Herewith 10 random thoughts on the election results in the Wisconsin recall election:
1. In a sense the public sector unions that brought it on lost the election before the first vote was counted. Their chosen candidate (Kathleen Falk) could not even prevail in the Democratic primary. Instead Wisconsin Democrats opted for a rerun of the 2010 gubernatorial election between Walker and Barrett. With even higher voter turnout in the recall election than in 2010, Walker amplified his margin of victory (53-46 last night, 52-47 in 2010).
2. Why might that be? Among other things, Walker’s policies have succeeded in resolving the fiscal hole he inherited upon entering office. Barrett’s campaign did not even attack the efficacy of the reforms that Walker initiated and implemented. If Barrett had won, the reforms would not even have been rolled back.
3. So what was Barrett’s attack on Walker? According to Barrett, Walker’s reforms were “divisive” and Walker wanted to divide the people of Wisconsin. What pious liberal baloney. What utter bovine you-know-what.
4. Think back to the lawless rampage that the Democrats, the unions, and their supporters unleashed in response to Governor Walker’s proposals: the fleebaggers’ escape to Illinois, the occupation of the capitol, the riotous revolutionary atmosphere, the namecalling and violence. Ah, the sweet politics of consensus.
5. Indeed, the run-up to the recall gave us new frontiers in thuggery, with the surveillance state mailer threatening nonvoters to turn out (how’d that work out for ya, jerks?). We are in something like a death struggle with the forces of the left.
6. The gap in time between the implementation of the Walker reforms and the recall election was just enough to show their efficacy. Conservatives have this in their favor. Conservative policies work. Thus the violence, the intimidation and all the rest of the production brought by the unions to obscure the efficacy of Walker’s reforms. These folks were not looking to debate the merits.
7. Much of the commentary this morning refers to the financial disparity between the forces supporting Walker and those supporting the recall. Whatever financial advantage accrued to Walker, it was secondary to the facts that money couldn’t buy or change or conceal. Walker’s reforms have worked.
8. Governor Walker is the first incumbent governor to be subject to a recall election and prevail. He emerges from the recall election a heroic figure in Republican politics. He maintained his composure. He set an example of civility. He faced down Goliath. He showed leadership and succeeded.
9. University of Chicago Professor Charles Lipson writes with four takeaways from last night’s election. He holds that Walker’s victory is a big deal for four reasons:
It squashes the Democrats in the most important by-election of the year. It suggests that Republican and moderate Democratic governors can retain voter support even if they take on public-sector unions (and perhaps because they take on public-sector unions). Other governors and mayors, eager to restrain spending, will take heart from that. It spells big trouble for unions, which is why they fought so hard to recall him and why conservatives fought so hard to keep him. After all, unions have already faded away in private industry. They have grown only in the public sector. If they lose the right to keep a closed-shop for government workers, their future is bleak. It will lead to fierce recrimination among the losers; unions will point the finger at Obama. They will say, “We were here for you in 2008 and in all the big fights–for the stimulus, health care, and so on. But you bailed on us.” He flew right over Wisconsin on Friday, traveling between fundraisers in Minneapolis and Chicago. Sure, the unions would rather keep Obama than deal with Romney, but the fizz has gone out of that champagne.
10. The device of the recall election is a relic of the Progressive era in Wisconsin politics. How sweet for it to vindicate Governor Walker and his reforms last night.