Wisconsin’s Scott Walker: Barney Fife of Capital

Scott Walker, almost literally standing atop bags of out-of-state corporate swag remains the Republican Party’s Great Extra-White Hope, the scrawny gunslinger for corporate domination of American politics. Walker’s Wisconsin is the architectural model for Republicans’ far-right utopianism: subservient labor, sustained income inequality, skeletal safety net and infrastructure, a tax burden the brunt of which is borne by the middle class, in other words, a set of conditions Republican ideologues mistakenly believe restores or advances some righteous natural order.

In his first address to Congress, Abraham Lincoln said:

“In my present position I could scarcely be justified were I to omit raising a warning voice against this approach of returning despotism. It is not needed nor fitting +here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions, but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government.

“It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not existed.”

Well, I guess that horse is out of the proverbial barn. I imagine one could safely posit that the power of capital over labor has not been so heavily tilted since the early period of American industrialization as it is now, perhaps the current concentration of wealth, and the power of ownership and their ability to crush labor in the marketplace and in the democratic process…and, with so little countervailing government power, perhaps as great as it ever has been. Scott Walker and his Republican legislature in Wisconsin undertook to implement this steroidal feudalism in something of a blitzkrieg.

Interesting as the recall elections are tomorrow, and consequential, attempting to replace Walker, his Lieutenant Governor and Republican state senators I am not one who believes the outcomes will be predictive either way, for the very simple reasons that these elections are now, and those are then, and these are in Wisconsin and the future ones mostly aren’t, with all the variables the differences entail. It is clear however that the Wisconsin political battlefield looks exactly as Republicans hoped it would, including the Republican majority on the Supreme Court, in the aftermath of the Citizens United ruling, money raining down in buckets from corporate special interests, Walker having raised over 30 million dollars, his opponent Tom Barrett a little over 3. Yes, 30 million, along with the many millions in outside spending will buy a lot of television ads and voter influencing propaganda.  Gaming of the process is what Republicans do, and why they still exist. What their capacity to win elections and hold more than nominal representational presence would be denuded of such built-in and reliable advantages is a shivering nakedness I personally would be loathe to look upon.

But whether the recall of Scott Walker and his lieutenant governor and Republican senators tomorrow is wholly or at all successful, the uprising in Wisconsin has been remarkable as well as historic, rank and file Wisconsinites managing to force the scoundrels to stand before the voters again at the very least. How supportive the national Democratic Party has been is a matter of conjecture, and if national Democratic leadership hasn’t been equal in its ardor to that of its rank and file and for a righteous cause it wouldn’t be the first time. But workers and progressives in Wisconsin have been extraordinary.

Recall day will be fascinating though as a test of whether Walker’s bastion of economic and cultural regression can remain intact. Will America’s future, like Walker Wisconsin’s be the Ayn-Randized Republican Party’s, the post-war rise of middle-class economic and political power merely a quaintly unfortunate interlude between the Gilded Age and the feudal restoration? To those who live beyond Wisconsin the Republican vision for the state and for the nation can be assessed as thus: all who believe Mexico really knows how to provide a nice quality of life for the bulk of its citizens is going to love the new Republican economic and social order, where the airtight, uhholy alliance between government and business has rendered its citizens little more than a flock of pigeons, consumers and workers with little standing and scant rights, consumers who can’t consume, and an economy expectedly decrepit: lousy for most, great for a few.

Viva la devolution!

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