Years from now, when Wisconsinites think back on the events of 2012, we should feel immense pride when we remember January the 17th. After a year of waging war on Wisconsin values, over one million signatures were filed to recall the governor and put a stop to the policies that have taken our beloved state down a path that is completely contrary to its history.
As he expressed in a Fox News, Walker wishes he had done things differently. He wishes he had spent more time “laying the groundwork” and “making the case over and over again.” Perhaps these regrets and second thoughts were brought on by the realities of the recall effort. Perhaps he finally realized the power of the people who were stripped of their right to workplace democracy. Perhaps he finally realized that there are consequences for interfering with citizens’ access to the ballot box. Perhaps he started to feel the effects of the anger of the thousands who will suffer under the choices he made during the budgeting process. Regardless of the reason, Walker and his Republican colleagues are worried and they should be. If I pulled some of the stunts they have pulled over the last year, I would be worried too.
During the 2010 elections, Democrats thought we had taken care of everything by electing President Obama. The lesson has been a hard one, but we learned a few things. We know that they want to limit our access. We know that they will put the interests of corporations over the interests of the people. We know that while they should be introducing bills to create jobs, they have decided to introduce bills to advance their social agenda. In 2010, we were content and did not take the attacks on our values and rights seriously. But we do now.
These recalls are the second round of the Working Class of Wisconsin vs. Governor Walker and his rubber-stamping cronies. In August, we unseated two Republican senators and brought the majority down to 17-16. This time around, the stakes are even higher and I have no doubt that we will get to the polls like never before. With the filing of those signatures, we have officially stood up and made our voices heard.
I want to commend the work of Mike Tate, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and all those who worked to gather the signatures we needed. They faced the elements, harsh criticism and sabotage to make the effort to recall Scott Walker a success. Thus far, one Democratic candidate has officially announced her intent to run and I have no doubt that more will announce in the near future. While I cannot predict the outcome of the recall election, I can be unrelentingly optimistic. Ideally the election will occur towards the end of May, but I have no doubt that Walker will file frivolous lawsuits meant to slow the process.
As one of the Wisconsin 14, I cannot help but feel an immense sense of pride to be part of such an important moment in history. This fight draws eerie parallels to the fights of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who died 44 years ago fighting for workers’ rights. By gathering twice the number of signatures needed to recall the governor, Wisconsin is continuing Dr. King’s fight: the fight for workplace democracy, for dignity, for equity, and for access.