Today is a good day. Today we have a glimmer of hope for the return of common sense governance and fiscal responsibility. Gov. Scott Walker last night prevailed in only the 3rd recall attempt of a sitting Governor in US history. The only one to do so.
He can justifiably point to his record of accomplishment, even more remarkable given the atmosphere of the capitol over the last 18 months: He turned a $3B+ deficit into a $100M+ surplus without tax increases or layoffs, he addressed structural problems with how the state ran it's budgetary process and he helped create nearly 30,000 (net) new jobs over the last year, reducing the unemployment rate by a full percentage point. Quite remarkable, given the opposition in Madison, the slowness of the national "recovery" and in comparison with the nearby, liberal-run states of Illinois and Minnesota, both of which decided to deal with their economic problems by dramatically raising taxes and government spending (an action that has proven either ineffective or destructive).
It now remains to be seen how many adults we have on both sides of this conflict. The election is over. The people have spoken. Gov Walker won this election with larger margins than he did in the initial race in 2010. He now, for all intents and purposes, can consider himself to have a mandate to move ahead with the implementation of his policies.
The Democrats, in order to hold on to any semblance of legitimacy, need to work with the Governor in his attempts to better the state's economy and improve the lives of Wisconsin's citizens. This is not to say that they need to roll over and play dead, but they can't continue the childishness of refusing to do the job they were elected to do. They can't all run away to Illinois whenever there's a vote on a piece of legislation they don't like but don't have the votes to stop. If they have an honest objection to a piece of legislation, they need to do their jobs and voice these objections in open debate. They need to try to convince enough of the "opposition" of the validity of their arguments to join with them in voting against. When they return to their districts to meet with their constituencies, they need to honestly seek their input and represent them when they return to Madison.
If Gov. Walker's policies prove (as they seem to have so far) to be good for the state and for it's people, their honest cooperation and the finding of common ground in helping to improve the fortunes of Wisconsin will only strengthen their reputations as true statesmen and -women. If they remain stubbornly opposed to even the most obviously common sense of reforms and Walker's policies aren't the disaster they predict, they only prove themselves more interested in political victory than in doing what's right for the citizens they're supposed to represent.
If, on the other hand, they stand on principle; if they voice honest objection to policies, as opposed to simple obstructionism, they will be credited even by their political adversaries with sincerely doing what they believe right for the voters. Should Walker's policies not prove effective, this honest disagreement will do much more to further their political futures than any amount of "finger in the wind", poll-tested grandstanding.
On Walker's side, they need to avoid any appearance of bullying of the minority. Gov. Walker's victory speech was full of references to "the election is over, it's time for all Wisconsinite's to come together and move forward", "we need to work to heal our divided state", "we need to begin tomorrow to communicate with each other and build our future". Without caving to opposition demands, he still needs to follow up on all the hi-sounding rhetoric. He needs not only to keep his promises to work with the Democrats, he needs to be SEEN to do so. Publicly, and often.
One of the most common complaints from his detractors was that he ignored their concerns and "rammed his agenda down our throats". Whether or not the Dems have employed the same tactics themselves in the past is irrelevant. He's made these promises, he needs to follow through. Publicly. Not simply because it's his job to be Governor of all of Wisconsin, not just because it's the right thing to do, but for the same political realities facing the Democrats.
If he's seen to sincerely try to work with the opposition and is obviously meeting with active attempts at blocking votes on legislation, "bad faith" bargaining , and constant attempts to undermine the success of his programs and policy initiatives for no other reason than political opposition and payback, the public will be much more sympathetic and accepting when/if he needs to resort to more hardball political & legislative tactics. If he doesn't at least try to get the Dems to engage in the governance of the state and takes a "my way or the highway" attitude to debate and policy decisions, it won't matter how effective his administration's policies are.
The next 24 months will tell the tale. Will Gov Walker and the Dems be able to get beyond the acrimony of the recall and work together for the common good of their state and it's citizens or will the partisanship calcify? Will the Democrats and the public sector unions, after losing 3 attempts to change the 2010 elections after the fact, accept the vote, and the evident will of the people, or will they continue to mount court challenges until the 2014 elections? Given the proliferation of actual death threats lodged against Gov Walker, his Lt. Gov, the Senators that withstood recall elections of their own and their families, I have my doubts about the maturity of the liberal side of the state's electorate. Threatening to kill someone for no other reason than a political disagreement and because he won an election and your guy didn't? That is a strong indication of serious mental issues. These threats should be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted. If these people are even half serious they are and should be considered dangerous. Both parties need to denounce such behavior in the strongest possible terms.
The election is over. Both sides have had their "3 at-bats". It's time to quit playing games and get on with the serious business they were elected to perform. At least, until the next election.......