Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Recall Election Wankery in Wisconsin

Congratulations, Wisconsin. Exactly 18 months after the protests at your state capitol that seemed to provide so much promise of a real challenge by the citizenry against the awful status quo in America, you are now right back where you started, with the odious Scott Walker sitting in the Governor’s mansion. All would be activists and Occupiers should take note: this is what happens when you allow your passion and energy to be channeled into the conventional political process. For even if Walker had been defeated in the recall election, the only real difference would have been that his Democratic opponent would not have been so ham-handed as to openly signal his intentions to fuck over the working and middle classes.

This sad state of affairs is going to continue until you accept one incontrovertible fact: that the Democratic Party may actually be a bigger enemy to your cause than the Republicans. At least with the Republicans you KNOW exactly what you are getting—openly slavish devotion to big business, war and empire. With the Democrats you get empty platitudes and a lot of sunshine blown up your skirt, but at the end of the day you still get an Afghanistan surge, Guantanamo, drone missiles, Wall Street bailouts, invasive airport scanners, a predatory student loan industry, crumbling labor unions, unbridled globalization destroying good paying American jobs and raids on medical marijuana dispensaries and part of the senseless and never ending War on Drugs.

Look at how on the national level Obama’s election has effectively muted protest against America’s ongoing wars. There hasn’t been a major antiwar protest in Washington since Chimpy Bush split town, despite the fact that Obama added Libya to the menu and dramatically ramped up the drone missile bombing campaign. If one were not paying attention, one might be deluded into thinking that President Hopey-Changey has actually done something to warrant having been awarded that Nobel Peace Prize.

The Wisconsin protests of early 2011, coming as they did a half-a-year before the Occupy movement took to the streets, were a real eye opener for many people as they focused the nation’s attention on a direct assault against workers being nakedly directed by the political stooge of a family of oligarch billionaires. THAT was the real issue, and was what really mattered, not the meaningless party label being worn by the empty suit pushing the policy. By allowing the Democratic Party to con them into putting down their signs and redirecting their efforts into the recall election, the protest movement has effectively wasted its time, to say nothing of the countless millions of campaign dollars that merely served to enrich the media conglomerates that provided the advertising time. Plus, it gave the Koch brothers an excuse to spend millions of dollars pumping out their pro-oligarch propaganda in a key state just a few months before a presidential election in which they have vowed to defeat the incumbent because they don’t think he kisses their pasty white asses often enough. Truly a Mission Accomplished all around.

Again, the lesson for the Occupy Movement could not be any clearer: do not ever allow yourselves to be co-opted by the Democrats. Treat that horrible party the same way you would the Republicans, as an enemy never to be trusted. They will just use you in an effort to win elections that have become all but meaningless in terms of change that might benefit the average person. Make no mistake, in our post-Citizens United dystopia the deck is very much stacked against you. The oligarchs have virtually unlimited funds to use against any politician who steps out of line and to utterly crush any viable third party movement. It’s the ultimate uphill battle, but it will always be even harder if you treat one faction of your enemies as if they are your friends.

Bonus: Yet another disaster hits the upper Great Lakes


  1. “This sad state of affairs is going to continue until you accept one incontrovertible fact: that the Democratic Party may actually be a bigger enemy to your cause than the Republicans.”

    Bill, I think you are absolutely right about this. The hypocrisy of the Dems – paying lip service to progressive values and playing identity politics, while enabling the corporatocracy every bit as much as Repubs – places them on an even lower rung in hell than the Repubs, in my opinion.

    And I’m not surprised that the Wisconsin recall failed. It is pure naiveté for the Dems to believe that voters will flock en masse to address the plight of public employees being subject to the same economic ravages private sector employees have faced for years, whether in Wisconsin or nationwide. And to be honest, some of the criticisms of public sector unions and their members are justified. In Massachusetts, state employees enjoy much better job security and benefits - including health care, time off for vacation, sickness or maternity, employment protections, and restrictions on unpaid overtime - than their private sector counterparts. These perks used to be justified on the grounds that public sector jobs don’t pay as well as those in the private sector – except that this hasn’t been true for about twenty years. And while there are many outstanding, dedicated, hard-working, true public servants out there, there is also no shortage of lazy do-nothings and outright scam artists - and the public sector unions protect them. The fact is, many public sector workers don’t have the slightest clue about what it’s like to work in the private sector, and couldn’t have cared less until their own gigs were threatened; these types are every bit as clueless, selfish and entitled as wealthy tax dodgers. I know this because I worked for the state for eight years, in one of the larger state unions, and saw these things first-hand.

    Now some will argue that this attitude just plays into the hands of Walker, the Kochs and their ilk, who are out to break ALL workers. Fair enough. But the fact remains that for the most part the public sector unions stood by while the Corp-Gov syndicate passed NAFTA, declawed Glass-Steagall, broadened visa programs for lower-paid guest workers, and perpetrated myriad other schemes that have all but destroyed the working class and are well into doing the same to the middle class.

    No legitimate opposition will come from any part of the current establishment structure, including the unions, public or private. It must come from outside. The time for reforming the system from within has passed.

    1. Huey - excellent points. The unions should have all stood together starting 40 years ago when these trends started and recognized their own complacency (not simply becoming shill advocates for bad employees would have been a great start). To paraphrase Ben Franklin, by not hanging together they are now all hanging separately.

    2. Bill Hicks:

      The unions couldn't stand together 40 years ago because they were too busy fighting with the hippies. I heard they absolutely hated them, and it caused some serious issues on the left.

      Human nature is corrupt. The public unions are no exception.

      I think what really makes them useless is what makes all of it useless; people are afraid to strike back at power for fear of arrest and losing the job in a bad economy. I saw a meeting about trying to form a grad student union (illegal in this state - they were petitioning to change the law to make it legal). The dudes had an existing organization, but they were basically compliant. They would never strike, even if it WERE legal, even if they had the union. Despite being angry at their situation, they were classical in-the-box thinkers and advocates of "dialog". In the system thinkers.

  2. Excellent post Bill, right on target.

  3. If you ever wondered how the Nazis came to power, just look at what's going on here and now.