I lived in Wisconsin for three-and-a-half weeks. In April, 1979, I was recently graduated from college and unemployed. I had dubbed the place in which I lived, on Home Avenue in Kokomo, "The Slum." If the movie "Stripes" had been out, maybe I would have enlisted. Instead, I decided to go to Madison, Wisconsin. A fraternity brother and his future wife had transferred to the University of Wisconsin. I had visited once, and the place seemed ultra-cool.
Unfortunately, a lot of other people had the same opinion of the place and jobs were difficult to find. I found an apartment, above a bar called Chesty’s on State. I had 22 job interviews in 18 days. I knew the job thing was hopeless when one of the regulars in the bar, who had received his MBA the previous spring, celebrated his promotion to assistant manager—at the Burger King down the street.
Yesterday the people of Wisconsin delivered a million signatures to recall Scott Walker as governor. Walker did not run his campaign on the issues for which he now is infamous. He did not say: "Vote for me and I will end collective bargaining." That was what he did, though: seek to end collective bargaining without first letting the voters consider it as a main issue in his candidacy. It seems that was his main goal all along. He lied to the people of Wisconsin. In 1968, Richard Nixon told voters he had a secret plan to end the Vietnam War—but he could not tell anyone, because it was a secret. Of course, he had no plan. Nixon perhaps committed treason by having aides communicate with North Vietnam envoys to the Paris Peace Talks. The war was fought for several years more, only so Nixon could be elected.
The people of Wisconsin, acting in the spirit of, and also using some of the legal tools of, Robert "Fighting Bob" LaFollette, the progressive Wisconsin Governor and, later, United States Senator. The process will take several more months. Walker held a big fund-raiser in New York City for his cause. The Koch brothers have a direct line to his office. There have been efforts to disenfranchise Wisconsin voters through voter ID laws. The numbers against him at this point, though, seem daunting. If they hold, and the Democrats run a decent candidate, Walker and his ilk will be run out of Madison. I lasted 3 ½ weeks there. His stay will have been longer. I think I probably had more fun.
The same forces that back Walker in Wisconsin are at work here in Indiana. No one ran on a "Right to Work"—an Orwellian misnomer—during the 2010 campaign. If candidates had done so, people would have had an opportunity to voice their opposition to the matter. Governor Daniels is a lame duck, and probably will obtain employment at a conservative "think tank" once he has left office.
In the November elections, we need to ask candidates their positions on all the issues—those that seem to be before us, and those we only can imagine. Maybe we should ask: "What are the three most important issues?" Oh yeah, that would be kind of silly. They would give us talking points, dodge the question, and, once elected, so whatever they damned well pleased. Or do what they need to do to satisfy their paymasters.
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