Wisconsin Voters Should Have Gotten It Right the First Time

Recalls would not be needed if voters educated themselves the first time.

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Four of six GOP state senators held onto their seats in a recall election Tuesday in Wisconsin. Now I love the democratic process and feel it's not only a right, but a privilege and obligation to vote.

So when I look at the Wisconsin recall election, it begs me to ask…

Why can't we get it right the first time? [See photos of the Wisconsin protests.]

I live in California. A state that became famous for our gubernatorial recall. The former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was challenged by a man who had no political experience, and, in hindsight, had no business running for or certainly being elected governor of the state of California—Arnold Schwarzenegger.  "The Arnold" had a lot of money, huge name recognition, and drew throngs of voters based on his being a celebrity, a movie star.  Voters came out in droves, but for all the wrong reasons. Ironically enough, Davis was recalled due to California's economy going to hell in a handbag; when the "Governator" left office, the state was worse than anyone could imagine Davis would've left it.

And in 2008, the nation jumped on the Hope and Change train. I was one of them.  A young senator named Barack Obama spoke of reforming healthcare, turning the economy around, creating jobs, finding a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and ensuring civil rights--more than just civil unions--for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. More minority, women, and youth voters turned out to vote than ever before. And what happened when the president and a Democratic Congress didn't deliver the goods within two years?  They threw the incumbents out. "They" are the Tea-publicans.  And what happened to those young, female, and minority Democrats? They stayed home. [See a collection of political cartoons on the Tea Party.]

In Wisconsin it's definitely different than in California or our nation. Nine months ago many Republicans voted a GOP governor into office and selected a majority of Republicans to run their state legislature based on their campaign promises, their pledge to the people of Wisconsin.  The Republicans never mentioned trying to virtually eliminate all unions, cut the pay of those in the public sector, their healthcare benefits, their pensions, and remove the ability to collectively bargain. The people revolted. Democrats revolted, so did working class independents, and Republicans; and the results of that revolt played out yesterday in this recall.

But I wonder....nine months ago, did those working class independents and Democrats stay home? Did they really believe a Republican would care more about education, pensions, and government workers' jobs?  I am glad the people of Wisconsin had their chance to "do over." We as voters need to educate ourselves on the issues and on what the candidates truly stand for. And of course, we need to show up to vote; put down the Häagen-Dazs and the remote and get our butt off the La-Z-Boy. Whether it's California, Wisconsin or America; as voters, we need to do it right the first time.

  • Read more about the 2012 presidential election.
  • See a collection of political cartoons on the GOP hopefuls.
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