Thursday, 07 June 2012
By Arun Gupta and Steve Horn, Truthout
A nameplate in front of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. (Photo: Narayan Mahon / The New York Times)
The right is riding high, but workers and progressives may finally realize that change happens through collective action, not electoral politics.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker did not win the June 5 recall vote because a parade of Daddy Warbucks stuffed his suit full of six-figure checks. The Democratic challenger Tom Barrett did not lose because he raised a scant $4 million to Walker’s $30 million war chest.
Walker won because he had a vision, however brutish, and he forged a rich-poor alliance that supports it. Barrett lost because he stood for nothing, because the Democrat Party shuns organized labor, because labor retreats from street politics even when they have the upper hand and because progressives confuse elections with movements.
The right threw resources into Scott Walker’s anti-union fight, while the Democratic party stood by. That’s a recipe for defeat.
Wednesday 6 June 2012 10.16 EDT
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker waves as he celebrates his victory in the recall election against Democratic challenger Tom Barrett. Photograph: Darren Hauck/Reuters
Forget the old saw, “All politics is local.” There is a kettle’s worth of tea leaves to read in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s triumph over Democratic challenger Tom Barrett. The acrimonious 5 June recall election is a perilous omen for President Barack Obama’s re-election bid and a faltering labor movement.
Upon taking office in January 2011, Walker went gunning for public sector unions and social programs. He inadvertently ignited six weeks of animated protests as hundreds of thousands of people flooded the Capitol of Madison, eager to stick a wrench in Walker’s plans to turn the clock back on public healthcare, education and labor organizing.
Since the “Wisconsin uprising” began, the Tea Party movement and organized labor have clashed in three separate state-wide elections. Republicans snagged a critical state supreme court post in April 2011. That August, the GOP clung to a razor-thin majority in the state senate by holding four of six seats up for recall. Having pummeled the Democrats again, by a 53-46% margin, Walker and the right are riding high. The only bright spot for Democrats is that they appear to have captured one of four state senate seats, giving them a 17-16 majority.