About a month ago, a video from early 2011 surfaced of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker telling his largest contributor that he had a plan to divide and conquer. He was speaking about unions, and it was clear from the video that he had always planned on a strategy that would undercut labor unions in the state... "divide and conquer" them. Labor unions are key supporters of Democratic candidates, and to weaken or eliminate them would strengthen the Republican party's hold on Wisconsin politics. His motives were hardly a matter of budget, just pure politics.
I think it's safe to say that Mr. Walker has achieved the first part of his goal. He has successfully created the most divisive political climate in modern Wisconsin history. It fits the Rovian 50% + 1 electoral strategy... just get one more than half the electorate. It's another way of saying, "Screw the other half of you suckers, you lost." What Walker didn't anticipate was that those suckers would be pissed off and remain so.
Mr. Walker survived the recall, though the Republicans appear to have lost control of the state senate for the time being. He may view this as having met his second goal... the conquering part. In some ways, I hope he does think that. I'd like him to feel a little more confident, so he can repeat some of his politcal gaffes. Of course, he's wrong if he thinks this whole thing is over. While Wisconsin Democrats made some mistakes, ran a candidate that had already lost once to Walker, and did not get as much support as they would have hoped from the national party, they also continued to build their grass roots organization. Sure, they are unhappy and upset thins morning, becasue so many progressive people put so much effort into getting things this far. But I wouldn't say the loyal opposition is ready to roll over. Not hardly.
John Nichols notes in today's Capital Times that retaking the political high ground is a long process, as he recalls legendary progressive Wisconsin governor Robert LaFollette...
"After he got beat in his fight for the Republican nomination for governor in 1898 — at a convention where the money power bribed delegates to block his popular insurgency — La Follette declared: 'Temporary defeat often results in a more decided and lasting victory than one which is too easily achieved.'"
Wisconsin is a progressive state. Our motto is "Forward" and our leading state university's motto is "On, Wisconsin." It's not over.