Walker’s historic win just a step for GOP
Walker’s historic win just a step for GOP
GOP needs to embrace reform agendaWaukesha Freeman Page A8 Opinion June 6, 2013
This week Republicans and much of Wisconsin are celebrating the one-year anniversary of Gov. Scott Walker’s win in the recall election. It was a tremendous victory for Walker, and it has had an impact beyond the election.
Walker’s win was significant because it meant that an elected official could take on the liberal special interests, hold the line on government spending, and the public would support him.
The ripple effects of Walker’s win go far beyond Wisconsin. Louisiana eliminated the income tax. Indiana expanded school choice statewide and became a right-to-work state. Michigan, home of the auto workers unions, became a right-to-work state.
Walker gained national attention for his courageous stand and the passage of Act 10. Some are even speculating on a run for the White House for the governor.
At the state level, Walker’s win means he is a heavy favorite to win re-election in 2014. With his national fundraising base, Democrats will have a hard time recruiting an opponent.
Wisconsin Democrats are having their annual convention this weekend in Oconomowoc. They may want to venture out of the convention hall and ask some Waukesha County residents where the Democrats went wrong.
The Democrats might learn that outside of Madison, the rest of the state got a good view of the unfettered left, and they didn’t like what they saw.
Democratic state senators fleeing the state, protesters occupying the Capitol, more protesters carrying signs comparing the governor to Hitler, it wasn’t a pretty sight.
Then the Democratic Party tantrum spilled over into a corruption of the recall process. By the time the Democrats got to recalling Walker, the state was tired of the whole sordid spectacle. Oh, and Act 10 was working.
That does not mean that the Republicans can just coast through the next election cycle. State Rep. Dale Kooyenga’s tax cut proposal still does not undo the tax hikes of the Doyle era. School choice is stalling because some Senate Republicans see education dollars as funding school districts instead of funding kids’ educations. At least Walker’s health care plan may still make it through the Legislature.
After the current state budget debate is settled, Republicans need to start thinking about their next agenda. Walker’s victory in the recall election showed that a conservative reform agenda can be a winning political agenda.
That means Republicans will have to take on issues like education and the size of state government. Promising to be better caretakers of the welfare state is not enough. The Democrats can always promise more because they don’t care how it’s paid for. They’ll just raise taxes and fees.
Wisconsin still has a long way to go. Our business climate is improving, but Illinois’ taxes are still lower despite their budget problems. Republicans have to show that there was a purpose to Walker winning the recall election.
As the late Margaret Thatcher would advise, now is not the time to go wobbly.
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In a bill written by state Rep. Jeff Stone, recalls would be limited to instances of when a public official is charged with a crime or violating an ethics law. It’s hard not to be sympathetic to Republicans who were the targets of a recall process gone awry.
However, Stone’s limiting criteria would make the recall process superfluous. Members of the Legislature can be removed by their peers for the same reasons. If a politician is convicted of a felony, they’re gone from office anyway. There would be no need to wait for a recall.
The continued outrage that many feel toward public officials who signed the recall petitions may do more to limit recalls in the future than any legislation in Madison. The outcome of the Walker recall election will discourage anyone from trying to recall a sitting governor again in our lifetime, The public already has the power to limit the use of recalls by voting no. Let’s leave the limiting of the recall process in the hands of the people. Republicans should not see Walker’s win as a mandate to change the recall law.
(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)