July 16, 2012 in Monica Frede
By Monica Frede
I will never forget what my dad told me the night my high school basketball team won the Wisconsin Division I State Championship: “you’ll appreciate this more as time goes on.” At the time, I didn’t think that was possible, but thirteen years later, he was right (as usual). Today I marvel at what my team accomplished because I understand what a rare opportunity it was to play with such talented female athletes, but also because we overcame so many obstacles in order to cut down those nets.
Such victories grow sweeter with time. And over time we will marvel about what took place in Wisconsin on June 5, 2012. Sure, we reelected Scott Walker in a heated recall election, and I don’t intend to re-hash the significance of this victory here, but it’s worth noting what the fiscally-responsible voters overcame, because we will need the same exertion and ardor on a national scale to overcome SCOTUS’s constitutional illusion on taxation come November.
TRUTH BEARS REPEATING. AGAIN.
Votes have consequences. But who says the consequences must be a slap in the face to conservatism? In eighteen months, Wisconsin voters mandated, then re-mandated, a leader that campaigned on fiscal responsibility and limited government. And here is a synopsis of what we put up with in the process:
Governor Scott Walker proposed Act 10 on February 11, 2011. The budget bill was aimed at overcoming the state’s $137 million deficit from the current budget, and by eliminating collective bargaining rights from public-sector unions, communities would now have the ability to adjust revenue by placing competition and authority in the driver’s seat. Hell broke loose on February 12.
Paid protestors and flustered fraternities descended on the Wisconsin State Capitol building within hours. With greasy hair, sleeping bags, drums, banjos, air horns and guitars, the protestors lived in the Capitol’s rotunda singing songs devoted to world peace and human rights. They craftily created a human peace sign, captured perfectly in a photograph displayed on the front page of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s website. For weeks, news crews captured their passionate songs and chants that drowned out legislative meetings taking place only a few feet away behind closed doors.
Protestors pushed against the closed doors of the senate chambers, pounding with their fists and shouting about injustices. Other protestors sat in front of the main entrance to the chambers, preventing republican senators from entering; the senators were forced to enter a separate doorway, walking between police officers holding back the rabid crowd.
Speaking from the second-level of the capitol rotunda, Jesse Jackson led the impassioned crowd in a rendition of “We Shall Overcome.” Teachers received fake sick notes written by doctors excusing them from their jobs so they could partake in the festivities, and some even brought their students with them—a nod to alternative education by demonstrating social activism, and apparently, medical fraud.
On February 13, 2011, Republicans called for a vote on the Budget Repair Bill. Fourteen senate democrats, out of ideas (or principles), fled to Illinois and outside of the jurisdiction of state authorities, and remained at “undisclosed locations” for 26 days. Legislative leaders were forced to put off the vote, urging the senators to return to Wisconsin to “do their jobs.” Assembly democrats wore orange t-shirts with “Assembly Democrats for Working Families” printed across the front in bold, black letters—an act of solidarity with their fleeing friends.
Because 20 senators of the 33-member house are required to pass a fiscal bill, the “fleeing fourteen” left only 19 voting senate members at the capitol. Democrats hoped that by postponing the vote, the pressure of local union organizations and protestors would force Walker to negotiate. Senator Chris Larson of Milwaukee said, “It was pretty obvious they [republican senators] weren’t going to listen to the thousands of people protesting.” Yes, that was correct.
Instead of waiting for vacationing senators to return to work, Walker’s assembly called for a vote on the bill on March 9. Even in the hours before the assembly voted, local school districts called emergency school board meetings to extend current teacher contracts, effectively nullifying the budget repair bill’s effects for school districts. The assembly voted. Protestors were enraged. The bill passed.
As quickly as the bill passed, activists demanded the recall of Scott Walker. The recall effort officially began on November 15, 2011, and on January 17, 2012, United Wisconsin, the coalition that spearheaded the recall effort along with the Democratic Party, announced that they had collected one million signatures, far exceeding the 540,208 required.
Fraud ran rampant during the days of the recall drive. Four nuns were caught signing the recall petition twice.
Donald Duck, Adolf Hitler, out-of-state activists, 25 journalists and 29 circuit court judges also signed the petitions.
Governor Walker requested that the Governmental Accountability Board certify the signatures gathered due to numerous reports of fraud, but a Dane County judge denied his request. Another Dane County judge, David Flanagan, issued a temporary restraining order on March 6 against Walker’s new voter ID law, right after he signed the petition. Because of his restraining order, the voter ID law would not be in effect for the recall election. Of course not.
Facebook provided an extended soap box to the impassioned youth who “stand with the teachers.” Innuendos ensued— the under-appreciation of teachers, lachrymose for hard-working middleclass families thrown under the proverbial bus, and iconic images of the blue fist—which AFL-CIO explains as an image “of solidarity and strength not only for the Wisconsin union movement but for the global struggle for social justice and democracy”– flooded the social media site for months. But the same crowd felt no compassion for Scott Walker’s sons who were also targeted with cruel comments. Of course not.
During the petition push, public-sector unions raised $17.6 million from state and national union organizations, and many protesters were paid to continue their foot battle right through election night. The governor’s family was targeted daily by an irate union supporter who shouted and honked his car horn outside of the family’s private residence. Lawmakers shouted “Shame!” at their republican counterparts entering and leaving the capitol each day.
Unions threatened and boycotted local businesses for supporting Walker, or for simply refusing to post pro-union propaganda visible to their clientele. The protestors caused $270,000 in damage to the state capitol building over the course of their stay (that is what democracy looks like?).
The recall election took place on June 5. Walker was the third governor in U.S. history to be recalled—and the first to survive. Rachel Maddow was stunned. Ed Schultz felt the same, befuddled that a man “who could be indicted in a couple of days” would win the election. CNN interviewed a distraught protestor who claimed, through impassioned tears, that the end of democracy—and the U.S— was upon us.
The voters won. Regardless of money, pressure, national labor organizations, biased media coverage, cheating, activist judges, distrustful politicians or misinformation, the voters won. We did it once this year and we can do it again. Repealing ObamaCare—and Obama— are much higher stakes for our nation, but regardless of the jeopardous policy, the jeopardous opponent remains the same. Time to lace up, folks. We can celebrate once we repeat.