So it seems that the people of Wisconsin have spoken. Scott Walker is still my governor. It's not the ideal outcome in many ways. It leaves me deeply worried about the future of Wisconsin's natural resources for one, and the progressive tradition of the state for two. There's also the fact that regardless of the outcome of this race, my state is now deeply divided and will take decades to heal.
There will be a tremendous amount of spin in the coming days as the Republican political machine works to pin both the cost of the entire recall process and the bitter political mess on the unions and the Democrats. None of these parties are innocent. However divide and conquer politics is a trademark of the Republican party, and they have used those tools with ruthless efficiency in this particular race. They have controlled virtually the entire narrative of this recall process, and they will likely control the narrative in the wake of it.
I do need to say at this point that I'm not actually pro recall as a form of political action. I signed a recall petition because I believed that desperate times called for desperate measures, but on the balance I think that recalls are a really bad way to go about the business of politics.
I also believe that Tom Barrett was not the right man for the job. In fact, he was arguably the ideal candidate for Walker to run against, and hence the worst possible choice to run.
Yet, I voted for him twice. It wasn't ever because I actually believed he was a good candidate, and this was a mistake on my part. I should've voted for LaFollette the first time but I'm not going to hold myself to accounts on it really. That's because I believe the bigger problem with this election involves money and not citizens and their individual votes. In that respect, my failure to vote for LaFollette becomes relatively insignficant.
Furthermore, as bad as Barrett was as a candidate, he would have at least forced a dialogue between the executive and legislative branches of Wisconsin government. No matter how weak he might have been, he would have presented at least a small check on an otherwise highly unbalanced government.
All of this is to say that Wisconsin will now have to live with post recall reality. It's not pretty, although I suppose it could be worse in some respects. Walker's win probably will restabilize the economy in certain respects, although the cost will be terrible and will likely be paid for many years out in the form of poisoned water supplies and a greatly diminished educational system. I hope I'm wrong on these counts, but I have no reason to be optimistic.
Ultimately though, I'm worried for bigger reasons. Wisconsin has been used as a test state for corporate interests seeking an unprecedented degree of unlimited agency in their behavior. Citizens United has been put to the test here today, and the result looks remarkably good for corporatocratic interests. If enough money is mobilized, elections can not only be won, but narratives can be almost completely controlled.
I'm worried, and I'm nervous about the implications of this, but speaking personally, I'm not done fighting.
We have some seriously tough roads ahead, and not just here in Wisconsin, or even America. I believe we have the tools to reclaim democracy as a viable mode of civic participation, but to do so we first need to create awareness about the role money is actually playing in politics. If we fail to do so, the enterprise of democracy in America will fail.
I don't want to see that happen, and as much as the Republican media machine has worked to reframe the term democratic as a pejorative, I don't think that any true American wants to see that happen either.