Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Recall Election

Today, the recall election of Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin happens.  Potential Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan posted on his Facebook that courage is on the ballot today and this election will hinge on turnout.  He urges people to take a stand and reclaim Wisconsin.  Not too long ago, Omaha tried to recall its mayor Jim Suttle because of tax increases.  When I was approached by someone who wanted me to sign the petition to recall the mayor, they stated that we would have the highest sales tax in the state.  I asked how much of this was Mayor Suttle's fault and how much of it was Fahey's fault for building a stadium or the overall economy's fault for loss of revenue.  They did not have an answer.  Additionally, I asked how we were going to pay for a recall election because the costs for the vote just to see if he got recalled was going to be anywhere from $50,000-100,000.  They stated that they did not know.  I told them that I also do not believe in recalling an electied official just because I do not happen to agree with their views politically but rather I would try to seek out the common ground and have an actual discussion about politics.  Again, they told me that my taxes would increase.  I walked away at this point.

Governor Walker is being recalled mainly due to the fact that he ended collective bargaining for state employees.  The campaign between Governor Walker and Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee has been full of half-truths and out-right lies.  PolitiFact has rated 54 claims from the campaign, 34 of them have been rated Pants of Fire, False, or Mostly False. Only seven have been rated true or mostly true.  Here at, A More Perfect Union, we want to hold candidates accountable for their actions but is a recall election really the right way to do it?  I don't believe so unless the elected official has done something totally egregious that merits such a response.  Obviously, there is enough people in Wisconsin who think that the actions of the governor merit some accountability.  But the recall election, has mainly focused on lies or at the very best half-truths from both sides which limits accountability for both politicians.  This is essentially a re-match of the 2010 gubernatorial election which Tom Barrett lost.  I hope that if Tom Barrett wins, that he is not in constant fear of being recalled in much the same way he won the election.  I hope if Walker wins that he is not re-energized as receiving a new mandate.  He was close to being ousted as governor a mere two years in office, perhaps it is time to change.  While elected officials always are gunning for the next election, perhaps this recall election will serve Walker as a realization that there might not be another election if he is elected.  I guess what I'm saying is, I see both sides to the argument of the recall election. I just don't necessarily support the recall election.

Can we learn anything for the national level from this election?  The New York Times political blog "The Caucus" warns that we might not be able to for five reasons:
1. Candidates Matter- this is essentially a rematch of the 2010 election. Voters are given a choice between two men and on November 6, they are given a choice between two very different men.
2. Recalls Feel Wrong-  there has only been two successful governor recalls in the history of America.  One of them involved the governator. But Governor Walker might also benefit from the something that will not happen in November which is that he receives special consideration for being the incumbent. Polls show some voters backing Walker are planning on voting for Obama.
3. Local Issues- Union rights, President Obama has not entered this campaign because he did not want the local issues serving as a backdrop for a national referendum.
4. Money Talks- Barrett is being outspent by Walker 7 to 1.
5. Five More Months- a lot can happen in the next five months.

There are three lessons we can learn though:
1. Organization matters- Obama himself has not been in Wisconsin but Obama for America in Wisonsn has been heavily involved, as well as the Democratic National Committee.  If Barrett wins, it will look very good for Obama.  Reince Preibus, the chair of the Republican National Committee is from Wisconsin and they have been heavily involved.  If Walker wins, it might show that they can match the organization prowess of Obama.
2. Union turnout- One of Obama's big advantages is the labor movement's ability to motivate voters.  They might be able to apply what they learned in this election to go nationwide with it.
3. Economic mood- both sides will look at exit polls to see how the economy is playing out in voters' minds.

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