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In Wisconsin, the Political Divide is Deep as the Governor’s Recall Election Looms


Rev. David L. Ostendorf • May 18, 2012

Last week a phenomenal 1.3 million voters went to the polls in the Wisconsin Governor’s primary to set the stage for the final act in one of the most divisive political battles in the entire country.  Fortunately, they did not have to show photo identification to do so, thanks to recent state court rulings that deemed a new Voter ID law unconstitutional.  On June 5 voters will determine once and for all whether Republican Governor Scott Walker will continue in office or be replaced by Democrat Tom Barrett, Mayor of Milwaukee.

The only issue in this battle is Scott Walker.  Period.

The state is starkly divided along partisan political lines, and has been since Walker and his legislature eviscerated public employees’ bargaining rights in early 2011, prompting massive public protests that drew international media coverage.  Though Walker faced a faux Republican opponent in the primary, some 646,000 party members went to the polls to express their support for him.  While his war with public employees cemented Walker’s fame on the political right, it was but the beginning of his iron-fisted rule.  He pressed and won (now overturned) Voter ID restrictions, repealed the state’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act, and came out in favor of an Arizona-style immigration law.  He promised to create 250,000 new jobs by the end of his term; in the past year Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state in the U.S.

The ideological split in the state is deep, wide, and ugly, harshly dividing families, friends, co-workers, and communities.  It will not be healed soon, regardless of the outcome of the June 5 election.  Walker is of the new breed of arrogant, scorched earth politicians who view compromise as cave-in, and who believe that they alone are imbued with “the truth.”  In that regard, the upcoming recall election is another portent of the vicious storms brewing on the national political landscape, reflected again last week in the defeat of Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) by an opponent who believes that “bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republicans’ point of view.”

The notion that “big labor” is behind the Walker recall has been put largely to rest, particularly with the defeat of “the labor candidate” in last week’s Democratic primary.  Moreover, Walker’s stellar success in raising over $25 million from large GOP donor interests has raised eyebrows across the state, and undercut the “big labor” mantra. If Walker were to be defeated June 5, it would be one of the few times that “big money” faced defeat at the ballot box.

The notion that the U.S. is neither a “red” (Republican) nor “blue” (Democrat) nation is tired and torn in light of the prevailing political/economic reality, i.e., that the U.S. is simply a green nation, the color of money and of those (and their puppets) who seek to maintain control over its wealth and power at the expense of its peoples. Thus it is in Wisconsin, where we’ll see on June 5 who prevails in this round of the ongoing struggle for the future—the principalities and powers, or the people themselves.

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