Who are they – the half million folks who signed recall Scott Walker petitions? What are their demographics, income levels, education, occupations? And, most importantly, what are their issues?
The Walker supporters would probably call us ignorant liberals, progressives, fools, and worse – but we are a diverse group of intelligent people. Here are some of our stories:
I recently chatted with Jeff, a married and employed attorney in Whitefish Bay. His specialties include negotiations and international practices, and his education includes Yale and Columbia Universities. He also holds a certification from the Parker School in foreign and comparative Law. He has been an advocacy chair for the American Diabetes Association of Wisconsin and donates pro-bono work with children. Jeff feels that Walker’s policies have divided the state as never before (i.e. Voter ID). Taking a cherished American freedom away from Americans is damaging. Changing voting rules is very costly, especially during a budget crisis, and unfair redistricting has enhanced Republican power.
Jeff, who is in his 50s, believes in the greater good for the community rather than the accumulation of material possessions. The lower 50 percent of the income level people would spend more if they had more and could pay more taxes. The wealthy are not really making jobs. Doyle’s budget had a $6.5B deficit which was resolved through successful bargaining (including collective bargaining).
Annie is a 68-year-old retired executive manager. She currently lives in Brown Deer but moved to Wisconsin in 1957. Her 50th wedding anniversary is this April. She has three successful children: an attorney, a teacher and a business manager. Her education includes Manpower Business Technical Institute with a focus on computer programming and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a focus on community education. She has tutored children around Milwaukee for years, teaching math and reading. According to Annie, the children worked hard because they wanted to get a job. She thinks Walker is harming these children and working families by cutting education funding and health care. She asked, “Is it true that Walker wants these children to die mentally and physically? He continues to give huge tax cuts to corporations sending jobs oversea. Walker is dishonest with the people.” She has worked very hard to get as many petition signatures possible to recall Scott Walker.
Bruce B. is a former flight instructor / charter pilot who is in his 50s and now retired. His education includes a B.A. in applied science-aviation. When I asked about his marital status, he replied, “I am single, not allowed to marry (gay).” Bruce grew up in Wisconsin, left for a few years in the mid-70’s (Arizona), then returned and has lived here since.
He claimed: “The issue that bothers me the most: Cutting Badger Care. “I have volunteered at free clinics in Milwaukee since 1978. Cutting Badger Care will wipe out medical care to 64,000 Wisconsin residents, of which 25,000 are children. Given my volunteer background, I can guarantee you that people will die. I suspect it will be mostly women and children, especially infants. Walker and the Republicans who voted to cut Badger Care know that people will die, but don’t care. They think that balancing the budget is a higher priority than life itself. This concept cannot be Christian. Yet the governor holds "prayer breakfasts," and professes to all that he is a Christian. Jesus will judge him.”
Another issue that bothers Bruce: “Cutting education funding by $800 million even as test scores of American students continue to decline, as compared to students in other countries. We used to be #1 compared to the rest of the free world. Now we are #25. It is absurd to cut dollars for education now, with the argument that it will prevent raising taxes.”
Bruce’s other issues include the following:
- Rules, laws, compliance procedures, etc. that used to require a vote in the legislature and senate are now controlled solely by the governor. He can also override a decision in any city, town or other community that he feels is not conducting issues "appropriately." He can assign a person to go into any town, and take over the governing system there. This is a dangerous precedent.
- Walker never mentioned his intent to bust the unions of collective bargaining during his campaign, and only support the unions who endorsed him.
- He has recently appealed to the federal government to allow Wisconsin to be exempt from Medicaid requirements.
- His financial support is from outside of Wisconsin. As an example, the Koch brothers. They gave him large donations during his campaign, and do so now as well. They wish to buy utility firms that are now public utilities. Walker is now in the process of changing the laws to make that possible. The Koch brothers P.A.C., Americans For Prosperity, opened an office across the street from the State Capitol.
- There were fake candidates to force a recall primary. This is actually an issue that is connected to the Alberta Darling recall election, but it is a sleazy way to buy time, and I suspect Walker will do the same during the election process after the recall succeeds. It should be illegal. Yet, the Republicans have made it clear that they are proud of this tool.
- The voter I.D. law. Walker can claim that it is to prevent fraud, but I argue that it is meant to deny the Constitutionally protected rights of those who normally vote Democrat: The disenfranchised and poor, who are unable to advocate for themselves.
- Since he took office, Wisconsin has lost many jobs. He claims to be the job-maker. Yet, it turns out that Wisconsin residents lost more jobs in October and November, 2011, than any other state in the country.
Naomi is a therapist and environmental educator who completed graduate school. She is married with three children and is a member of the 50+ crowd. She said the following: “The issues that really upset me are related to the idea that government, as a representation of the people, is an untrustworthy entity. Our collective resources of goods, energy, finances, talent, education, health care, etc., make for a stronger and healthier society. It is when our entire community is thriving that there is potential for collective happiness and good will. But human communities need help with this, and government is the only fair agent to distribute our resources to all members. I don’t understand how greed is okay, nor how we can continue to punish the poor with bad health care, bad schools, bad housing, and still be called a democratic free society. Granted, there are always some problems in government agencies, but not nearly as corrupt as our current system.
“Governor Walker is trying to privatize Wisconsin, which means there is a private selection of who gets funding and for which projects. The for-profit entities are always trying to use the fewest employees on the cheapest terms. That is how China can pay very young laborers tiny wages for long hours of work. Wisconsin has a proud history of fighting for fair labor and conditions, good schools for all, parks and land preserved for the public. These are the products of the collective population, not the outcome of the select few controlling the resources. We depend upon our educators to bring the next generation to the world ready to read, write, think, plan, and be of good character. Teachers should be treated as professionals.”
These paragraphs could go on and on. We are a diverse group of intelligent thinkers who care about our state, our communities, and our friends and families. This is only a sample of who we are and what we want.
Doris Appelbaum is the founder, chief executive officer and president of Appelbaum’s Resume Professionals Inc. in Glendale.