Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wisconsin: Scott Walker's "Laboratory for Conservative Ideas"

What's next for Wisconsin now that Scott Walker survived his recall election?

Out-of-state corporate and rich donors own Scott Walker now that they gave him ~66% of his $30.5 million to hoodwink the state, not to mention the more than $16 million spent by outside pro-Walker groups. And these numbers are likely to increase as the final tallies are made. Even though Walker lost his party's control of the State Senate and didn't gain many votes for his rights stripping and unlimited campaign financing, receiving nearly the same percentage of votes as he did in 2010, we know Walker will act like he got a mandate.

We should be proud of what we were able to accomplish against such odds. Walker didn't receive the mandate that he wanted with all of his money, and by losing a majority in the State Senate with recalls this past year, we were able to slow Walker's reddening of Wisconsin. However, Walker won't stop now.

Dan Bice from the Journal Sentinel told Rachel Maddow on MSNBC after the election that Walker will make "Wisconsin, as he has already, a laboratory for conservative ideas." This is what Walker wants to do, and what his corporate and super rich donors like Diane Hendricks (who pays $0 state taxes) want him to do. And now, Walker is owned by these few and has little to fear from Wisconsin.

Now that Walker has significantly reduced the unions, there'll be far less funding for any progressive candidates. This was the far-right's goal, as explained by Scott Fitzgerald last year. Unions are the only special interests that share the same interests as large swaths of people, because they're democratic organizations. Unions are just groups of people working together for their collective interest. Businesses are controlled by an individual or very small group of people but with the finances of far more. The interests of business often don't align with the overall interest of a community, but unions, being part of the community, often have interests aligned with the community.

The unions have far less funding just a year after Walker stripped their rights, and they'll have even less now that their rights won't be restored any time soon. They couldn't come close to competing with Walker's corporate money in the recall election, even though their existence depended upon it. This means unions, the only significant source of money for Democrats, won't be able to provide funding for Democrats to compete with Republicans in Wisconsin. Republicans will forever have the money advantage as long as the Democrats support union rights and the Republicans don't.

The only other large source of funding for politicians besides unions are businesses and the rich. Democrats will have to choose one of two things: small people-funded campaigns or get funding from businesses and the rich as well. We saw from the recall election that small people-funded campaigns aren't easy. So, many Democrats will begin seeking more support from corporations or perpetually lose. We've basically ensured the corporate control of our government.

So, what might our new out-of-state-controlled laboratory of far-right ideas cook up?

Walker refused to say if he would sign Right-to-Work legislation in the final debate when Tom Barrett guaranteed that he would. Diane Hendricks, Walker's biggest donor, asked for it last year on video, and Walker replied with his plan to divide-and-conquer beginning with the rights of public workers. Therefore, we can only conclude that this Tea Party wish is high on his list, even though he didn't campaign on it. Wisconsin can say good-bye to good paying jobs, and say hello to your new corporate dictators.

Right-to-Work would nearly ensure Walker's reelection in 2014 by gutting all significant funding for a Democratic challenger. It would almost certainly give Walker control of the entire legislature as well.

Wisconsin is still suffering from a budget deficit. Just like Right-to-Work, Walker has refused to deny that he would sign legislation like Michigan's financial martial law. It wouldn't be beyond Walker to spin another crisis requiring "bold" action like that law.

Walker hired a deer czar who's primary accomplishments involve privatizing deer hunting. A new private deer hunting industry would be a great way for Walker to push his far-right ideals and repay his rich donors. Get ready to pay hundreds if not thousands to hunt. It's what you voted for, even if Walker didn't say he would do it. That's the way Walker operates. While not nearly as likely as Right-to-Work, it's far from an impossibility.

Walker will surely continue to reduce funding to public education in pursuit of privatization. Expect up to a 30% slash in teacher base pay, something Walker can do without any new legislation. Walker has shown he takes the easy way out, and he won't seek legislation through the now Democratically-controlled State Senate to fix the budget this year.

With the continued bleeding of jobs, Walker may try to "stimulate" the economy again by giving more tax breaks to corporations and increasing our taxes by reducing tax cuts/credits or increasing government fees.

The only thing standing in Walker's way is the Democratic majority in the State Senate, and that may not be easy to hold without any significant source of money. The middle class doesn't stand a chance against the rich in a war with money.

Unfortunately, it seems our only way to stop the corporate takeover of our government is to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that negates the Citizens United ruling. People clearly don't realize when they are voting for politicians primarily supported by out-of-state interests, probably because those interests are able to frame the debate. We *could* get behind a few nationwide PACs setup to compete with corporate donations, especially if people donate what they were paying in union dues to the PACs. It's simply very difficult for candidates primarily supported by middle class grassroots to compete with candidates primarily supported by big business and the rich.


  1. In short, your argument is that unless we can steal money from people who don't want to be part of a union, we can't fund our socialist agenda.

    Thanks for being honest about it.

    1. What?!

      Keep drinking your corporate overlord's Kool-Aid.