Scott Walker and the GOP have made it perfectly clear that when it comes to keeping their crusade alive, the end justifies the means. Amongst threats of violence against recall volunteers from out-of-state area codes (Minnesota), Walker has refused to comment or condemn the threats. Posts by right-wing aligned groups on Facebook threatening to collect, then destroy petitions; and a “drive-by” petition theft prompted a stern press release from the GAB reminding Wisconsinites that defacing or destroying recall petitions is a Class I Felony. One Wisconsin Now held a press conference Tuesday, with Scot Ross announcing a $10,000 reward for information leading to conviction for destruction of a recall petition. Charlie Sykes and Media Trackers even went so far as to disseminate incorrect information about the ages of two petition signers, in an effort to characterize the effort as an unmitigated fraud. Both Sykes and Media Trackers backed off their claims, when confronted with photos released to local media confirming the ages of the two signers.
The sense of panic on the part of the GOP in Wisconsin is palpable. The initial response to the petition drive has exceeded expectations. In Wisconsin, the tide is turning – which means the time to call out the GOP and push the recall effort to the finish is now. In the midst of the Walker recall, the GOP is laying the groundwork to execute a last stand for power in Wisconsin, and it will be at the polls – attempting a takeover of the electoral process to secure their one-party rule.
The power grab and disenfranchisement of thousands of minority voters through the hastily-passed Voter ID Act laid the foundation for controlling voter turnout. This electoral restriction continues with the redistricting lines drawn by Jim Troupis for the GOP. How do you disenfranchise 12,000 Hispanic voters in Waukesha? Divide them into Districts where they vote with Brookfield, New Berlin, Mukwonago, Menominee Falls, and Palmyra – because one of the fastest growing ethnic populations in Wisconsin can’t possibly deserve their own representation. They have more in common with Rich Zipperer, don’t they? Waukesha County politics are indicative of the effect single party rule is having on Wisconsin.
New developments indicate the GOP is looking to electoral control as their new lynch pin of power. Just as the power grab started with ending collective bargaining; it appears the end game for the radical right is elections.
As the redistricting process is now being heard in Federal Court, several Republican citizens (“operatives” – one ran unsuccessfully against Mark Radcliffe – D – Black River Falls, for Assembly in 2010) have asked the State Supreme Court to make new Districts effective for any recall election immediately, instead of in 2012, as the law intends. Although this would not have an effect on a Gubernatorial Recall, it would effect a potential Senate recall. There are currently four GOP State Senators facing recall – Fitzgerald, Galloway, Moulton, and VanWaangard. This suit, in essence, looks to take the case out of Federal Court and have it be decided as a state issue only – one that would be decided in the Republican-controlled (although supposedly “non-partisan”) State Supreme Court.
The Republicans will also take advantage of a seldom used law to control the political alignment of poll workers in upcoming 2012 elections. The GOP will submit a roster of names to County Clerks around the state for selection by the clerks. The poll workers must be selected from that list, and correspond proportionately with the number of votes received by each party in the previous General Election for Governor or President. Under this process, the GOP may control the majority of poll workers in many municipalities statewide.
Even after a scathing investigative report, the GAB has decided to allow Kathy Nickolaus to oversee the effective training for election workers in Waukesha County – and would oversee any subsequent recall election. In an email to Badger Democracy, Reid Magney (GAB spokesman) stated that Ms. Nickolaus has met the necessary requirements to perform this training.
While the radical right and GOP supporters attempt to distract with recall shenanigans, there is something much larger and devious afoot. Walker and his ilk have the foundation in place to attempt an electorate “coup”, if you will. In the coming weeks, the battle will be fought primarily in the courts – in courtrooms presided over by an elected Judiciary. And that is a good thing for Democracy.
The key, therefore, is a massive display of recall passion – and signatures. Even the State Supreme Court is an elected body. Subject not only to a non-partisan election every ten years; but to the same recall laws which govern Scott Walker. The message sent with the recall must be so overwhelming, that it reverberates to every Legislator and Supreme Court Justice who would potentially stand in the way of the Will of the People, and what is Just for Wisconsin.
One Million signatures. That should be the goal – ignoring any forecasts, reports, or predictions. In this situation, they are meaningless. The only message that Progressives must send through this effort is “We the People will be heard, and we will have a progressive state government – not a corporatic plutocracy.” There is no elected official who would dare stand in the way of a Freight Train of Democracy bearing down with one million signatures on a recall petition for a sitting Governor.
The tide is turning, indeed. In the power-hungry, ideological crusade that Scott Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch, The Fitzgeralds, Robin Vos, et al. are engaged in, however – the end will always justify the means. We must guard our electoral process through an overwhelming display of unity in the recall effort, our demonstrations, then at the polls.
Spread the word – Solidarity!