Now that we are past the Wisconsin state senate recall elections, we need to take a cold, hard look at what needs to be done in 2012. The people of Wisconsin are “energized,” as the pundits say, but we need to be realistic about where we focus our energy and how we allocate limited time and financial resources.
Quite apart from any possible recall elections, here is what we have to look forward to in Wisconsin in 2012 (not in chronological order, but in my rough order of importance):
- Presidential election
- Municipal and school board elections
- Election of a new US Senator
- Elections for all eight Wis. congressional districts
- Election of half the members of the state senate
- Elections for all members of the state assembly
- Probable Republican and Democratic primaries for US Senate
- Republican presidential primary
- Other possible primaries
Keep in mind that for these elections the district lines have been redrawn, and new voter ID requirements will be implemented, so there will be plenty of room for confusion. We are a 50-50 state when it comes to statewide races. But the new Republican-drawn districts mean that there will be fewer 50-50 districts. With close races likely we need to pick our battles carefully. Voter turnout will be crucial.
So even though I have a “Recall Walker” sticker on my bumper, I am reluctantly advocating that we put aside that goal in favor of the following:
1) Educate people about the new voter ID requirements and new district lines, and get out the vote.
2) Give Scott Walker a Democratic legislature to work with.
3) Focus on electing a worthy successor to Herb Kohl.
4) Elect more progressive Representatives to Congress.
So I am rethinking my bumper sticker. I will leave it on the car, but now it does not mean recall as ”remove,” but rather as “remember.” In every one of those four goals, people need to “recall” Walker. Recall the damage done to middle-class, working class, and struggling citizens. Recall the damage being done to public schools and the environment. Recall the voter suppression policies put into effect.
And recall what Wisconsin was like before the Walker era. Recall worker rights and responsibilities. Recall treating people with respect. Recall cooperation. Recall consultation with those affected by legislation.
That is my rethinking of the recall of the Governor. Recall Walker without recalling Walker. We have a lot of work to do. We need to use him and recall his record to rally and motivate voters. 2014 will be here soon enough.
Jim Oakley lives in Ashland, Wisconsin. Jim is a fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served with me in the Eastern Caribbean in the early 1970s. Since then Jim has been teaching Spanish in the Wisconsin public school system. Jim is, naturally, heavily invested in what's been going on in Wisconsin, and he writes about it.