Now that this joke of a recall is behind us, the challenge appears to be uniting the state. Scott Walker has already been expected to heal the rift and bring both political parties to the table. It was the theme of Tom Barrett’s concession speech and Walker himself describe coming together as the next step in moving Wisconsin forward. Yet, are Wisconsin Democrats really ready to come together?
During the recall election, Walker made known that he felt the change in collective bargaining laws could have been handled differently. However, it is important to understand that this does not mean changing the bill, it means getting more information out to the Wisconsin public. Walker understood that in 2010, balancing the budget and loosening the grip of public sector unions was the reason he was elected into power. As we move forward it is important to understand he had the will of people on his side as the GOP brought forth legislation in the first year of his term.
Having won by an even larger margin on June 5th, 2012 than he did in November of 2010, fortifies this stance that the voters of Wisconsin are not in favor of liberal policy that is crippling other states. This also means that moving forward the voters of Wisconsin expect the same fiscally responsible conservative policy enacted as they had already seen from Scott Walker. Therefore, the burden of coming together lies squarely on the shoulders of Democrats in Wisconsin. Are they prepared to accept that Wisconsinites want a strong conservative leader?
Based on the concession speeches given by both Barrett and Mitchell, I don’t believe they want any level of unity. During Barrett’s speech he told his supporters, “Never, ever stop doing what you think is right.” This came after he told the crowd that what they did to get to this election was “right”. He did not tell his supporter to join the governor in his fight to put Wisconsin on the top nationally in jobs, education or quality of life. Instead, he instructed his supporters to continue to challenge the governor as they have. Barrett in losing, wants his supporters to stand against what the people of Wisconsin have said in back-to-back gubernatorial elections.
Mitchell’s speech was much more in your face and aggressive than Barrett’s. As a union representative, what we witnessed from Mitchell was not a sign that he expected things to change. Instead, what we got was the same drum thumping union bullying the people of Wisconsin rejected. Saying things like, “This is a way of life that we always have to keep and that we cannot let up” as he discusses the union activism that drove this failed recall election. He went on to explain to the crowd that this is a “fight we are in and a fight that did not end today whether we won or lost.” Throughout his concession speech he rallied the crowd and encouraged them to stand against the voters of Wisconsin and against the governor. He intentionally took the microphone to divide.
In the end June 5th has proven that the division of this state has been lead by Democrats and their supporters. It has also shown us the path to unity; a path that leads towards a joint effort with Scott Walker to enact pro-business fiscally responsible conservative legislation. This recall election, Walker’s 2010 win, the votes in last years recall elections and the election of the Judge Prosser have all been directly related to Walker’s performance and the direction the state of Wisconsin should be headed. It is clear the voters do not want to see Walker sacrifice his position on current government policy. Rather the people of Wisconsin have said in four consecutive elections that they expect Democrats to join with Walker to fix the divide and bring Wisconsin together. The next two years will show whether the Democrats truly stand with the voters of Wisconsin or if they wish to continue to pander to their union special interest as Mahlon Mitchell is advocating.