Recall Fever Sweeps Wisconsin

Wisconsin residents are working overtime to derail their governor.

Madison, WI – Recall fever has struck Wisconsin, where a monumental effort is underway to oust Gov. Scott Walker less than a year after the radical conservative took office. After months of planning, the campaign began in earnest early last week when thousands of volunteers hit the streets to gather the 540,000 signatures necessary to force a recall election.

Remarkably, in less than a week, more than 105,000 people have signed the petitions. That’s more than one-fifth of the total signatures needed, with more than 50 days to go before the statutory petition deadline.

Though Walker is the main course, residents are also targeting Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. A former television news anchor, Kleefisch once expressed concern that same-sex marriage might lead to people marrying inanimate objects such as clocks, prompting her openly gay uncle to vote for her opponent.

Recall organizers expect many signatures to be challenged, so they’re aiming to collect double the total required under law. Not only are one million signatures insurance against failure, but they will drive home the point that this insurgency is more than a pipe dream of disenchanted liberals, a difficult claim to make with a straight face when more than one-third of the state’s voting population wants you gone. Yet somehow Walker manages to do just this.

Naturally, he and his minions in the Legislature are accusing out-of-state agitators of fomenting what is actually homegrown dissent. Clear to progressives, independents and centrist Republicans alike is that that Walker’s interests are not aligned with those he took an oath to serve. In ten months he has taken it upon himself to scrap, roll back or preëmpt hundreds of laws, ordinances and policies, with the full backing of his lackeys in the GOP-controlled Legislature. As you may have guessed, the majority of these revisions benefit a monied few while sticking it those who can least afford it.

Consider a pair of bills that would prohibit municipalities from imposing certain restrictions on landlords. Sounds innocent enough, but what it does here in Madison is wipe out more than thirty years of ordinances passed by the Common Council that, after considerable debate, worked to level the playing field between landlords and tenants. Now, landlords have numerous channels with which to deny a person tenancy and to defraud tenants through the use of bogus fees.

Other things off the top of my head that he’s done: Walker has stripped most public employees of their collective bargaining rights. Through policy rollbacks he’s collapsed the infrastructure for Wisconsin’s green economy. At the behest of the state grocer’s association he’s scaled back child labor laws. The Department of Natural Resources has been staffed with pro-development business interests who have zero conservation experience. To solve the nonexistent problem of voter fraud, he signed into law a voter ID bill that will make it harder for seniors, students, minorities and the disabled to vote. He slashed public education funding, but paid millions to a law firm tasked with drawing up electoral redistricting boundaries that favor Republicans. And he recently signed a law that effectively emasculates the Government Accountability Board by giving the governor veto power over rules set by what is supposed to be an independent watchdog agency.

These assaults don’t even begin to tell of all that’s been lost to Walker’s war on everything wonderful about Wisconsin.

On Friday, one of three recall groups held its formal launch party at the Barrymore Theater in Madison. More than 200 people poured in to hear union reps, lawmakers and activists reiterate the damage so far inflicted by the conservative scourge that infects all three branches of state government.

As if anyone needed reminding.

You’d be hard pressed to find an ordinary person who hasn’t in some way been adversely touched by the policies of this administration or the laws passed by this rubber stamp Legislature. Some stories are so heart wrenching that you might say the Walker Way is actually sadistic greed masquerading as progress.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people from around the state descended once again on the Capitol Square to make some noise on a gray November afternoon. All day long these unhappy citizens chanted, sang songs and beat their drums – the unmistakable rhapsody of an uprising. The people are speaking, and soon they will have spoken.

This is what democracy looks like.

 

 

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