If you live in Wisconsin, you'd have to work pretty hard not to notice that we have a big election next Tuesday. Republican Governor Scott Walker is up for recall. Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch will also be on the ballet, along with four Republican state senators in their respective districts, but Walker is clearly the big fish here.
It took a lot of work just to get this far. Weeks of massive, peaceful protests last year drew, briefly, the attention of the national news (and this was months before Occupy Wall Street began, I might add.) Between November 15, 2011 and January 15, 2012, volunteers across the state collected nearly twice as many signatures as we needed to trigger the recall. It really felt like we were rolling.
But now, for some reason, though Walker's approval rating is still pretty low, he's 7 points ahead in the polls against his democratic challenger, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett. This isn't a huge lead, but it exceeds the margin of error by 3 points. This has me worried. I'm not sure if this says more about Walker's perceived success as Wisconsin governor or lack of enthusiasm for Tom Barrett. Barrett lost to Walker already in the fall of 2010, and he's not really a whole lot more exciting now than he was then.
But he's not Scott Walker, and that's the whole point. I have an extensive list of complaints against Scott Walker. I fundamentally disagree with nearly all of his policies and his ideology and everything he stands for. He's gutted education on every level, slashed healthcare funding for people who can least afford it on their own, eliminated equal pay protection for women, trashed environmental protections, and rendered public employee unions impotent. Walker's policies alone, terrible as they are, are not the main reason he should be recalled, though. The main reason I support this recall, the reason I want Walker out now, rather than waiting out this term and trying to elect someone else next time around, is because he went about this in a way that deeply divided our state and completely demoralized thousands of workers. He was dishonest and sneaky, as were his ultra-conservative colleagues in the state leg when they resorted to unconstitutional tactics to push their piece of shit legislation through when they knew it would never make it in a regular session.
Next Tuesday I am voting for Tom Barrett because I want Scott Walker out of office asap. If Barrett wins, and I sincerely hope he does, I hope he can start to mend the wounds inflicted upon the Wisconsin public in the last 16 months. It's time to heal.