Issue #31- October 30, 2011
In this issue: More on the Economy, Recalls, Occupy, Education Reform and Good Intentions
It's the Economy, Stupid…
As we get closer to the anticipated kick-off of the effort to recall Governor Walker it becomes more important that news about the effects of his policies are made available to the general public. For those of us who are public workers or who live in communities like Madison the information is readily accessible. However, there are large numbers of Wisconsin citizens who never get the full picture of what is happening here. This is true in all areas of the state and is a fact for a number of reasons.
Whatever the reasons for lack of information the fact remains that a majority of voters will either not vote in the recall or will vote based on a few issues. It is vital to the success of the recall that progressives are able to assertively frame the debate and call attention to the ways that Walker's policies impact common citizens. We know that both sides will be flooding the airwaves with ads and the candidates will be trying to find that sound-bite to capture the voter's support.
Because the incumbent has an advantage in the media and Walker will get huge amounts of money for advertising we must start early in our efforts to educate the population of Wisconsin about the realities of the Walker Agenda.
As in any election, the economy will be the primary issue in the minds of the voters in the recall election. People vote for the candidates that they feel will give them the best chance of being successful in efforts to support themselves and improve their economic standing. To be sure, there are other issues on the minds of voters, but a look at election results through history show that the other issues don't have the same impact as the economy does.
This poll shows some interesting results about what Wisconsin voters think as we head towards the recall and the 2012 Presidential Election. The poll shows a division in opinion and the importance of educating the public before the elections occur.
How will we attract quality employees for public service jobs if there is no financial incentive to work for the state?
Walker's policies aren't working as well as he said they would, and I don't see that changing much in the future either.
Good News Anyone?…
There is positive news from around the nation.
Poll: Effort to repeal SB5, Ohio's new collective bargaining law, has huge lead; support for Kasich.
As always keep an eye out for places to spend money that are progressive.
Here's another way to protest that anyone with a mailing address can do.
Recalls shouldn't become common political actions, but there are a lot of positives from the current politics here in Wisconsin. The level of political participation needs to increase for our democracy to continue to be successful. The recall movements have gotten more citizens involved in talking about, thinking about and acting in politics.
Obviously Walker has started campaigning already.
Intent vs. Result…
Many voters are confused. They hear Republican candidates talking about…
-Giving people more money to spend by reducing taxes.
-Making it easier for small businesses to function by cutting red tape.
-Patriotism and public safety.
-Holding public employees accountable in a variety of ways.
-Making all citizens be accountable for being productive and positive members of society.
On the surface there isn't anything wrong with any of these concepts. No one wants excessive regulation or wasteful spending. People want to be safe and feel good about their country/state/municipality. Everyone should have an opportunity to improve their socio-economic status and should do their best to take advantage of their opportunities.
However, before everyone rushes out to vote Republican it is important to look at the results of their actions. I won't begin to argue intent, I'm simply going to assume that most political figures do believe in what they are trying to do. I want to believe that our elected officials have the best interests of the people they represent at heart. The argument can be made that they may be representing other interests, but that is difficult to prove and in some ways counterproductive.
The fact remains that political actions and policies have impacts on our lives, some are intended and some are not. While it is acceptable and expected for a nation as large and diverse as ours to have many different viewpoints, what matters is that we have ways to express our views and be heard. It is this process of debate that (while frequently slow and frustrating) allows our leadership to make informed decisions and avoid potential negative consequences that may have been unforeseen.
There are countless examples of legislation and how unintended effects have adversely affected individuals, groups and the environment. Here are a few from recent reports.
The main concern that I have with the current state of politics in Wisconsin isn't the policies proposed by the Republican majority. I strongly disagree with much of what they are doing, but the real problem for me is the lack of respect for dissenting voices and the uniting of so much power in the executive branch of government. If only one side has any power to make decisions we no longer have a democracy. Just look at how the GOP wants to change the legal system.
Wall St. and Protests…
I would be remiss if I didn't comment on recent actions regarding the Occupy protests. I'm sure all of us are concerned that the protests provide opportunities for violence. The news from Oakland shows just how dangerous a situation we have developing around our nation. Our history is full of violent protests, especially centered around workers rights and social classes. As the frustration with our ever growing social and economic inequity continues to build it only seems more likely that violent interactions will escalate as well.
To date most of the violence has been instigated by the authorities. We need to be sure to keep it that way. The use of violence will only inflame situations that are already volatile. Now is the time where we need true leadership in our government and our grassroots movements.
Once again information and education is vital to a productive protest. Common citizens need to understand why the Occupy Movement is a real protest and not just a collection of "deadbeats" and "whiners". To quote Martin Luther King Jr.,
"Public relations is a very necessary part of any protest… The main objective is to bring moral pressure to bear upon an unjust system or a particularly unjust law. The public at large must be aware of the inequities involved in such a system. In effect, in the absence of justice in the established courts of the region, non-violent protesters are asking for a hearing in the court of world opinion."