Friday, December 11, 2015
Why I Didn't Vote in the 2012 Scott Walker Recall Election
Originally Written on May 4th and 24th, 2012
Edited and Expanded on December 11th, 2015
The following was written in response to a question about whether I would have a reaction to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s endorsement of Scott Walker in the 2012 Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election, in which Walker faced a rematch of the 2010 election. Walker became the Governor of Wisconsin that year, defeating Democratic challenger Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee.
For the majority of the period during which Scott Walker said that he had no plans to turn Wisconsin into a Right-to-Work state, I took the opposite position, but not just out of disagreement with Walker. This put my overall labor policy to the fiscal right of Walker’s.
But later, after discovering, and coming to agree with, Friedrich Hayek’s position on the issue, I changed my position on Right-to-Work laws, because I felt that they impose conditions upon what kinds of contracts people and businesses are allowed to make, and inhibit the obligation of contracts. I felt that to impose these kinds of restrictions upon the people, businesses, and unions of an entire state, is too egregious an incursion into popular liberties.
However, in May 2012, Walker came out in support of Right-to-Work laws, so my reversal on the issue took place at about the same time as Walker’s reversal. My position opposing Right-to-Work makes my overall political positions slightly more palatable to the left.
As a social liberal and an opponent of corporate welfare and personal political corruption, I understand the unpopularity of defending or making excuses for Scott Walker on small government and fiscally conservative grounds.
In general, I see the need for fiscal austerity, and for cuts in the size and scope of government, as well as cuts in government payroll, public services, and taxes. While some solutions to fiscal irresponsibility such as cutting taxes or refraining from implementing federal block-grants of funds to the states, can be seen as putting the cart before the horse, I see this need because I feel that cuts in government services can lead to growth in the size, number, and variety of non-governmental organizations which provide similar services, and can help to avoid the risk of bureaucratic overhead which so often accompanies over-centralized and over-bureaucratized management.
I feel that Wisconsin’s budget crisis is more the fault of the federal government – in particular, the Federal Reserve - than it is the fault of Governor Walker. I am more likely to support austerity when the people decide it’s the appropriate time, not when governors have allowed the federal government to bankrupt state and local governments. It is regrettable that it has taken a divisive governor to advocate for the financial mindset from which the state could have begun to benefit several years ago.
Moreover, it is a pity that Scott Walker has become one of the most prominent poster-boys of austerity in America, when those in Congress and at the Federal Reserve are much more responsible for the mess we are in, than Scott Walker or Chris Christie, being that those in the federal government have spearheaded the bankruptcy of state and local governments, for the benefit of a select group of European bankers and few others.
Walker bore the brunt of criticism that his union-rights-assaulting Budget Repair Bill can only justify itself upon the notion that it would have been inappropriate to accept federal funding for high-speed rail in Wisconsin and its neighboring states.
Indeed, it was Arthur Louis Kohl-Riggs, the young man from Madison who ran against Scott Walker for the Republican nomination in the 2012 recall effort, who said something to the effect of “any reasonable governor would have accepted that federal high-speed rail money” (it was these funds which are said to have created the hole in the state’s budget).
I disagree, and I commend Walker for rejecting it, because I believe that high-speed transportation infrastructure that almost exclusively benefits Midwesterners, does not promote the general welfare of all Americans. I feel that unanimous “general welfare” should be the necessary condition for federal spending.
If Wisconsinites should not be expected to help pay for a bridge in Alaska, why should Alaskans be expected to help pay for high-speed transit infrastructure in Wisconsin? They shouldn’t. Federal funding for transportation infrastructure is fertile ground for mismanagement, over-bureaucratization, personal political corruption, market distortions, and civic discrimination in favor of regional special interests. For Wisconsin or any other state to use federal funds for such regional projects would only serve to excuse pork projects in other parts of the country; to do so would further threaten federal budget stability.
Being that the State of Wisconsin’s involvement in the financial crisis was brought about through over-dependency of the various regional banks on the Federal Reserve, continued dependence on federal funding is no way out of this mess.
Additionally, I believe that the private sector would do a more efficient and responsible job of constructing transportation infrastructure than the government would, and that, if handled by the private sector, there would be less of a chance that those funds would have been diverted to other spending projects, and of ending up in the pockets of politicians and lobbyists. Some might respond to this by saying that the money would end up in the hands of C.E.O.s and the like, and we all know how much Walker likes giving tax breaks to businesses and the wealthy.
Walker and I do not share the same economic nor political philosophy. Although Walker took some steps protecting Wisconsinites from the aforementioned dangers, he failed to take additional steps promoting the political and fiscal independence and sovereignty of the people, the communities, and the state. Walker is a corporatist technocrat who, to some extent, supports states’ rights. I, on the other hand, favor the rights of local communities, and individual liberties.
In contrast to Walker’s strategy of giving tax breaks to the wealthy, I have favored taxing the creation of income disparity. But I also support introducing reforms to foster competition in governance, in order to allow people to choose fair and neutral parties to arbitrate the disputes which they cannot resolve by themselves. This would curb the power of state governments to intervene in such disputes uninvited, and it would allow people to create contracts between themselves, rather than being burdened by legislation which limits their rights to do so.
In my opinion, Walker is not polarizing because he is farther to the right than many Wisconsinites are used to, or would care to tolerate; he is polarizing because - as with any politician, especially a governor or a president – it’s Walker’s way or the highway. But that is the same way things will be if Tom Barrett wins the governor’s seat.
