June 5th recall election is one of the most important
electoral moments I can remember. This is not due
to its potential impact on the Presidential elections.
The impact, one way or another, will be difficult
to determine. The significance of the recall election
is found in the willingness of thousands of Wisconsin-ites
to fight back against the odds.
elections are difficult to win. There are many people
who simply do not believe in them. Even if they hate
the incumbent they believe that the incumbent should
finish their term. This is a major challenge. The
second factor, very specific to Wisconsin, is the
amazing amount of money that conservative, pro-Governor
Walker forces from all over the country are putting
into the election. It dwarfs anything that the anti-Walker
forces can mount.
forces have to accept that there will be a fundamental
resource imbalance between us and the other side.
Actually, that is normally the way that it is when
you are fighting a ruling elite. They hold most of
the financial cards. As a result, many people are
cowed into silence and fatalism, e.g., “…there
is no point in fighting city hall…”
different took place in Wisconsin
and that is what is amazing. In the aftermath - and
inspired by - the courage displayed in the opening
rounds of the Arab democratic uprisings, thousands
of Wisconsin-ites took the streets in an active protest
against the draconian, anti-worker policies of the
infamous Governor Scott Walker. They did not have
to do that. They could have had one big demonstration;
expressed their outrage; and then gone home in despair.
Instead, they built a resistance movement, one that
influenced people around the country including in
Ohio, and ultimately the Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Together movement.
recall movement was the logical next step after the
initial protests failed to stop the Governor. There
are many people who called for a “general strike”
[stopping all work in a given geographic location]
in order to resist the Governor. While that was not
a bad idea at all, to do a general strike you have
to engage in a lot of preparatory work. One does not
simply call a general strike. You see, if you make
that call and no one shows up you cannot say “…oops…sorry…let’s
try that one more time…” No, it is more like showing
your cards and being trumped by the other side.
US union movement has not
engaged in a real general strike since the Oakland
General Strike of 1946, after which general strikes
were made illegal by the Taft-Hartley Act. As a result,
we have a movement that is, to say the least, out
of practice. As repression against workers gets worse,
we will need to get back in practice but there is
no point to counter-posing a general strike to a recall
movement. The recall movement in Wisconsin
has become a mass affair and progressive forces have
been faced with the real challenge of organizing differently
if they hope to win.
do not want to predict the outcome of June 5th. What
is important is that the fight is taking place and
that representatives of the “99%” are resisting injustice.
There are moments when you simply have to stand against
evil even if it not under the most ideal circumstances.
As my favorite starship captain said in Star
Trek: First Contact, “…We’ve made too many
compromises already, too many retreats…The line must
be drawn here! This far, no farther.”
on June 5th against Governor Walker and the 1%!
can be made to support this fight by contacting the
Wisconsin AFL-CIO through: http://www.standwisconsin.org/]
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with
the Institute for
Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfricaForum and co-author of Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path
toward Social Justice (University of California Press), which examines
the crisis of organized labor in the USA. Click here to contact Mr. Fletcher.