Ah, victory. The taste is so sweet. Scott Walker beat back what even some Democrats called an ill-advised recall attempt yesterday, and won by a margin of about seven points.
The most important thing about the result was not Scott Walker’s victory, deserved though it was, but the censure it delivered to those who think recall is just another routine political device. It is not. Because of the wisdom of the American people, and the stability of our system, there have been only three recall elections for governors in American history. Recall is a device that undermines democracy. It says, in effect, “We didn’t like the result of the election, so let’s run it again under different rules.” Recall should be restricted to those circumstances where a public official violates the law or his oath of office.
But we must not read too much into yesterday’s results, nor should we engage in the ignorant gloating that can come back to haunt us. The vote was a setback, I think, for public-service unions, who have become too powerful and too arrogant, but I can’t honestly say that it was, or should have been, a setback for labor, organized or not. I think Republicans do themselves an enormous disservice by laughing at the union movement’s loss. Ronald Reagan was a union president. Sarah Palin (looking great in a new makeover) was on Fox last night noting that her husband was a union member, and that she had been a union member. I am a union member, and pleased to be one. Union members, the Reagan Democrats, were an important part of the Reagan Revolution.
There are good unions and bad ones, honest ones and problematical ones. But we are not anti-union. Both political parties are on the record, for decades, in supporting the right of workers to organize. Unions have done some terrific things for working people. Sadly, some unions have also been regressive or overly rigid, and have done harm. May I just point out that there are far more unionized workers than CEOs. Our side should court them, not mock them, as some shallow commentators sometimes do. Reagan taught us well.
There is all manner of speculation today about the meaning of yesterday’s election for November. I don’t think anyone can really know. We do know that Wisconsin is now in play as a presidential state, and Republicans will make an all-out effort to win it. We also know that Barack Obama’s refusal to go to Wisconsin to campaign for his side did not go down well with his partisans, and will further dampen their enthusiasm for his re-election. Beyond that, we don’t know much.
There is, as we reported last night, hell to pay over the wild inaccuracy of the exit polls, which misled reporters as the vote count began. There have been problems with exit polling before. Given the speed of vote tabulation today, I’m not sure exit polls have much value anyway.
Now, on to November.
FROM URGENT AGENDA (WWW.URGENTAGENDA.COM)
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