For those of you who have read many of my previous blogs, you are well aware that politically I am slightly left of center. At times it is difficult for me to step back and look at the situation without my liberal bias affecting my perception. However, I have been thinking about the turmoil leading to the recall election and have come to the conclusion that the basis for the recall isn’t political, but purely psychological.
Even before Scott Walker was sworn in as governor, everyone who paid the least bit of attention knew that he was going to make cuts to state employees’ wages and benefits. Most thought he would do as Jim Doyle had done and either freeze increases or force wage and benefit rollbacks. But, shortly after being sworn in he did the unexpected; he proposed the legislation that resulted in Act 10. This resulted in a major redirection of the state that broke a 50-year precedent. This was the opening salvo of the political war.
If you talk to most people who support the recall, they’ll reel off a number of reasons for the calling of a recall.
- The justification that the governor used to balance the budget deficit and the means he chooses to do it. He claimed the state was broke, when for all intents and purposes the state wasn’t broke but was experiencing a revenue shortfall brought on by the recession.
- The haste, at which legislation was introduced, passed and signed into law.
- The restrictions to union collective bargaining.
- The draconian cutting of the state’s share of funding to state K-12 education.
- The draconian cutting of the state’s share of funding to higher education.
- The radical redirection of state funding to support business and the wealthy.
- Cutting the state’s share of funds to support the poor and elderly.
- The changes to Badgercare and aid to the disabled.
- The shift of key posts within departmental administrations from civil service to political appointees.
- The Voter ID law.
- The law allowing concealed carry.
- The defunding of Planned Parenthood clinics.
- The law changing sex education in the public schools.
- The legislative redistricting.
I am sure I have missed a few, but I think, you the reader are familiar enough to concur that these are the stated reasons for pushing the recall. However, the true reason is not listed.
Human beings, like other animals, are creatures of habit and surety of future expectations. These basic characteristics make us highly resistant to change and seek the familiar. Just as physical evolution and adaptation happen over a long course of time; change and social adaption also require sufficient time to be assimilated. This is the significant difference between revolutionary change and evolutionary change. Since the Republicans have taken complete control of all branches of the state government, they have introduced a rate of change unsustainable by most folks and for lack of a better term are revolutionary.
Whether you see it as positive or negative; the amount of legislation and change that the Republicans have achieved in less than a year, would at any other time be remarkable if it had been accomplished over the course of one or two gubernatorial terms.
I don’t know the exact reasons that the Republicans chose to move so rapidly, like in a blitz Krieg fashion, but it is clear as to what the impact has been; a rift within the state that can’t be easily healed. Tom Barrett is correct in his assessment that it has led to a political civil war dividing the state's citizens.
I fault the Republicans for not understanding or perhaps not caring what the reactions would be. The strategies for rapid and decisive change have been completely mismanaged. When change is managed at the proper rate it gives those affected sufficient time to adjust. Without time to adjust it feels overwhelming and forced; and, more often than not creates a reverse reaction proportional to the feelings of being overpowered.
The real reason for the recalls simply come down to being overwhelmed by changes brought too fast and too far-reaching for people to adjust.