Friday, March 11, 2011

Will Wisconsin recall to recall?

I've posted previously about the difficulty in securing enough proper signatures on recall petitions.  The one recall that everyone is making the most noise about is that of Governor Walker.  But the problem with the recall of Governor Walker is that the process can't even get started until November 5, 2011.  (Every Wisconsin politician is given one year to screw things up unfettered by worries over a recall effort.) The earliest that recall petitions can be filed with the Government Accountability Board for his recall is January 3, 2012.

So here is what the Governor has going for himself with that kind of delay:

First, in our age of 24 hour news cycles and preoccupation with important things like Charlie Sheen's tiger blood and Lindsay Lohan's latest incarceration, we are going to be moving onto the next "New New Thing" many many times over the months ahead.  Rachel Maddow will lose interest in the Wisconsin union-busting issue, The Ed Show will lose interest in the issue, many of the electorate upset over recent events will lose interest in the issue. (Hell, I can see myself beginning to tune back into UEFA Champions League Soccer on Fox Soccer channel again.  Fox isn't all bad.) The Governor is counting on all this.  It is the likely reason the union-busting part of his agenda had to be rushed through the legislature right away.  So what if he threw some of the Republican senators subject to immediate recall efforts under the bus? 

Second, the economy is clearly on the upswing in Wisconsin.  Oshkosh Truck and Marinette Marine are scaling up big time with new huge defense contracts.  The inventory bubble is behind us, banks are slowly lending again, and companies are pulling laid-off employees back into service.  The savings accounts of the middle class have been ramped up enough since the Great Recession of ought eight that people will get back into buying larger ticket items, which will help create new jobs.  Businesses will start seeing that they can't further increase productivity without new capital investments, and so there will be new equipment and machinery being purchased.  All of this is going to make Scott Walker look like he is a promise-keeper on job creation, even though he was lucky to become governor when things were already steadily improving, and reaped the benefits of President Obama's stimulus efforts and QE1 and 2 (except that high-speed rail thingy).  He and his supporters will break their arms patting themselves on their backs about the success that flowed from the budget repair effort, and balancing the budget. (Albeit that the backs of the poorest of our citizens, teachers, other public workers and parents writing tuition checks to the UW System are shouldering a heavy load; fair disclosure: my wife and I fall into this last category.)  The growth in the state economy will all be portrayed as the natural product of his brilliant plans for improving Wisconsin. Incomes in the private sector will improve.  The dismal results in K-12 education will not have been measured yet.  Many people will buy into this meme.

Third, with Governor Walker and the Fitzgeralds having control over the purse strings, and having, in all likelihood, cut spending far deeper than future state revenues  really require (given the upswing in the economy), there is going to be spare money to be handed out in the future, through new spending initiatives, to win friends and influence people, or at least anesthetize some of the now upset electorate.  If a recall seems imminent, don't look for these excess revenues to be put in a rainy day fund. 

Fourth, the same nice folks that helped pay for Candidate Walker's campaign in 2010 will throw their not inconsiderable financial heft into rewriting the events of February and March 2011 in a flood of anti-recall ads. Air enough of those ads and we will all start thinking back to those horrific days when out-of-state union thugs roamed the streets of Madison pushing over baby carriages and senior citizens using walkers and 22 caliber bullets found their way to various locations around the Capitol.   Fox News will recirculate remarkable footage of "Cairo in the Heartland." 

Fifth, the union-busting effort will have had the desired impact on the middle-class, and many people will necessarily be more preoccupied with just getting by.  Perhaps the firemen and policemen, having seen how effective the Governor and Fitzgeralds were at cutting the other public workers off at their knees, will not be as inclined to ramp up their effort to help fight for recall. 

Sixth, the argument will be advanced (not illogically) that recall should be reserved for only the most heinous kinds of conduct contrary to the will of the electorate, and not for merely pursuing a political agenda that the electorate brought about by an election.  "Aaaa, let's just wait two and a half more years, and vote him out next time he runs," will be the thinking of many who may be incensed right now.

Seventh, it will be easy to play dirty tricks to invalidate or prevent recall petition signatures.  "Oh, I signed this petition when one of your other canvassers came through our neighborhood two weeks ago."

Eighth, having accomplished his principal aim of limiting the effectiveness of public unions to fight against his party's agenda and future electoral chances, Governor Walker will be able to switch into magnanimous mode, and start making state-wide appearances again without running the risk of his ears burning quite so much.

Ninth, the weather will be cold, damp and snowy when canvassers are walking neighborhoods around the state in November and December.  Unless, of course, that global warming stuff isn't the hoax the far right says it is.

Tenth, 540,000 valid signatures is a big honking number.

Down the road a bit I will talk about possible ways to overcome these problems.

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