The moment is almost here. June 5th is the day. It’s recall day in Wisconsin for one of the most destructive, anti-democratic governors in the history of our country.
While much currently maligned by the Right (the same folks who threatened to impeach Obama for birth certificate nonsense), recalls go back to the birthplace of democracy, ancient Athens. The fight to recall a governor is enormous, provided your state even allows it (cautionary tale regarding staying home on election day). Only two governors have ever been successfully recalled. A third was going to be recalled, but he was impeached and convicted before it got on the ballot.
So, see, even getting here, even managing to qualify for a recall is an enormous achievement. This victory belongs to the people of Wisconsin, who never gave up. In their long fight, they along with neighboring states (Ohio, Michigan and others) inspired the rest of the nation to fight back. They led the way forward to reclaiming the voices of the people.
Let’s pay tribute to the reasons why they’ve fought so hard, by taking a glance back at the Scott Walker memory book of systemic corruption.
Scott was found guilty of illegal campaigning while in college and the local paper, that had previously been neutral, finally declared Scotty “unfit for Presidency.”
And then there’s the Nixonian secrecy, paranoia and over sensitivity about his failure to compete in the free market of education. He refused to release his transcripts (so much for transparency). He had an uninspiring GPA. We don’t know whether it was his low grade point average or his illegal activities that drove him to drop out.
Wisconsin senate Republicans rammed through Walker’s union busting bill 18-1 to strip Wisconsin public employees of their collective bargaining rights.
Republicans did so in spite of being warned by Democratic assemblyman Minority Leader Peter Barka that they were violating the state’s open meeting law.
BARCA: No, Mr. Chairman, this is a violation of the open meetings law. It requires 24 — at least 24 hours’ notice. Excuse me.
Naturally, the Republicans completely ignored Barca. The Republicans were warned and still rode rough shod over the Democratic assemblyman Minority Leader’s warnings.
Sadly, it turns out that meeting was just the beginning of the secret meetings and closed doors of the Walker Administration.
On his campaign website, Walker crows about how he kept property taxes from increasing from the year before, but what he carefully doesn’t say is that if the taxes didn’t increase, it’s because the taxpayers paid too much the year before, and the year before that…. To be precise, they paid around 20% more than they should have.
…hundreds of properties in Milwaukee alone (where Walker was the County Executive, a position much like a Governor but on a county level, or like a city manager) are allowed to fall off the tax rolls – properties that claim they are churches, nonprofit hospitals and other organizations that state lawmakers feel shouldn’t have to pay taxes.
Of course, Walker has made higher taxes on the poor and middle class a signature of his governing style, joining his Republican brothers Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney. The justification they use for this rationale is that if the people are not made to suffer and pay for things, they’ll go crazy and demand all kinds of social freebies for themselves.
This has been a fear of the elite ever since ancient Athens, and is one reason why only certain folks were allowed to vote back then. As you can see, under Walker and other Republican governors, we are headed back to those times now due to massive voter disenfranchisement.
Governor Walker’s voter ID law was ruled unconstitutional but not before his administration managed to hide the fact that the voter IDs were supposed to be free, essentially enacting a poll tax on the poor.
Wisconsin DMV’s internal policy was to not tell voters that the voter ID was free unless they specifically requested the free version. The fee waiver is a requirement under the new Voter ID law passed by Republicans last May in Wisconsin, in order to ensure the ID requirement was not an illegal Poll Tax.
“Wisconsin job losses highest in nation for last 12 months, federal report says. The job losses weren’t all public sector. Oh, no. Walker can kill jobs everywhere. Public, private, you name it, Scott Walker can kill it.
To counter the bad jobs numbers, Walker didn’t reassess his policies like a normal person would, because this isn’t about doing what works; it’s about finding a way to justify huge corporate giveaways and giving control of government to corporations. So Walker fudged the numbers.
