Wisconsin is now in the midst of a historic political season which is not only the most critical, but also the most contentious in a century. The end goal of this recall is the ousting of Scott Walker – on that every person at the core of this movement can agree. What is less agreeable is the candidate best to run against Scott Walker, and the central issue of the recall.
As for the most prominent candidates – the wisdom and strategy of some early endorsements for Kathleen Falk are still being questioned, but Falk is starting to gain momentum statewide; Tom Barrett is a late entry into the campaign with the most name recognition (and was absent throughout virtually all of the grassroots movement); Kathleen Vinehout is touring the state in a true grassroots campaign; and Doug LaFollette is unfortunately being virtually ignored by state media but has great grassroots appeal.
The first “debate” format was held in Madison (link to the video archive) on Wednesday evening to an enthusiastic, full house at the Concourse Hotel. While the debate in this Democratic primary should (and I believe will) remain civil – it is critical to the movement and democracy that it be contentious. There are marked differences in philosophy and ideology between the candidates, and the very future of our state and nation depends on it. We deserve to have well vetted candidates – the people started this movement, and it is the people to whom the next Governor must answer to.
While the race is on, there are obviously powerful forces at work on both sides – Democratic and Republican. The danger in this political climate is for this movement to not only be hijacked by party politics and inherent money and power; but to wane into complacency post-election and a Walker defeat. The only way to prevent this is to engage in a spirited debate this primary – and keep at the fore what this recall is all about.
Scott Walker and his allies have continually over-reached in blatant power grabs, ended collective bargaining rights recognized in EVERY OTHER civilized nation on earth, cut public education funding at record levels (the result of which will become clear as Federal emergency funding runs out this fiscal year for most districts – we haven’t begun to see the effects); attacked women’s rights; made health care for women, the poor and children less accessible; engaged in the most partisan political patronage in a century…the list goes on and on. All these alone are valid reasons for recall, and have taken Wisconsin back to an age not seen in generations. All of the above reasons are symptoms of a larger issue – one that lies at the core, and should keep this grassroots movement growing to the recall of Scott Walker, election of a new Governor in 2012, and progressive movement forward again in Wisconsin for generations.
This is all manifestation of one great struggle – the supreme issue, above all others, is the encroachment of the powerful few upon the rights of the many. Union busting is the assertion of the capital of a select few as being superior to labor – something Abraham Lincoln rejected in his first State of the Union. The power and money of multinational monopolies and corporations (i.e. Koch Industries) have come between the people and their government. The resolution of this recall will be the answer to the great questions facing us:
Can we free ourselves from this control and restore our representative form of government?
Can we begin to repair this damage with a new politic and legislation, or will our children and grandchildren inherit the plutocracy and disenfranchisement being created by the corporate political powers?
There is no higher call today than this protracted fight for social justice.
To continue the debate and further the progression of grassroots politic, Badger Democracy will not engage in endorsing a candidate. Instead, extensive interviews have and continue to be conducted with all candidates and will be posted along with a profile and record examination of each candidate. The people should decide. In that spirit, closing remarks from Robert M. (“Fighting Bob”) LaFollette from a 1912 speech in Philadelphia addressing a similar struggle against the “Robber Barons” of early twentieth century industry and banking:
“…We will, in our day, meet our responsibility with fearlessness and faith; that we will reclaim and preserve for our children, not only the form but the spirit of our free institutions. And in our children must we rest our hope for the ultimate democracy.”
Our fight is for the future…never forget.