Recalls are necessary, promote citizen-driven democracy in WisconsinThe Journal Sentinel gets it wrong on the issue of recalls, complaining yet again over costs of the process, among other exaggerated claims:
It's unnecessary, it's expensive, it's ugly - and it's coming Tuesday. That's the day the primary election in the gubernatorial recall race will be held.Emphases in bold added.
This recall is seen by some here and elsewhere as part of a larger struggle taking place across the country. It also carries the potential, as Walker told the Editorial Board this week, for setting the stage for a constant recall election cycle.
And we still maintain this is all unnecessary because it essentially boils down to one issue: last year's legislation that severely curtailed bargaining rights for most public employees. Politicians, regardless of party, should not be recalled over one issue or one (or even several) votes.
Which is why we hope that state Sen. Robin Vos reintroduces his bill to make it more difficult to conduct recalls in Wisconsin. It's just too easy now, and Wisconsin needs to curb this fever as soon as it can.
I've said it before, and I'll say it until again I'm blue in the face: on this issue, the Journal Sentinel is wrong, wrong, 110 percent WRONG!
Let's address each of the issues, highlighted in bold above. (This will be a lengthy post, to be sure. Click "READ MORE" below to read it in full, or one of the links also below to read a specific complaint the JS makes.)
It's unnecessary, it's expensive, it's ugly.
A constant recall election cycle/It's just too easy now
Politicians should not be recalled over one issue.
"It's unnecessary, it's expensive, it's ugly."
This point is so broad that elections themselves could fit under it. We've definitely seen a plethora of ugly elections, each one costing taxpayers money to operate them, with enormous donations funneled to candidates to campaign. Let's focus on the former: the tax receipt for the recalls, since an election's "ugliness" isn't dependent upon whether it's a recall or not. (The recall's necessity will be addressed further down.)
The Government Accountability Board has suggested that the recalls will cost taxpayers an additional $9 million. That seems like a load of money, especially when Gov. Walker continuously states we're "broke" every opportunity he can (despite handing out bonuses at the Department of Administration).
But that price tag is hardly as bad as the Journal Sentinel makes it seem. In fact, there are more costs that Walker implemented as governor that, if left unchecked, outdo the costs of the recall many times over. Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate puts it best:
The $9 million cost of a statewide recall election is great, but the cost of doing nothing is far greater. This undertaking is the biggest investment in the future of our state and families we can make.Emphases added.
It would take more than 7 recall elections to equal the cost of Walker's tax increase on seniors and working families. It would take more than 11 recalls to equal the tuition hike Walker foisted on University of Wisconsin-System students and their families. And Walker's $2.3 billion in tax giveaways to out-of-state corporations and the super-rich would pay for more than 255 recall elections. Wisconsin simply cannot afford Scott Walker any longer.
The costs aren't even terribly burdensome when you consider what it would cost the average worker. If each person with a job paid an equal amount to fund the recalls, it would cost less than the price of some value meals at their favorite fast food restaurant.
And that's the complaint the Journal Sentinel is making?
A constant recall election cycle/It's just too easy now.
Recall elections only occur when they're deemed as necessary by a certain percentage of the state. Wisconsin has the highest threshold in the nation, requiring 25 percent of the electorate to sign a petition within 60 days. Additionally, an elected official has to have served a full year in office before a recall can even be legally certified. Those aren't obstacles that are easy to overcome, and in fact make the process less easy than one might think.
(You can ask any canvasser how "easy" it is to walk door-to-door requesting signatures. It's not as nice as the editorial board of the Journal Sentinel suggests.)
Additionally, the process won't be constant so long as politicians act in a way that their constituents deem proper. Nearly one million Wisconsinites signed a recall petition because they felt Walker's presence in Madison was too much to take. It wasn't because they wanted a do-over -- the call for recall only came after Walker attacked workers rights, and even then the recall has since evolved into much more than that.
"Politicians should not be recalled over one issue."
Recalls can definitely, and should, be waged over singular issues -- conservatives tried waging them in the late 90s against liberal politicians over the abortion issue, recall drives that Walker himself supported. But a recall would be legitimate over other singular issues as well. A call to reinstate Jim Crow laws, however imaginative that scenario may be, would definitely legitimize any call to remove an official that tried to do so. If an issue cuts deep enough, it warrants a recall against a legislator or set of lawmakers that support its implemenation.
But more than that, this specific recall campaign is about more than "just one thing." The Journal Sentinel apparently missed the memo that even FOX News got (albeit way late themselves): this recall is no longer about one issue. It's about the direction our state is headed in, the values our state has tossed aside, all due to the actions of our Republican governor and his allies in the legislature.
It's about the tens of thousands of jobs we've lost.
It's about the distorted tax scheme that benefits the rich and punishes the poor.
It's about the right of women workers to have necessary deterrents to wage discrimination.
It's about the appointment of Walker cronies to public offices through political connections, and the special favors given to campaign contributors.
It's about misleading statements, the clear manipulation of data, that Walker & his cohorts have employed time and time again.
It's about making sure everyone has access to health care that can't afford it, that our seniors have a decent standard of living in their golden years, and that our children have an exceptional education in their formative ones.
And yes, it's also about workers' rights, the belief that public sector employees have a right to negotiate, openly and fairly with their employers (our elected leaders), a contract that makes sense to everyone, through compromise and give-and-take.
The critics of this recall may complain about a lot of things. But it being over a singular issue is one complaint they cannot rightfully make.
The Journal Sentinel hasn't made a secret of its feelings on the recall elections. Time and time again, the Milwaukee newspaper has made it clear that they think the costs are too high and the reasons to vapid too support these special elections.
They're wrong. There are more than enough valid concerns over why the recall is needed, and the costs are minimal in relation to those concerns. If the Journal Sentinel were to examine each issue and say that they disagree recall is warranted, that'd be one thing. But to say that the process is "unnecessary" is a great insult to the hundreds of thousands (nearly millions) of signers who felt the ouster of Gov. Walker was very necessary indeed.
The process isn't easy. It's necessary when the people feel it is. And its costs are cheap when you break it down, especially when you consider the investment in citizen-driven democracy the recall establishes.
The Journal Sentinel has every right to be critical of the recall. But it needs to do a better job making its case, beyond than these criticisms and others as well. Basing the arguments on these "merits" do their readers a great disservice.