Koched Up Scott Walker Invents His Own Reality with Deceptive Jobs Numbers
And then there’s the John Doe investigation, which surrounds not all of Walker’s unconstitutional ways of governing, but rather the illegal campaign tactics employed by him while County Executive of Milwaukee and while campaigning for governor. One shudders to think what he’s doing right now that we don’t know about.
Suffice it to say, the investigation surrounding Scott Walker (that he denies is investigating him even though he lawyered up) may top the Nixon scandal in FBI raids of close aides and confidants. I erred the other day when I compared him to Blago. He is more Nixon speed, though certainly Nixon was more intelligent and conscientious than Walker. Nixon actually believed in his cause. Scott Walker is just a puppet.
Aside from campaigning on the taxpayer dime, secretive email systems, violations of Open Meeting Laws, using political power to destroy the other party, violations of campaign finance laws, destruction of digital data, and using taxpayer funded time to spread online favorable propaganda about the governor, Walker’s dealings with a land deal are also of issue.
Milwaukee prosecutors are looking into bid rigging that may have taken place around the county’s efforts to lease public or private office space for the Department of Aging.
And then, after a documentary filmmaker released footage of Walker admitting to a campaign donor that the first step in turning Wisconsin red was busting the unions up, it became clear that Scott Walker lied to Congress while answering questions surrounding the political intentions behind his union busting. Why Scott Walker Must Go: the Endless Parade of Lies
In light of all of this demoralizing shock and awe meant to keep the people so busy surviving that they can’t respond with counter attacks, Wisconsinites manage to not only pull off amazing, inspiring protests, but keep them up.
Reeling from the shock of last night’s suddenly convened Wisconsin state Republicans’ committee meeting and rushed passage of Governor Walker’s stripped down budget bill, to include only revoking collective bargaining rights for unions as well as reductions in pensions, Wisconsin protesters are already lining up outside of the Capitol in Madison in anticipation of early morning rallies.
A year later, and they were still going strong. 35,000 to 1: Protesters Mobilize To Take Down Scott Walker
It’s one year later, but Wisconsin has not forgiven or forgotten. Saturday’s rally was Wisconsin’s usual high energy turn out, but 35,000 people for a rally over an event that happened one year ago is incredible. This is a state that knows how to fight back. Protesters showed up in droves, replete with the Solidarity Singers, who still sing at the Capitol daily. They drummed and chanted, “This is what democracy looks like!” They carried signs reading, “Fire the Liar!”
No matter what happens on June 5, Wisconsinites and indeed all Americans who value the legislative process, checks and balances, transparency in government and fair negotiations have already won.
The day Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans passed a “law” in the dead of night without proper disclosure was a dark mark on our history. It turns out it was also warning sign of things to come.
Illegal use of state troopers to intimidate opposition, barring Democrats and the public from the Capitol during business, and campaigning on the taxpayer’s dime followed. From elections with no confidence to missing ballots to “passing” laws by violating open meeting laws, the Wisconsin Republicans have shown that they have little respect for the law.
June 5th might not be Walker’s downfall. But this is a man whose history tells the story. Way back in college, Walker thought he didn’t have to work hard like everyone else or play by the rules. As County Executive, he did what he pleased – leaving the office stripped bare of records and files his administration was supposed to leave behind.
Cut to his time as Governor, the FBI raids, the convictions of those closest to him, the land deal investigations and the destroyed digital files.
Republicans are backing Walker at their own peril, but this is what happens to a party devoid of values. They’ll do and say anything to justify their corporate agenda.
History won’t be kind to them and no doubt, it won’t be kind to Scott Walker.
In the history books (provided the Republicans don’t win the war on education), the workers, the teachers, the police, the artists, the farmers, and everyone who protested the reign of Scott Walker will be portrayed as heroes saving democracy, while Scott Walker and the Republicans will go down as the Nixons of Wisconsin.
Remember Wisconsin, you gave it your all. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.