Wisconsin Recall: Take the Inkblot Test

Wisconsinites vote today on the recall of Governor Scott Walker. The recall provides an inkblot test for us about how we see politics and public life. I’ve laid out four possible options from which to choose – which one best fits your view? And how do these maybe help you to see another point of view? The recall campaign (which, actually, is structured as a race between the governor and a Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett) reflects the current political environment: nasty, contentious, expensive, and with lots of outside groups elbowing their way into Wisconsin affairs. At issue beyond the horse-race aspect of all this – who will benefit: Romney or Obama? – is the underlying meaning about what is happening there; and the implications for the rest of us.

Below are the four options for you to consider. Which one comes closest to what you think the recall represents; and how might the others affect your own thinking?

  • The Wisconsin recall is plain and simple about a governor who over-reached his authority and election mandate in his interactions with public sector workers and in making deep budget cuts.
  • The possible defeat of the recall would reflect people’s desire to deal with seemingly intractable problems where tough decisions, even unpopular ones, must be made to get our house in order.
  • While people say they want leadership, ultimately, they refuse to back leaders who step forward and try to lead. This is a warning to other bold leaders.
  • If only the governor and his supporters had been willing to “negotiate in good faith” with their Democratic counterparts, they could have reached a better solution, and all of mess might have been avoided.

Of course, as you consider these options, you may add a fifth or sixth – please do! Nonetheless, wherever you end up, tell us about why you came to the view you have; what, if anything, you struggled with; and what you think the implications are moving forward.

Look forward to our conversation together!