Ken’s Take on the World

The Price of Victory
June 6, 2012, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Politics

Congratulations to Scott Walker of Wisconsin who was able to survive a recall election and remain Governor of the Badger state.  The pundits will debate about this means for Republican governors across the country who wish to implement drastic reforms in order to address structural budget deficits while attempting to erode the collective bargaining rights of workers.  They will also debate the implications for President Obama and for Democrats in general.  I will leave these debates to the talking heads on radio and TV.


Personally, I am more concerned about the price of Governor Walker’s victory and how it was obtained.  The recall election is the first major election following the US Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United.  I believe it is important for all of us, as Americans, to pay attention to what happened in the great state of Wisconsin.  Wisconsin, for many years, was a leader on progressive issues from worker protection to non-discrimination.  Since 2010, however, and the election of Governor Walker, legislative behavior has taken on a decidedly regressive tack.  The Governor has significantly rolled back collective bargaining rights and scrapped equal pay provisions for women.  Anti-abortion provisions are percolating through the Republican-controlled legislature and the Governor has indicated he would like to implement major corporate tax cuts which will have to be balanced on workers.  He has slashed education budgets for both K-12 and higher education and has consistently spoken about how public teachers are to blame for everything that ails the public education system.


After draconian legislation curtailing the ability of workers to bargain collectively was signed into law, a recall effort was initiated that garnered enough signatures to proceed.  This effort was, primarily, a grassroots effort.  It coincided with massive protests at the state capitol that were viewed throughout the nation as a symbol of what happens when you tread on the working men and women who have made our nation so great.  More than a million signatures were presented and validated.  More than enough to warrant a special election.


And, then, the money started rolling in.  Billionaire financial backers of Scott Walker’s agenda poured money into his campaign to hold onto his office.  Labor unions and working class individuals tried to finance the campaign of Mr. Walker’s challenger, the Mayor of Milwaukee, but the flood of money from outside sources, including the Koch brothers, proved, in the end to be too much.  Granted, Mr. Walker did lead in every reputable poll against his opponent.  It should be noted, however, that Mr. Walker’s team spent almost a whopping $27 million dollars more than his opponent in this election!  This was the most expensive election in Wisconsin state history!  This should serve as a warning to all patriotic Americans that the wealthy elites are able to, essentially, purchase an elected office.  The question every American should ask is, “What is the quid pro quo for the office?”  Are those with the greatest wealth acting out of a sense of altruism that by electing a particular person every citizen will benefit?  I am strongly disinclined to believe this.  Instead, I believe the intent is to ensure an elected official is in office who will serve to protect their personal interests and, more importantly, act to preserve or increase the benefactor’s personal wealth.


In light of the Citizens United ruling, any wealthy individual (or group) can privately fund a candidate for elected office.  This is, most definitely, not the intention of our founders.  It was intended, at our nation’s founding, that each person should have an equal voice in selecting our representatives.  Instead, it is the most wealthy among us (and, perhaps, even from other countries) that are selecting the people’s representatives.  This should make us each pause and consider, what is the price of victory?


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