Never forget: If someone has a different opinion than you then they are “bad.” I, for one, still remember the basic lessons of kindergarten even if the rest of you have long forgotten.
This week in Wisconsin was a battle of epic distortions. No, not Scott Walker vs. Tom Barrett. That was a red herring.
Despite what Chicken Little told you about the legendary “lamestream” leftist media in this country, the truth is far simpler than that. It has a little something to do with the phrase, “If it bleeds it leads.” Corporations exist to make profits. Billionaires have lower tax rates. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape. And the media, left, right or otherwise, likes to manufacture narratives to sell its product. Sensationalism is the low-hanging fruit of news. They are all about the flimflam. Metrics must be driven, like into the ground.
Thankfully I see it as my civic duty to shine the light of truth on the recent high jinks in Wisconsin.
This minor little fracas in Wisconsin was not the bellwether end-all prognostication of the 2012 presidential election. For weeks we’ve been fed the hype from talking heads and experts, which was happily passed along by our friends in the media: Scott Walker’s fate would determine the fate of the entire galaxy. If Walker lost then Romney was dog meat. If Walker won then Obama’s hope would turn into nope.
The only problem? That’s the wrong damn narrative.
In 2010 Scott Walker was elected the 45th governor of the Great State of Wisconsin. (He had tried previously in 2006 but couldn’t raise enough money and dropped out.) His campaign focused reduced taxes and reduced spending.
Wisconsin is a “blue state.” It has voted for the Democratic candidate in every election since 1988. That’s six times elections in a row. Since 1972 it has voted Democratic 7 out of 10 times.
In 2012, though, it is considered a “swing state” that currently is leaning slightly in Obama’s favor. With Walker successfully fighting off a recall, the consensus seems to be that Republican’s chances to snatch Wisconsin’s electoral votes just improved.
Yep. Wrong narrative.
Here’s the narrative that I claim is more accurate. Take it for a “spin” and see what you think.
A Republican wins the Governor seat in a blue state. He then makes a highly controversial move and pisses off enough voters that a recall effort against him is initiated. The recall effort is successful at forcing a recall election.
Sure, there were enough pissed off voters to get the thing on the ballot, but the effort was a long shot from the day it was conceived. In the entire history of the United States of America only three governors have ever faced recall elections. (There was a fourth, Evan Mecham, Governor of Arizona in 1988, but the election never happened because he was impeached.)
How many governors have there been in United States history? I don’t know. A lot. And Scott Walker is one of an elite group of three to ever faced down a recall election. The other two lost and Walker clung to his seat with 54% of the vote.
Thus, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin becomes a governor “outlier.” One of the proud. One of the few.
The story here isn’t that he “won.” It’s that, pretty much, he hung on to a job that he already had by the skin of his teeth. That doesn’t sound quite as exciting, though, does it?
This is not the gigantor game-changer that it is being made out to be. It is the victors who traditionally rewrite history, isn’t it?
A possible alternative narrative is that Walker, win, lose or draw, is already one loser of a governor for being on the third governor in history to stare down a recall election.
It’s a great win, some say, because of the other odds that Walker faced. The “union money” and the “buses” of organized protests and such. Don’t buy it. This particular election is a fascinating study of the power of big money to influence elections. And despite the hubbub, it wasn’t “union money.”
Scott Walker outspent Tom Barrett by more than 7 to 1.
Think money doesn’t matter in elections? It was the most expensive race in Wisconsin history and the candidate with seven times more money got 54 percent of the vote. Interesting.
Where did Walker get his war chest? Two-thirds came from “out-of-state donors.” The out-of-state money came from “mostly rich guys who hate unions.” (Source: LA Times.)
BIG OUT-OF-STATE MONEY EEKS OUT VICTORY FOR EMBATTLED GOVERNOR STRUGGLING TO KEEP HIS JOB
As headlines go, that one needs a lot of work. For one thing it’s way too long. But that’s my proposal for the real narrative about the Scott Walker recall attempt. That some people are out celebrating this as some kind of “win” boggles my mind.