Update – Over the weekend of 7/15, Rep. Mark Pocan and Sen. Mark Miller announced the drafting of a bill which would restore Colective Bargaining Rights for Wisconsin Public Employees. This is a great first step, and should be embraced by every Democratic Candidate invololved in recall elections, and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
This week, social media networks lit up with pushback in response to a signal from Wisconsin Democrats – that there is growing interest in planning the Scott Walker recall to coincide with the November 2012 General Election. Scott Walker’s poll numbers continue to plummet into historic lows, and interest in the recalls is intensifying. The people of Wisconsin are becoming more engaged in the process - mostly due to grassroots, volunteer efforts. That passion and energy is supporting the poll numbers, speaking to an early recall. There has also been a tremendous amount of feedback from a very “Democrat-style” tactic – distancing themselves from the Unions when it really matters. This at a time when unity, organization, and mobilization of large numbers of people are required – something the unions proved more than capable of in February and March. The Democratic Party distancing themselves from unions has made easy fodder for Conservative talk shows like Vicky McKenna, who ranted about that very topic – stating that the Democrats’ behavior validates what Republicans have been saying about Unions all along, that “they are thugs.” In essence, these issues reflect on a blog written by Badger Democracy on May 22, 2011, calling for leadership and unity in this unprecedented time. On June 23, a senior member of Mike Tate’s office contacted Badger Democracy and asked to discuss recall communication moving forward. I replied the same day, followed up with a phone call one week later, and have yet to speak with anyone from the State Democratic Party. Other local Democrat officials and activists share the same experiences. As progressives, we must move forward – here is how (are you listening, Democrats?):
Listen to the people on the ground, throughout the state. Listen to people on the ground, in the state, and give the people a coherent, transparent, simple message that is factual. Embrace the recalls as the Constitutional means to right that which is wrong. This Administration has walked a legal tightrope, as has the Legislature in a blatant power grab. The budget is a lie. Regular, working people will be harmed by this administration’s actions. Keep it simple and get the message and resources to your local leaders to spread it – NOW. There are opportunities to utilize social media, grassroots canvassing, and direct communication of a coherent message that is being missed. The people are still looking for a consistent, actionable message from someone…months into the process.
Unite with the people who got you here. Over 100,000 people rallied at the Capitol in support of Worker’s Rights. In spite of the twisted message from the neo-cons, Collective Bargaining is a globally recognized human right. The United Nations recognizes it as such, as do most other developed nations. Stand with the worker’s who have stood for you. If you don’t have the facts to counter the propaganda of the GOP, here they are. There are facts to counter fiscal propaganda here, as well – including the myth that public workers are robbing taxpayers with their exorbitant salaries and benefits. If you need a reminder, here are 4 basic reasons to stand with the Unions:
1. Unions represent real working people, who vote on their leadership, and have a vested interest in well-trained, well-educated, well paid jobs that create more jobs and keep local businesses thriving – not moving overseas.
2. Unions offer another balance against the “Robber Baron” mentality of profit at any cost, above all else – even human cost, and quality of life.
3. In the era of “Citizens United” and Corporate takeover of the political system – Unions are the last, organized resistance and opposition to endless monies flowing into GOP coffers – to buy elections, influence, power, and legislation (ALEC/Koch).
4. Unions organize hundreds of thousands of people who are real Wisconsinites – not thugs. Remember the people who rallied (and continue to fight) at the Capitol? They started this movement, and continue to this day, in spite of losing their rights on a daily basis.
The Wisconsin Progressive tradition demonstrates the need for us all to stand together against the “Robber Barons” of this new age. The GOP has been expert in dividing us – demonizing teachers, public employees, pitting worker against worker in their effort to consolidate power, money, and influence. The time has come for a leader to stand with Unions, workers, families, and people of Wisconsin holding to the Progressive principle that we truly work together for the people. The obligation of Government is to the betterment of the majority of the people – not the privileged few in power. Standing with the Unions and workers of this state is not only symbolic, it is required in principle as supporting the right of assembly, association, and free speech (see UN resolution in above link).
The means exist to accomplish these ideas – social media, activists, local leadership, networking, grassroots organizations, Unions. The leadership, vision and will is required to execute and support these principles. It is past time for fence-sitting as Scott Walker diminishes our Democracy on a daily basis. If the Democratic Party is unable to lead and unify in this time - Badger Democracy raises the prospect in this public forum (as heard in other forums) of a “Progressive,” or “Labor,” or “Progressive Labor” Party. Perhaps it is time to leave the Democrats from the fold of Barack Obama, who left Wisconsin Workers wondering where he is, who is preparing to sell the middle class down the road of compromise for billionaires…leave those Democrats and Republicans to the Corporatics, and rally a party truly for the people. I leave it to the reader to ponder – and to the Democrats to act.