Morning headlines read more like obituaries than reason for anyone to celebrate. Despite pre-election polls suggesting either candidate could win, odds greatly favored Republican Scott Walker.
He outspent Democrat Tom Barrett around 25 - 1. Corporate backing made the difference. The Democrat National Committee (DNC) gave no financial or campaign support. Neither did Obama. Effectively they conceded. Final results didn't surprise.
On June 6, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel headlined "Walker wins recall race over Barrett," saying:
He became "the first governor in (US) history to survive a recall election...."
In March 2011, Boise State University's Political Science Professor Gary Moncrief said:
"I don't think there's a precedent for what's going on in Wisconsin. I don't think there's ever been a case where pretty much everyone has been subject to a recall attempt at one time on both sides. That's really amazing."
He referred to legislative and gubernatorial recall campaigns ongoing at the time.
Only four previous times in US history were multiple state lawmakers recalled at the same time for the same issue:
- 90 years ago in North Dakota for governor and two other state officials;
- two in Idaho in 1971 over a pay raise;
- two in Michigan in 1983 over a tax vote; and
- two California Republicans in 1995 for collaborating with Democrats.
Before 2012, only two governors faced recall elections.
In 2003, California Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced Democrat Gray Davis. One anti-populist leader succeeded another. Voters lost out entirely.
In 1921, Republican/Nonpartisan League Governor Lynn Frazier was recalled. Republican Ragnvold Nestos replaced him. In 1923, Frazier won a US Senate seat. He served until January 1941.
"Recall is an extreme measure (under) extreme circumstances," noted University of Iowa Professor Caroline Tolbert.
Other analysts said everyone is watching Wisconsin. Before 2011, only two lawmakers in state history were recalled.
Last year, Democrats lost four of six recall races. Republicans kept legislative control. While popular sentiment wants change, Democrats and Republicans offer none. Both parties support wealth and power. Vitally needed social justice doesn't stand a chance.
Across America, earlier era progressivism is nowhere in sight. It began in the 19th century to end slavery, support women's rights, small farmers, and political populism. It advocated:
- social reforms benefitting ordinary Americans;
- citizen empowerment;
- comprehensive education as a universal right;
- curbing corporate power;
- eliminating corruption and waste;
- labor rights;
- laws prohibiting child worker exploitation;
- environmental conservation, and other issues stressing social values over financial gain.
In January 1944, Franklin Roosevelt proposed an economic bill of rights. The earlier one "proved inadequate to assure us equality and the pursuit of happiness," he said. He endorsed:
The right to a useful and remunerative job.
The right to a good education.
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies.
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment.
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.
The right of every family to a decent home.
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.
Roosevelt didn't live long enough to promote implementation. Today's neoliberal policies oppose what he proposed. Party boss agendas exclude social justice. Today's America reflects high unemployment, eroded labor rights, growing poverty, an unprecedented wealth gap, and mass deprivation.
Final vote totals showed Walker won 53.2 - 46.3%. He declared victory. Barrett conceded.
Republican Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch also held office. Four senate seats were contested. Republicans won three. Control of the evenly balanced Senate hung in the balance.
Democrat John Lehman defeated Republican incumbent Van Wanggaard. Winning gives Democrats Senate control.
However, the slim margin of victory may prompt recount calls, so it's too early to know for sure. If Lehman's win holds, Democrats will have a 17-16 majority.
Recall elections are now over. In 2011, Democrats gained two seats. Republicans kept majority control.
In November, 16 of 33 Senate seats will be contested. Since 1990, incumbent senators were reelected only twice.
Nation magazine contributors represent America's pseudo-left. They're Democrat party apologists. They support the worst of Obama. They ignore union bosses selling out rank and file interests for their own.
They believed replacing Walker meant change. After years of neoliberal Clinton/Obama politics, they portray them and other Democrats as pro-labor.
Editor Katrina vanden Heuvel claimed "win or lose," Wisconsin's recall campaign "gives progressives something to build on." She and Nation magazine prioritize reelecting Obama, keeping a Democrat controlled Senate, and gaining a House one.
Neither party distinguishes itself from the other. On issues mattering most, not a dime's worth of difference separates them. Obama governs to the right of George Bush. He and Romney endorse similar policies. Only their rhetoric differs.
Wisconsin's no different. Democrats govern like Republicans. Barrett or Walker makes no difference. Union bosses abandoned worker rights. Their concern focuses only on their own.
No matter which party won on Tuesday, Wisconsites lost. So will all Americans in November. Bipartisan complicity assures worse neoliberal harshness and more imperial wars. Only sustained popular rage can change things. It's simmering but needs to boil.
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