In The News
With recall inevitable, Walker seeks to keep his own party from deserting
By Dominique Paul Noth
Editor, Milwaukee Labor Press
Posted December 30, 2011
There are only 10 days left after the New Year turns in which to sign recall papers against Scott Walker, who is moving heaven and earth to make you pay dearly if you dare express your democratic rights. He recognizes that his opponents have more than enough names and still counting to force him to the polls.
Now that he’s lost the left and much of the center, he is trying to stabilize the more conservative into respecting his extremism. (Hear that, Republicans? You’ll be figuratively tarred, feathered and flogged out of town if you express your reservations in public!)
Already his department of administration has decreed that anyone who signs a recall petition clearly can’t be trusted as a citizen and therefore will not be hired for the 50 or more slots to be created to help verify and validate the names and details on those scraps of paper submitted to the Government Accountability Board. Not only does that slap those who oppose him, it chills anyone in his camp thinking of getting on the bandwagon.
The hiring can only be done through the four temp agencies he selected last July, none located in a bastion of progressive power and most longtime GOP friendly companies. Moreover, Walker’s Republican delegates will be looking over the shoulder of those counting the results – and woe to the known Republican name they spot.
There are other requirements, but they don’t bar you from this job if a third party group – or a corporation that has the same rights of free speech as a person, according to the GOP – paid you to sign Adolph Hitler’s name to a petition or otherwise work to block the recall effort. As long as you didn’t pay money to a political candidate. Given who does the hiring and the actual rules, it is clear that the civic naïve and indifferent have been deemed the best hires – the people who know the least or secretly tilt one way. Think about politics? Care about the process? Bring knowledge and judgment to the table? You are excluded.
The clear moral – if you think Walker’s policies are lame brain, you don’t have the integrity to do your civic duty.
How can you be trustworthy enough to flag duplicate os suspect signatures for the senior expert staff at the GAB? That would be too close to the democratic process in general elections, where people who also vote work honorably at the polls. But that isn’t Walker’s America, of course. People who sign recall petitions have too much time on their hands and hardly need to find work.
Walker and his minions have made it crystal clear in commercials and press releases that Big Brother and his legions of highly paid lawyers will be scrutinizing every signature. For lifelong Republicans whatever their convictions, that means the party is making a list and checking it twice for registered Republicans straying off the reservation. This is not the moment to be naughty to the conservative constituents among whom they reside and who sometimes elect them. And if you haven’t got the pointed message yet, they announced this policy while recall signatures could still be collected.
Those restrictions have not been explained much in the media because it contradicts what Walker is attempting in those amply covered press bites – that anyone opposing him has got to be the spawn of Satan.
Though at this point Satan seems to have nearly a million spawns.
The rules of recall give Walker unlimited campaign funds and as of this writing he and his third-party supporters have thrown $3 million into their claims that it’s all working, that business leaders grovel at his feet like the new Kim Jong Il and that only evil overweight union bosses with butts fatter than Sensenbrenner’s are the enemy --- and they all live out of state and waddle in during the dead of night to sign the recalls.
Not only the numbers belie that – the petitions have been signed by twice as many citizens as there are union members in the entire state – but the claims of false or duplicate signatures are ludicrously exaggerated to ninja proportions while not a single petition has been evaluated.
But such is the power of the governor’s mansion. He can say without proof that he has heard of one person who signed petitions multiple times, and the media reports it without checking. I could relate the anecdote that David Koch lives in Walker’s spare bedroom and sneaks out every morning to stuff $20,000 lovingly into the governor’s right pants pocket, but normally as a journalist I would have to offer some sort of proof. I guess I work for the wrong outlet because Walker and his forces – supported by talk radio, FOX and other venues – seem to be able to claim anything without contradiction.
They can hire lawyers and declare dirty work afoot. They can go courtroom shopping for a friendly judicial face in Waukesha to challenge what would be laughed out of Dane County, that the very rules of counting and verification the GOP once agreed to are now flawed, much like the very deadlines they agreed to for redistricting should now be dropped. Both are cut out of the same cloth of partisan fear.
Now they are forcing Judge Mac Davis, a former GOP state senator with a reputation of conservative care and caution on the bench, to treat seriously an attempt to undermine the responsible and sometimes infuriating (to both sides) “letter of the law” approach of GAB leader Kevin Kennedy.
Even if Davis succumbs in Waukesha, many petition organizers are already laughing the whole thing off. Not only is it ridiculous but it is a tempest in a teapot because they even more than the GOP want the petition count to be accurate and honest. (They suggest the Republicans expect hanky-panky because this is what the GOP hires would do.)
As the media would quickly find if they stopped by any recall office, the Democrats are diligently checking -- without tampering –- to make sure their record is accurate, It is in their own best interest.
Knowing that only the original circulator can initial a change, volunteers are phoning those people back in when they note an address without a city or an illegible printed name atop a signature. You get the impression they think it would be legally silly and intrusive to order the GAB – as the GOP is attempting -- to step in before the process plays out. But they see nothing but slowdown and pending derision when few duplicate signatures or fake names emerge. They expect the GOP to again make heavy weather out of the few drops they find, but they expect Wisconsin will see more deeply into the Walker sham show.
The power of campaign money and the naiveté of facile analysis have led even political science profs at major universities to note how few established Republicans have signed the recalls, leading to the bizarre claim that 90% of the GOP is standing by their man. Try 60% in actuality but who can blame them all for staying quiet except in private talks? There is such a thing as political self-preservation, which the professors would have to step out of the ivory tower to see.
There are many reasons people don’t sign recalls, which are historically a weapon of the extreme right. Some people don’t believe in the process. Others don’t like putting their names to any public documents. Some folks are shy, some are suspicious of everyone. Noted traditional Republicans may not regard Walker as their standard bearer – they may even be embarrassed by his antics. But are not about to commit political suicide since the GOP is scrutinizing names.
The inevitable day at the ballot box is coming, and there all the votes are secret and matters of conscience, not of fear from the bully’s pulpit. Do you think, maybe, that is what Walker is really afraid of?