05 June 2012

What this means for Wisconsin

Along the streets of northwestern Milwaukee today people were out and about actively engaging and shouting (yes, shouting in the streets - yelling to neighbors to get to the polls) about voting; some were explaining to anyone who'd listen how they voted for the first time today.  Throughout the bustling day, people were overflowing with optimism that the Walker administration, an administration that chooses to defund public education, to attack the impoverished, and punish the needy while rewarding the wealthy and well-to-do, might just be defeated and tossed out of office.

There was hope.  I can't claim to have seen that much hope for some time, since 2008 for sure.  Even though I know this country is in the midst of a great new movement from the far right, I also believe there are the downtrodden and the working class, the indigent and the working poor who believe in  a progressive, equal, fair and just United States.

Tonight we know that the revolt against the greed, inequality, and abuse of the new regime represented by the far right will not begin with the removal of the autocrat Scott Walker.  We also know that the State Senate will probably remain in Republican hands.  The voters will get what they ask for.

Workers of this state who have spent the last year bashing fellow workers and unions will slowly begin to understand what Walker's message "Open for business" truly means.  Already many tradesmen have reported taking lower wages in order to retain their jobs.  This trend will continue.  The aces are now all held by corporate leaders and they have the support of a corrupt government that rewards its lackeys and henchmen well.  Because if Republicans know anything, they know loyalty well.  And they did loyalty well today. 

But this is just the beginning of drastic change in Wisconsin.  The far right regime buoyed by the racist and divisive rants of talk-radio shock jocks like the intolerable Limbaugh and equally repulsive C. Sykes will continue to wage a violent effort to exert control over the workers of this state and in the country and to further separate the impoverished from the privileged.  These are sad days for workers who earn a fraction of the corporate bosses.  The robber barons have taken control of the moral compass and are funding political campaigns that promise to pay them back in full. Wisconsin has been home to some of the worst fighting over the last year between fellow workers, between family members and friends.  Yet, the voters reelected the regime that started it all and in the process affirmed the divisive and regressive tactics.  How quickly we forgot Walker's real motto, "This is non-negotiable."  

For the country, today was also momentous.  Mitt Romney must be creaming his suit with glee; his power hungry cravings are right now transforming him into a giddy school boy contemplating his next prank or bit of tomfoolery.   Leading up to today, neo-cons around the country were preaching about Wisconsin; preaching about the importance of this vote.  And Wisconsin witnessed a flood of neo-con, far right money splattered like dung across the dairy farms and air waves and county fairs.  It energized a lot of hatred and anger on the right.  People spouted off that they were upset they were being forced to vote again by "union thugs".  What mishmash! 

All the fueled rhetoric amounts to for the tea party and Republicans who turned out en masse is a few saved tax dollars, about $20 off property taxes by recent estimates.  Although, Walker's next move will be to lower state capital gains tax to 0, a nice fatty bone for recent large donors to his recall campaign.

The message for the people of Wisconsin in this recall race is that more than 50% of Wisconsinites prefer to save a few dollars on their taxes than to see quality public education.  That more than 50% of Wisconsinites think more about themselves than others - like those who rely on BadgerCare or Medicaid, like those who rely on public social programs for food and shelter - because that is what the new far right stands for.   A celebration of greed.  What it will eventually boil down to is far more poverty and a few more very wealthy plutocrats.

The issues that we continue to ignore are the alarming poverty rates, the out of control imprisonment rates, and the run away income inequality rate.  The saddest part of all of this is that rural poor seem to have been lured in to believing the propaganda of the right - that their enemies were the unions.  No working poor person should ever believe that.  Without the unions we wouldn't have a 40-hour, 5-day work week.  We wouldn't have child labor laws or OSHA.  We wouldn't have a minimum wage.  Those gluttons for punishment (the poor, the workers, the middle class, women) who just reaffirmed Walker's and his cronies' politics have ultimately attacked themselves.  Like most things, the consequences of these actions will not be felt immediately.  But citizens of Wisconsin will feel the pain of these destructive policies.

A year ago, this blog began by describing Wisconsin in a dark, dark place.  Unbelievably, it has got darker.  These neo-cons hate equality - they despise gay marriage and equal pay for women.  They hate science and the environment - they cut investment in stem-cell research and protections for wetlands.  They hate average citizens - they passed tort reform that effectively eliminates a citizen's recourse to sue for damages. 

Yet, this is the group of wealth-backers that Wisconsites reelected.  It's a sad day for Wisconsin.

What it feels like in Wisconsin is a collective slap across the faces of public instructors and public workers.  

Well, Wisconsin, prepare.  The policies enacted over the last year were the beginning.  More cuts are coming.  More cuts to education, more cuts to health care, and more privatization, more division, more isolationism as a result of the dog-eat-dog philosophy, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps claptrap that these neo-cons and tea partiers tout.

Consider the divisions that have been created.  Look at Waukesha county where nearly 75% of the vote went Republican.  3 of 4 voters voted against teachers' rights to collectively bargain for a safe environment; 3 of 4 voters voted against protecting our environment; 3 of 4 voters approved Walker's budget that hands out money to people like Ron Johnson and deprives assistance from people that need it.  They voted against their own neighbors and friends and family members.  How will overturned communities like that reunite?  The short answer is that they won't.  Grudges and lines have been fixed.

For what has traditionally been a progressive, forward thinking state, we have truly 'advanced' backwards and created an unequal playing field that clearly will take decades to repair.  In the meantime, we will witness worse suffering.

Wisconsites have also set the bar for November.  Prepare for a barrage of vicious attack ads - a continuation of the past few months - because you supported the unprecedented amounts of money that poured into the divisive and derisive political campaigning.  Because those tactics worked for Walker, they'll be more repulsive against Obama.  Prepare for a stark future, Wisconsin.  Many of us today wish we weren't Wisconsinites.

I can't seem to get the iconic Sinead O'Connor tune "Black Boys on Mopeds" out of my head.  So here it is for all to recall.
Margaret Thatcher on TV
Shocked by the deaths that took place in Beijing
It seems strange that she should be offended
The same orders are given by her

I've said this before now
You said I was childish and you'll say it now
Remember what I told you:
If they hated me they will hate you

England's not the mythical land of Madame George and roses
It's the home of police who kill black boys on mopeds
And I love my boy and that's why I'm leaving
I don't want him to be aware that there's
Any such thing as grieving

Young mother down at Smithfield
5 am, looking for food for her kids
In her arms she holds three cold babies
And the first word that they learned was "please"

These are dangerous days
To say what you feel is to dig your own grave
Remember what I told you:
If you were of the world they would love you

England's not the mythical land of Madame George and roses
It's the home of police who kill blacks boys on mopeds
And I love my boy and that's why I'm leaving
I don't want him to be aware that there's
Any such thing as grieving.

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