Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Walker Win

The Wisconsin recall failed Tuesday leaving Scott Walker in place after the democrats tried to use the recall system to get him removed! While conservatives fill their cups with liberal tears this week everyone asks what it really means.

What does it mean?

The Left
If you are a democrat here's what you think it means:

  1. The Republican Money Machine is dangerous! Scott Walker raised 33 million compared to his opponent's 3 million. Republican donors--most of whom were out of state donate--and a lot. Romney is going to get to Scrooge McDuck in his lavish campaign funds this fall!
  2. Hey, we got a recall on the books--that's hard to do: it's a symbolic victory! Well, yes--but then you lost ...
  3. It's Obama's fault! He didn't throw in--he just did ... like ... one tweet ... WHERE'S THE LEADERSHIP!?
  4. It means unions are fucked. No living wage. Police officers, firemen, and school teachers will starve in the streets. One of the key things that touched off the firestorm was when Walker went after public unions' collective bargaining power.
The Right
If you are a Republican, here's what you think it means:
  1. Hawww-Hawww.
  2. And just wait until the Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare.
  3. The people of Wisconsin like a leader and hate unions.
  4. His plan is working! Homeowners taxes went down by like 700.00 per year--that's like stimulus isn't it!? 
  5. Obama's gonna get hammered in the fall. It's 2010 all over again.
What Do I Think?
Nate Silver makes a case it's not 2010 all over again (Governor elections can be the opposite of presidential ones)--and to be sure the Republicans will not have a 10:1 money advantage in the fall regardless of what happens.

I think it would have been asking a bit much for a presently-embattled Obama to dive into local politics where he wasn't likely to win--I'm not sure Obama's endorsement would make much difference and the optics of Team Obama getting squashed in Wisconsin wouldn't be good. There's at least one poll that shows Obama way up in Wisconsin--why play bumper cars with your momentum?

Here's what I really think: police and firemen--less so teachers--complaining about union busting is fundamentally compelling to voters. You may have it in the back of your mind that your 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Pearson goes into cryogenic storage during the summer but when Officer Friendly starts saying he's upset about local politics you figure he's the only thing separating you from the animals. That got a lot of attention and outrage. 

A year later? Those fires had cooled. So long as the police and fire fighters don't all walk off the job they go back to being invisible to you (kinda). So I think that some of the key drivers were at play there. Unions are almost religious institutions for some (the unionized--or those with jobs that heavily benefit from unions). For people not in unions (88% of Americans) it's a bit more of a mystery. We've all heard, for example, how the UAW strangles the American Automotive sector like one of those vines that chokes a tree to death. True? Not exactly (it has a lot more to do with pensions--and catastrophically longer life expectancy for retired union workers--than the cost of a new car) but it's also not exactly false either. Like everything, it's more complicated than that.

So Walker's recall, on the ground, wasn't driven by the same "booster rockets" that launched it (my take). If his fiscal policy was showing progress then it seems likely he'd be hard to beat.

The Indictment
Apparently there is legal action that may or may not be brought to bear against Walker for campaign finance shenanigans. To be honest, I've had a hard time finding out exactly what this is about and I'm not that interested. As near as I can tell: a donor to the campaign (a railroad) encouraged employees to give to Walker's campaign and then reimbursed them. Illegal--but in the decade of Super PACs? Eh. 

Still, if he does go down for this it'll leave a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths. I don't give it much chance (if that's the real indictment) since linking the actions of the railroad to the Walker campaign is going to be tenuous. There's also something about private email networks--also "eh." I'll have to do some deeper digging to see if there's anything there. 

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