The title isn’t meant to suggest the state of Wisconsin is facing End Times, or that Michelle Bachmann has declared a fatwa for the biblical destruction of the whole state. Actually, it’s an expression of the reverse, hope that Wisconsin voters today strike a blow, the rarest sort of occurrence these days, against the Republican-Media-Corporate machine that seems to run the country even when only a minor component of the government, and whose policies during their single party rule earlier in the decade massively and multifariously wrecked the country in plain view.
In order to flip control of the Wisconsin senate, whose Republican majority has abetted far-right strongman governor Scott Walker in blitzing the state’s middle class back to the Stone Age, three of the six Republicans facing recall elections must lose. The unprecedented nature of such a slew of simultaneous recalls makes it impossible to develop a reliable polling model, so nobody has a credible clue how it will turn out. But it looks from this vantage point as though there may be presidential-level turnout in the state today. And there is no question unions and Democrats and activist groups have put ferocious energy into the effort to retaliate against the attempted death blow aimed at unions, teachers, the Democratic Party and middle-class Wisconsinites by Walker and his legislative helpmates. Likewise, the Koch brothers and every other ultra-right political money spigot in the country have been flooding Wisconsin Republicans with cash.
The significance of what happens today can’t be underestimated. The state Democratic Party, unions and rank and file citizens of Wisconsin have been, as I have written before, nothing less than estimable role models for the reality-based community in the rest of the nation, demonstrating, that somewhere at least, there is an appropriate level of outrage and the right example: when attacked, answer in kind. It’s no minor or insignificant thing to recognize that one, whether liking it or not, has been thrust into a state of war. And in war, you really have only the choices of fighting or losing. In Wisconsin, unlike say, the White House, there is the recognition of such an unwelcome and extreme state rather than the willful, apprehensive lack of recognition, persistent illusion and plain denial in the executive branch.
One could point out that efforts by Governor Walker and Wisconsin Republicans to terminate collective bargaining rights, to cut education in order to lower bottomed out corporate taxes even lower, to exploit the excuse of a phony deficit crisis to strip bare the social safety net (familiar, huh?) was especially brazen. But the fact is that America’s middle class, whether it is aware of it or not, has for some time been under an even more sustained and lethal attack, and to which in truth, there has been little to no effective counterattack.
In fact, in almost every area of national political and cultural life ranging from economics to science or any area one can mention, factuality, truth and reality have been under blatant and unashamed attack, a raised level of propagandistic assault I can only classify as of a genuinely Orwellian character, and for that reason, only accurately classified as vicious, if not evil. This is a time of profound vulnerability for the nation, one of those historical moments when chaos and economic degradation can open the way for extreme and brutal regimes to come to power. Yes, even here.
It appears the battle will have to be jointed without cooperative assistance from the White House, which has convinced itself it must do some sort of political penance in the eyes of a mythologically large and powerful group of “independent voters” for health reform and the earlier stimulus plan. At least in Wisconsin, survival minded people understand the stakes, and win or lose, they’re engaged in that most refreshing and critical act: fighting like hell.