stated on 538, even if Walker narrowly keeps his office, he’s likely to be drummed out in the next election. Many voters who don’t want to deal with a recall will still throw him out at the next opportunity. I personally think it would be a better learning experience for him to take the loss now, as he could still come back to office with a better idea of what he was doing. But one way or another, he’ll eventually get the message his voters are trying to send him.
The Dem candidates did get a few moments to make their case, but far, far less time than the GOP candidates were given.
What is most shocking is the total lack of understanding by Walker or Kleefisch as to why the voters are holding them accountable for their behavior. The recalls were not put together by out of state union thugs. They were called by Wisconsin voters and taxpayers who were horrified by Walker’s vicious attack on the unions. Walker’s recently released comments about “divide and conquer” only point out that this was a planned move to weaken the Dem base in Wisconsin. (No union contributions for Dems means they cannot compete with the big business contributions for GOP. No unions in Wisconsin means no union contributions.)
Walker’s obvious intention was to pull a “shock and awe” move to essentially kill the public employee unions in Wisconsin with one shot. Had he succeeded in this, he would have been able to catapult himself to national prominence the same way Ronald Reagan did when he attacked the Berkeley protesters in the 60s. Instead, Walker was challenged by the voters of his state and forced to retreat into a purely defensive posture.
The proper response by Walker and Kleefisch should have been to humbly apologize to their constituents and to promise to uphold their oaths to serve all the people of Wisconsin and not just the GOP interests there. The proper response to the recall should have been to humbly acknowledge that the people have a right to hold them accountable and to promise to behave themselves. This was intended to be a teachable moment for Walker and Kleefisch – so that they could learn their lesson with the proper humility and good grace. It appears they are stubbornly refusing to do so.
I also strongly doubt Walker’s assertion that 75% of his funding for this campaign is coming from people donating 50 bucks or less. He’s outspending the Dems at 25 to 1. I don’t doubt that he’s fooled many GOP donators into sending him money – I received a request for money from him, and I live in California, and I’m not a GOP voter. But most of his funding is coming from some very well-heeled sources who don’t want to lose their standard bearer.
Hopefully, the recall may swing a little before the date and Walker and Kleefisch will finally receive the moment of clarity they so desperately need. I have hopes that after a few months back home thinking about their behavior, they may learn something.
If he is allowed to continue in office, Wisconsin will become the Mississippi of the North.