One week from today a historic election will be held in the Badger state. For those comfortably identified as a “political junkie,” it’s actually rather fascinating. For those who prefer politics be kept far more than even an arm’s length away, it’s an event that will fly completely below all radars. Yet for the Intramuralist, it reveals the wisdom — or rather, lack of it — in the established political process.
First, briefly, the basic facts:
- Republican Scott Walker was elected Governor of Wisconsin in Nov. of 2010.
- On Feb. 15, 2011, the “Scott Walker Budget Repair Bill” was introduced.
- Details of the bill: The stated purpose was to help fix unbalanced state finances by cutting benefits for most union employees (law enforcement and firefighters were exempt). Union negotiations (for all but wages) became limited. State employees were required to contribute 5.8% of their pay toward pensions and at least 12.6% toward health care. (See the Green Bay Press Gazette for a more specific summary.)
- On Feb. 17, 2011, Democrat state senators walked out and left the state, in order to prevent the bill’s ratification.
- Large protests occurred; protestors hailed from multiple states.
- In March, the bill was signed into law.
- Efforts ensued to recall multiple Republican state senators who supported the legislation, costing millions of dollars. When elections were held in August, most senators kept hold of their seats and Republicans thus kept control of the Senate.
- A recall election was then pursued for Gov. Walker (state election rules require a governor to be in office at least 1 year prior to pursuing recall).
- This coming Tuesday, June 5th, is that election.
Here’s what the Intramuralist finds foolish in this process…
First, I’m astounded by any adult whose means of dealing with undesirable circumstances is to run away. I’m reminded of my 13 year old; he’s still maturing. There are times when we have some tough conversations, and often, those are conversations he prefers not to have. What’s one of his current coping strategies? “I’m not having this conversation!” And then he storms away. I don’t care about party affiliation. Have the tough conversation. Stand proud and respectfully articulate your point when you disagree. Otherwise, there’s great question for the need of maturing.
Second, the decision to recall Gov. Walker was made only a few months into his initial term. I am struck by how partisanship so often trumps reason — whether you are calling for Walker’s recall or the impeachment of a president. Unless engaged in obvious criminal activity, give the elect their initial term. If you are satisfied, vote for him again. If you are dissatisfied, vote him out. But don’t allow partisanship to masquerade as any sense of wisdom.
And thirdly, notice the massive amount of money by those desiring to oust Gov. Walker — and those who support him. Estimates vary, but the reality is that Wisconsin has spent millions on these recall efforts. For the 8 state senator recall races, an estimated $31 million was spent. In the Governor’s recall election, that amount is expected to soar. (Hmmm… wouldn’t those millions actually help fix the budgetary problems?)
Evidence of even more impurity? Millions of the contributions opposing and supporting Walker are coming from organizations and people outside the state of Wisconsin. In order words, non-Badgers are badgering the Badger elections.
Friends, whether you are engrained in a firm Republican or Democrat stance, if you believe your party’s establishment and the election strategy is pure, you are either unaware or ignoring the facts. The fact is that too much money is involved in politics. Money is polluting the system. Without a doubt, it’s currently polluting the otherwise beautiful state of Wisconsin.
The fundamental question in the state of Wisconsin — the argument that the Intramuralist believes should be wrestled with and the argument over which good people will still disagree — is what is the long term impact of union contracts on state government? Is there any truth to the belief that unions funnel money to their candidates who, if elected, then return the favor by approving overly generous contracts? What is honorable? What is good? What is good for the economy?
While serving as the original impetus for the protests, the campaigns are no longer discussing the long term impact of collective bargaining. The economic conditions in Wisconsin have been improving. Yet due to the massive amounts of money distorting the political process, people and parties are now simply attempting to get “their guy” elected. Hence, neither the Badger nor the watching non-Badger can easily discern what is wise.