Recently, local news stations in the Milwaukee area have reported that Walker’s recall is due to the issue of collective bargaining rights. But that’s simply not the case. The loss of the right to collectively bargain may have propelled Wisconsinites to storm the Capitol last February, but that’s not what his recall is ultimately about. Don’t be fooled; this recall is about the Wisconsin way vs. the Walker way.
What has galvanized Wisconsinites of all political stripes and prompted the collection of recall signatures is Walker’s radical methodology and agenda. It takes much more than one single issue to spur the electorate into action. The level of sustained political involvement we’ve witnessed here in the past year is historic, and its underlying cause is simple: the Walker administration has little regard for long-held Wisconsin values and ways.
Had more voters known Walker would seek to undermine the Wisconsin way in order to advance ALEC-sponsored legislation, he would never have been elected in the first place.
During a press conference Tuesday morning, Representative Peter Barca described his travels across the state and his conversations with “large numbers” of Republicans and Independents who had voted for Walker for Governor but who are now gathering signatures for his recall. They cite Walker’s dishonesty and lack of transparency as main reasons for joining the recall effort.
Democrats and some Republicans and Independents with whom I’ve spoken here in Waukesha County have told me the same thing. They don’t want be “of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations.” They want a return to Democracy. And as Rep. Barca reiterated this morning, the “hallmark of American and Wisconsin Democracy” is first amendment rights. They want those back, too.
For example, nobody wants to have to get a permit or liability insurance just to sing or protest on state property. We’ve never had to do that before, and certainly not at our state capitol. That’s not the Wisconsin way; it’s Scott Walker’s way.
Scott Walker’s ways have transformed our state from a practical as well as an ideological standpoint. For the first time in our history, we lead the nation in job loss. According to Mike Tate, who also spoke at Tuesday’s press conference, “34,900 Wisconsinites are out of work,” and Walker’s party voted to make those seeking jobs wait an extra week to receive their unemployment benefits.
That’s not the Wisconsin way.
Neither is drastically cutting education, eliminating the Earned-income Tax Credit and the Homestead Tax Credit to raise taxes on the working poor, or making it harder for seniors, students and people of color to vote.
Wisconsinites also get a little nervous when the FBI finds it necessary to raid the homes of our Governor’s former staff in the middle of the night. Regardless of party affiliation, we find John Doe investigations unsettling, as we don’t tolerate political corruption here in Wisconsin. And we don’t take kindly to Walker’s use of frivolous lawsuits as a method to distract voters, either. It’s a waste of taxpayer money. Nobody likes that, and it’s certainly not the Wisconsin way.
Clearly, the recall effort is not simply about collective bargaining. It’s about how, in just one short year, Walker has managed to radically change the essence of our state. Governor Walker has altered the very characteristics that make our state so special.
But the one thing Walker cannot change is our inherent drive to do what it takes to defend our values, even if it means standing out in the freezing cold to gather signatures while enduring profanities, shouts of “get a job!” and worse. We won’t back down and we won’t give up, no matter how much corporate money we’re up against. That’s the Wisconsin way.