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Wisconsin Augurs Dangerous National Trend

Posted: Jun 06, 2012

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican whose agenda of union busting and gutting public services outraged many in the state, became the only governor to have survived a recall election in American history on Tuesday as he prevailed over his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. The tens of millions of dollars poured into his campaign from out-of-state interests, and the national attention that the election has commanded, point to larger trends whereby special-interest money will have the final say in any political contention of significance.

Walker, a Colorado native, started his professional career by peddling warranties for IBM, and later landed a marketing job with the American Red Cross. He rose through Wisconsin Republican ranks when he decided to stay in the state after enrolling at Marquette University in Milwaukee, an institution from which he never graduated.

Walker’s win strikes at the idea that government should be responsible for the wellbeing of Americans -- his victory foreshadows the rise to power of politicians more likely to bow to a rising oligarchy than heed the interests of their constituents -- a disturbing sign given Social Security and Medicare are on the federal chopping block.

With cries of “Walker for president” echoing at his victory rally, some believe that his lopsided win over his Democratic opponent spells trouble for the Obama campaign just five months before the presidential election. Yet, President Obama may be vulnerable not because he went too far to protect the underprivileged, the uninsured and the undocumented, but because he hedged his bet and did not deliver nearly as fully as he had promised to his core constituents.

Another bit of political conventional wisdom has it that Wisconsin’s circumstances, in their uniqueness, cannot have a decisive impact on the presidential election. Moreover, Mitt Romney, who appears painfully comical when trying to wax compassionate about the growing American underclass, may serve as his own worst enemy.

Perhaps Obama will be re-elected. But then what? Many mainstream pundits and politicians, pollsters and media mavens choose to underplay the importance of the solely money-driven political system which goes across party lines to bolster him while keeping the likes of Walker in office. On a national, and increasingly on local levels, money will continue to flow from the special interest coffers of oil companies, arms dealers, Wall Street manipulators and private contractors into the pockets of elected officials, regardless of traditional party and ideological affiliations, further corrupting legislative, executive and judiciary branches.

The system, in its full fruition, may well cut out the “middleman”—American taxpayers and voters.

In this sense, Wisconsin as a traditionally Democratic state, which stands far from the affectations of Washington, Wall Street and Hollywood, serves as a warning. Wherever voters may gather to make their true voices heard, the machine will be there to muffle their cries under an avalanche of special-interest dollars.

Many Americans are sincere in their demand that government curtail public expenditure with the country so deeply in debt. The money, after all, was not spent on hospitals, schools and roads. It has “won” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which furthers hegemony over Southwest Asia to benefit mostly only the wealthiest of Americans. Under President Obama’s watch, just as it was under George W. Bush’s, the money-driven system has bolstered the same military-industrial complex against which Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke so eloquently upon leaving office.

Anything that today’s politicians — bought and sold as they are — say will lack the courage and moral prescience of Eisenhower’s convictions. Meanwhile, the most outraged of voters try to find solace in their cries of “we are the 99%.” They may well be that. Yet Wisconsin showed what happens when they pose a true threat to the status quo and vested interests.

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