Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wisconsin Recall Elections - A recap

It looks as if both sides think they did well in the Wisconsin Recall Elections. I think the Tea Party did well. Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos thinks that Progressives did well. That’s a good thing isn’t it, in this period of rancor and distrust? Both sides did well.

The argument, promoted by Progressives, union leaders and the MSM, has been that the Tea Party legislators are backed by a small minority of Americans. The legislators managed to win seats in an off-year election and, when in office, acted irresponsibly and against the will of the majority of the electorate. The Wisconsin electorate, it has been argued, is horrified by the actions of Governor Walker and the State Legislature and are attempting to right a wrong.

This time, it is argued, the people are not caught unawares; this time the people will stand up and remove the hateful ideologues who are plaguing their great state. Millions of dollars were raised as well as tens of millions of dollars worth of volunteer labor from Wisconsin labor and progressives and their supporters in the neighboring states of Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

What was the end result? Democrats managed to recall the elections of just 6 of the19 Republican State Senators. And after millions of dollars were spent only 2 of these Republican State Senators were recalled. On the face of it “taking back” 2 seats is very positive for the Democrats who want to “Take Wisconsin Back.” There are several points that modify this position.

First, when you threaten to destroy your opponent if they don’t stop what they’re doing (ending collective bargaining for government workers) and they continue what they’re doing you better deliver on your threat. The Democrats and the Unions did not deliver.

Second, the reason for the recall was supposed to be about the workers' rights and collective bargaining but these points were not the focal point of the Democrat attack ads. In fact these salient points were not mentioned at all.

Third, reviewing the two seats that the Democrats won show that it is even less of a “moral” victory than first meets the eye. One of the Republicans, Dan Kapanke, was a Republican in a Democrat district and was considered to have little chance of winning, the other was scandal plagued. Randy Hopper left his wife and children and moved in with his mistress. If anything it is surprising that this race was so close (51-49).

Fourth, there is no reason to believe that these elections are part of a trend which will shortly remove the hated Governor Walker and other Tea Party Republicans from office. Each of the Republican State Senators facing recall yesterday were in toss-up districts that went for Obama in 2008 – they were not in deep Red districts in which one would not expect a Democrat to win. Next week two Democrats are themselves facing recall elections and it looks as if Jim Holperin will lose, for much the same reason as Kapanke, the Republican, did. He’s a Democrat in a Republican district. The other Democrat seems to be safe – if he is turned then this adventure by the Democrat Party, President Obama, and public unions is nothing less than a complete repudiation of their basic tenant: that smaller, live-within-your-means-without-higher-taxes government is "extreme" and not mainstream.


Anonymous said...

What do you think now that the Democrats held on to all their seats? Are you still gloating that it's a Republican triumph?

The Classical Liberal said...

No gloating. The only thing that matters is the trend line. If Wisconsin returns to Democratic control in 2012 then what happened here is just a blip. If Wisconsin stays Red then we know that the changes are indeed "mainstream."

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