A recall effort to preserve rights
Wisconsin residents fervently want their government to do what’s best for the state. But many disagree on what that is.
There has been much debate in the media as to whether there should be a recall of Gov. Scott Walker. Here is why I want to see a recall.
It’s not because the governor is slashing the education budget; other governors before him have done the same, even Democratic ones. It’s not because he is cutting health care for many in the state who need it; this country has long denied the poorest of its citizenry access to basic health care.
It’s not because he’s supposedly balancing the budget on the backs of teachers and other public employees by requiring them to pay more for their health care and pensions, thus eroding their take-home pay. None of those are the reasons I want to recall this governor.
There is something bigger going on in our country, something insidious that is undermining the very fabric of our democracy nationwide. And Walker, whether purposefully or because he is an unwitting puppet, is part of it.
The Republicans thought they had finally attained Karl Rove’s vision of a “permanent Republican majority” when George W. Bush was handed the presidency by the Supreme Court in the 2000 election. Imagine their surprise when Democrat Barack Obama was elected in 2008.
So, the behind-the-scenes power brokers and the political action committees with big corporate money geared up and in 2010 helped states elect a large group of governors and state legislators who would take their marching orders. Those marching orders include legislation to end collective bargaining state by state and, thus, to quell one powerful voice of the people. Those marching orders also include legislation to make it more difficult for people who tend to vote for Democrats to vote at all.
Around the country, Republican-led legislatures began redrawing district boundaries to keep Republicans in power. In Arizona, where the people chose (via referendum) to have a bipartisan commission draw their lines, the Republican governor moved to have the chairwoman of the commission removed because she didn’t like the way they were drawing the lines (the court overruled that governor).
The Republican governor of Michigan signed a law giving him the right to declare a municipality or city to be in “financial crisis” and then to appoint a private-sector manager who would take over that municipality. The manager could dismiss elected officials!
There is an egregious takeover of our democracy by people who hold economic power. The Citizens United Supreme Court decision gave corporations the ability to buy elections. One individual, Grover Norquist, has somehow gotten a significant number of Republican legislators (both state and federal) to sign his pledge to do what he demands, rather than what is right for constituents. He apparently holds the purse strings to their re-elections, and somehow that is legal. And no one seems to be able to do anything about it.
So, why do I want to recall Walker? Because I can. Because my rights as an individual elector in our grand, 200-year-old experiment in democracy are being systematically and systemically eroded. If I don’t do something now to preserve our democracy, I will lose the ability to effect any change in the future.
The people of Wisconsin spoke last spring when they rallied week after week. They said they want our democracy preserved. It begins by preserving our right to collectively bargain. Because without that right, we have no voice.
Those rallies emboldened the Wisconsin electorate to recall two Republican state senators this past summer. The recall of those senators emboldened the people of Ohio to overturn an anti-collective bargaining law in November, as well the people of Michigan to recall one senator, the people of Mississippi to reject a “personhood referendum” and the people of Maine to demand that same-day voter registration be allowed in defiance of their governor’s signed law to repeal it. The people are choosing to take back their democracy.
Yes, the recall here will be expensive. Democracy does not come cheap. Yes, Walker was voted in by the people a year ago. But that was under false pretenses funded by corporate denizens. And, no, we cannot wait until his term is over in 2014. If we wait that long, this governor and the people who bought his election will have further eroded our democracy and the ability of the people to have a say in how we are governed.
If we are successful in changing who sits in the governor’s seat in Wisconsin, that – added to what Ohio, Michigan, Mississippi, Maine and other states are doing – will send a clear message to the corporatists that we will not accept their form of government. And it will embolden other citizens to take action.
Democracy is precious to me. It is why I am proud to be an American. I have a voice today. If I do not exercise that voice now, I may lose the ability to exercise it tomorrow. This is why I am working to recall Walker. I am working to preserve our democracy.
Peggy Williams of Madison is a public school teacher and a freelance writer.