Big Money had a victory and democracy was set back on June 5th. But how we respond will define our character and our children’s future. This cannot immobilize us or deter us. New battles are looming.
We Are Not Going Away
Walker’s Republican campaign outspent Barrett’s Democratic campaign by $30.5 million to $4 million — that’s a 7.5 to 1 advantage. Another way of saying this is that of the $34.5 million spent on their campaigns, Walker spent 88% of the money.
Walker beat Barrett by 1,334,450 votes to 1,162,785 votes — 53% to 46% (with 1% going to an independent candidate).
Here’s another way of saying that: Walker spent $23 for each vote he received, while Barrett spent only $3.47 per vote. Scott Walker Spent 88% of the Money to Get 53% of the Vote.*
As Peter Dreier* stated it in his 6/6/12 Huffington Post blog, “But the reality is even worse than this, because the $34.5 million figure does not include so-called independent expenditures and issue ads paid for primarily by out-of-state billionaires (like the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and Joe Ricketts), business groups, and the National Rifle Association, which were skewed even more heavily toward Walker. Once all this additional spending is calculated, we’ll see that total spending in this race could be more than double the $34.5 million number, that Walker and his business allies outspent Barrett by an even wider margin, and that he had to spend even more than $23 for each vote.”
This is a defeat for democracy. But the last 16 months has been a victory for what can be. There are one million, one hundred and sixty two thousand, seven hundred and eighty five Wisconsinites who are not fooled by the lies and tricks of the right-wing.
On Election Day I gave rides to the polls and saw turnout beyond belief. Communities were mobilized, networks of organizers established and the demand for justice clear.
The New York Time editorial today described Wisconsin as a “laboratory” for the right-wing saying, “… from the beginning, the money behind Governor Walker was intended to turn a once-reliable blue state into a laboratory for Republican ideas, where business could grow free of union fetters, taxes could be cut and thousands of people could be removed from Medicaid rolls.
That’s why David Koch, the billionaire industrialist whose family money was crucial to Mr. Walker’s election in 2010, gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association this year, which, in turn, ran ads supporting Mr. Walker. Mr. Koch said Mr. Walker’s fight against public unions was ‘critically important.’ ”
The future of Wisconsin depends on our efforts on the ground and in communities to show our fellow Wisconsinites the betrayal of Walker’s policies. Voting rights are being decimated. Health care for the poor and elderly is being slashed. Women’s rights are under attack. Privatization is pervading public education. And where are the “Walker jobs?”
We must turn the Wisconsin “laboratory” into a haven for democracy. Keep up the fight!
Reverend King said, “We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
*Peter Dreier teaches politics and chairs the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His new book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, will be published by Nation Books later this month. An earlier version of this article appeared on AlterNet.