Many are saddened that Governor Scott Walker survived his recall in Wisconsin. I am saddened because it sends the wrong message to those who would continue to cut state budgets. I am saddened because it sends the wrong message to those that think worker unions are a problem. I am most saddened however that liberals and progressives seem disillusioned as opposed to taking this loss as a learning experience.
First note the following are absolutely true.
- Walker's win is a successful referendum on the politicians and judges who support Citizens United, which wiped out Wisconsin's campaign finance laws and allowed him to raise unlimited amounts of campaign cash from corporate donors outside Wisconsin.
- Walker's win tonight is a local example of an election getting bought and paid for by the highest corporate bidder. When corporate cash can drown out the voices of regular voters like it did here, it should worry anyone who cares about our democracy.
- That said, this recall election was about Wisconsin's working families standing up to Walker for his anti-worker agenda. And they did just that -- the incredible number of recall petition signatures collected, the volunteers recruited, the phones called, and the doors knocked are all proof.
- This is a fight for the future of our middle class, and everyone who's fighting on the side of working families should be proud to be in it. And as long as working families need someone looking out for their interests, labor unions will be there for them.
- Campaign spending on the Wisconsin recall election will total at least $60 million -- the most expensive in Wisconsin history -- $50 million of it spent by or on behalf of Gov. Scott Walker.
- With the final amounts likely to be much higher, Walker has received $30 million in direct campaign contributions, mostly from big donors outside Wisconsin.
- In contrast, his challenger Mayor Tom Barrett has raised $4 million, with most of his contributions coming in small-dollar amounts from Wisconsin residents. This means that Barrett was outspent by Walker by 8 to 1.
- Gov. Scott Walker directly benefited from the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which weakened Wisconsin's campaign finance laws and allowed him to raise and spend unlimited amounts of campaign money. Due to a loophole in state law, Walker could also raise unlimited amounts from individual donors while Barrett faced a hard cap on the dollar amount of contributions.
- The effort to recall Walker from office was also driven by Wisconsin grassroots, who gathered a million signatures for the recall -- double the number needed.
- Walker's agenda to rig the system against working families includes rigging the vote to keep it that way:
- He pushed through voter ID laws and confusing residency requirements meant to make it harder for Democratic-leaning voters to cast a ballot. Even though the voter ID law had been declared unconstitutional and thus not supposed to be in effect on election day, law-abiding voters with valid registrations were still turned away from the polls today.
- His campaign allies jammed the phones at the Barrett campaign so they couldn't make phone calls out to voters who needed poll location and voter registration info.
- People canvassing for the Walker campaign and robo-calls from Walker allies misled anti-Walker voters into believing that they didn't need to vote if they signed the petition to recall the governor.
Inasmuch as all of the above is true those facts really meant nothing to the 53% of voters that voted for Scott Walker. Facts are not enough. Facts and personalization are. The Scott Walker media machine was able to create a narrative however false that made all those voters eager to vote and most of them voted against their own interest. They did not do this because they are stupid. They did this because progressives and liberals failed to reach them. Many times we preach to the choir and in that adulation we think we are succeeding more than we really are.
This election taught us or have reinforced that our misinformation media machines will spend millions to misinform and that absent progressive personalization said misinformation is generally successful. We know we will not get to all those that were misinformed. What we can do is concentrate on the necessary sub-sections of districts around the country to make a difference in the next election. After winning we must ensure that we get good policies effected. Effected good policies that help the middle class is the best personalization we can provide to our fellow citizens that will in the long run cauterize them against their continuous votes against their own interests.
So all should lift their heads up high. Get some rest. Then continue to work as hard as you can for the middle class, your fellow American citizens.