Wednesday, June 06, 2012

An Ill Wind

There is a chill in the air this morning. When Scott Walker kept his job last night, it became more difficult for unionized workers  -- public and private -- to keep theirs. There are two sets of numbers everyone should keep in mind. The first number is  52 % -- the same number that won Walker the governorship the first time around. The second number is $30.5 million -- the size of the Walker war chest.

Forbes Magazine reports that:

Wisconsin’s Governor has out-raised opponent Tom Barrett, the Mayor of Milwaukee, by almost 8 to one: $30.5 million to Barrett’s $3.9 million. Of that huge haul, $1.68 million — or, almost half Barrett’s total — came from 14 members of the Forbes billionaires list, all but one of whom live outside Wisconsin.

So the lesson to be learned is just what money will buy -- and how far some people will go to buy it. And there is another lesson: There will be those who will line up behind Walker to try and repeat his success -- if that's what you call it.

Among his imitators is Canada's Stephen Harper. Harper has made no secret of the source of his inspiration. And Republicans have made no secret of whose mouth they will put their money behind. God help the United States if Mitt Romney succeeds.

It is an ill win that blows out of Wisconsin.


Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I feel badly for Wisconsin. I have long been an admirer of it's Progressive Era history, led by Robert M. La Follette. Have they turned their back on this tradition. For now at least, they seem to have. I hope not.

I suspect the teaching of history is not very good in that State. Money moves politics these days not the struggle of the working men and women.

Owen Gray said...

It's tragic to see what's happened in Wisconsin, Phillip. But the state has been through rough times before. People forget that Joe McCarthy was from Wisconsin.

They threw him out. Let's hope they once again see the error of their ways.

thwap said...

If only smart decent people could form their own country. Of course, a lot of Ignatieff or Obamabots would probably think they were invited.

Anonymous said...

The wind in Harper land, is just as ill as the wind in Wisconsin. BC had a hell of a time, getting rid of Harper's favorite henchmen, Gordon Campbell. Between Harper and Campbell, BC has been destroyed.

Harper's other henchmen Boessenkool, has been placed in with the BC Liberals, to completely sell off, the rest of the provinces Real Estate.

Was it not $50 million that bought the election, in Parry Sound for Harper? Would Harper cheat to win? Over 2/3 and counting, Canadians say he would. Harper is trying to quash, the robo-call cheat investigation. What does that tell us?

Harper is also trying to prevent, the disputes over contested riding wins. Harper has appointed, two new Conservative judges. No doubt they will preside over the appeals.

Owen Gray said...

We shouldn't kid ourselves, Anon. Walker demonstrated in Wisconsin that big money has lots of clout.

Only a well informed public -- here and in the United States -- can do battle with that kind of power.

Owen Gray said...

Things won't change, thwap, unless and until enough "smart" people see through the imposters.

sunsin said...

Things won't change until many on the left start thinking with their brains instead of some other organ.

In Wisconsin, it was always a given that any challenger would be running against money.

It was not a given that the progressive cause would be headed by an uninspiring figure whose political career included a massive loss to the very same person he was up against.

You can't shoot yourself in the foot and expect it to feel great just because you did it in the cause of virtue.

On top of that, ten per cent of Wisconsin voters were known to be against recalls absolutely, as a general stance, and more than half felt that recalls should only be used when the figure recalled had been convicted of a crime. In other words, the fight was all uphill, fought not just on the question "should Walker be recalled" but on that of "should anyone be recalled for political reasons?" The Polish Cavalry of the left were told this in Wisconsin; they ignored it, and got defeated, as they should have been able to predict.

And even at this, Walker only pulled out a victory by a few percent. His money doesn't seem to have been all that effective, considering he had the advantage of a point of principle (in the minds of more than half the voters) and a second-rate already-loser candidate running against him.

There is only one lesson in the Wisconsin affair, but it's one that some people on the left are too immature to learn from: when you strike at the king, strike to kill. Don't start fights you can't finish. Don't set goals you can't reach. Don't overreach. But hey, overreaching is sexy, and if you're thinking of yourself as a loser anyway, with a reflexive excuse ready-made ("oooh look at the money!).....

Owen Gray said...

I will admit, sunsin, that there is a tendency on the left to tilt at windmills and to not accurately size up opponents.

That said, it would be a mistake to underestimate the leverage the Citizens United decision has given monied interests.

It's all part of the assault on the progressive state which Chris Hedges documents in The Death of the Liberal Class.

Anonymous said...

But Harper has mastered the art of gathering small donations. That is something for which he deserves credit. I'm less willing to give credit to the small donators. But I digress.

In some sports, don't they calculate a score based on some calculation that takes into account the performance and the difficulty? I think diving is like this. The score is judged based on the difficulty of the dive and how well it's executed. Perhaps elections should be judged on the basis of the votes received, and how much money was spent per vote.

Owen Gray said...

That's an interesting concept, Anon. Conservatives like to give themselves credit for the "efficiency" of their get out the vote operation.

If you consider the number of votes cast for Walker and the size of his war chest, you'd have to conclude that his get out the vote operation was far from efficient.