The cheering in Wisconsin echoed from coast to coast last Tuesday night. Patriots all across the United States shouted victory on street corners, on talk radio, and from every corner of the internet. Why? Because on Tuesday night Scott Walker became the first governor in history to survive a recall election.
I don’t intend to downplay the significance of that election. Scott Walker and the other Republicans who retained their seats deserve to be commended for their hard work and dedication. Granted, the recall election was hard work that should have been unnecessary given the great work already done in Wisconsin, but that is beside the point.
Conservatives have been saying for months that the Wisconsin recall was going to be the bellwether, that it would be the great predictor for the 2012 general election. And while a win is a win, if what happened in Wisconsin Tuesday is truly an indicator of what we will see in November, our troubles are far from over.
The margin of victory was far too narrow. Some of that margin, if rumors are to be believed, must be attributed to likely voter fraud. But regardless, we must square ourselves with the fact that one of the most qualified leaders in the nation barely came out of his recall challenge with a ten point lead.
After all of the bellyaching, because of Scott Walker’s actions, not a single teacher was laid off. And still 45% of the population said “No.”
Because Walker actually made good on his campaign promises to cut spending, Wisconsin will likely finish the year with a surplus. And 45% of the population asked that he be replaced with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (whose record is somewhat less impressive).
Under the Walker Administration, Wisconsin teachers (though they will now have to contribute a small amount to their own benefits packages) will continue to enjoy paying less than they would in any other state. And still nearly half of the state was ready to send him packing.
So what does this mean on a grander scale? If Wisconsin truly is the bellwether, then we as a nation have our work cut out for us. Governor Walker has truly made a difference in his state, and despite his accomplishments enough people believed the union bosses and the media spin to make the race closer than it ever should have been. And make no mistake, Barack Obama has more charisma than Tom Barrett. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to limit him to 45% of the vote in November.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t celebrate what happened in Wisconsin – only that we shouldn’t make the mistake of celebrating it as our victory cheer. Wisconsin was merely the first manifestation of our declaration of War.