Nobody will be satisfied – and my interpretation of the General Welfare Clause will never be fulfilled – as long as people are not free to vote “none of the above” in every election, with “none” being taken as the final result of that election, without a special election having to take place later. Nobody will be satisfied as long as people cannot choose to be governed by any agency other than the federal government, and the state and local governments, which function as little more than federal subsidiaries.
Nobody will be satisfied as long as governments are not permitted to compete across state borders, which – given that all government-administered distribution of goods and services is inherently commercial in nature – flies in the face of a rational revisitation of the strict-constructionist interpretation of the Interstate Commerce Clause.
Additionally, the only politician who will not be a polarizing influence, is a candidate who lets people refrain from associating politically with people whose ideologies are nearly, or completely, irreconcilable with their own.
In these disastrous economic times, during which - the data I have encountered would seem to indicate – the federal government is approximately four decades’ worth of annual revenue in debt, it comes as no surprise that we are experiencing a very divisive atmosphere in regards to the intersection of finance and civics.
But the staunch big-government supporters and the staunch small-government supporters have forgotten that it is their mutual opposition to the center’s corruption and its belligerence on foreign policy which typically unites them, when indeed they are united, however temporarily and tentatively. One can only wonder how the various extremist civic-financial factions would work out their differences once the expensive specter of the military-industrial complex were removed from the equation.
Polarizing, extremist politicians are in-style this political season. While figures like Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, and John Boehner are polarizing, they are not extremists. Many Americans have come to see the benefits of the unity of extremists of both sides, particularly in regards to foreign policy, civil liberties, and campaign reform (I’m speaking of the “libertarian-progressive alliance” between the likes of Ron Paul and Ralph Nader). It is these so-called extremists who escape the false dichotomy of bipartisanship, and which venture into the yet-untreaded realm of non-partisanship and “trans-partisanship”. The most prominent so-called extremists – people like Ron Paul and Gary Johnson – are somehow not polarizing; Paul, who has said that there is too much partisanship in Washington, D.C., has been described as “trans-partisan”.
I feel that all this demonstrates that what we need is not “compromise, not capitulation” (as Democratic congressman Mark Pocan put it), but “consensus, not compromise”. This premise, and the premise of “principles over pragmatism”, would help satisfy the constitutional requirement that federal spending and legislation benefit the general welfare, ensuring that people need not compromise-away their principles and property to get the government services they need.
Fiscal sanity – although not the Scott Walker style soft money and tax breaks for businesses and the wealthy – helps the pocketbooks of all Americans. A humble foreign policy with a strong national defense – not George W. Bush style interventionist military belligerence – makes all Americans safer.
It benefits all Americans to demonstrate that laissez-faire capitalism is not irreconcilable with the destruction of artificial hierarchies, and that it is irreconcilable with evils like coercive expropriation (i.e., legitimized theft by government), and an expensive warfare state which is financed and perpetuated through its own power to compel persons to come to it exclusively for protection and justice.
The dual-federalist solution - and the validity of the idea behind Reagan’s “vote with your feet” catch-all solution - notwithstanding, the minuscule degrees of sovereignty possessed by the state and local governments are no viable competition against this Leviathan monopoly government, as they have largely surrendered their authorities and responsibilities in exchange for monetary favors (such as would have been the case with Wisconsin and the federal high-speed rail money), becoming all but vertically-integrated subsidiaries of the oligopolistic corporate United States federal Government.
The only way to undermine this artificial near-oligopoly government is to fulfill the meaning of our nation’s creed; that “all men are created equal, and endowed… with certain inalienable rights”; that the only legitimate government gets its authority through consensual delegation by the governed, who originally possess those authorities. Additionally, that all government spending should serve the welfare of all partners and parties to political associations, unless such parties agree that democratic reform is worth its risks, and agree to bind themselves to its decision-making processes, but revocably, and of their own volition.
While I am a market-anarchist, I am also a republican, but only in that republicanism is a means to an end. I respect so-called extremists from both ends of the economic spectrum, because they have goals, and are true to their ideologies. The only things that the often polarizing, non- “extremist”, “pragmatic” Democrats and Republicans, have to offer us, are an all-or-nothing, “my way or the highway” mindset, and a political culture in which about 49% of the people are dissatisfied and envious of those whom are better represented.
In 1980, Scott Walker benefactor David Koch (of the infamous Koch brothers) was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for vice president. Then, libertarians knew he wasn’t one of them – denouncing the growing influence of the “Kochtopus” on the party and its platform - and they know today that he isn’t one of them.
Those on the extreme left – for the sake of a chance at a humble foreign policy – owe it to libertarians to permit an attempt to prove that libertarianism is not about corruption, nor corporate tyranny, nor slavery, but about discovering to what extent any existing corporate tyranny is the fault of the government; of centralized state power.
The results of a political quiz I recently took, shows that libertarianism is nowhere near as “all-or-nothing” as the framed, false dichotomy of the “left-vs.-right”, Democrat vs. Republican debate; the quiz described me as, first, a Libertarian Party sympathizer, a Green Party sympathizer second, a Republican third, and a Democrat fourth.
As German military officer turned nonuagenarian acid freak Ernst Junger, once said (to paraphrase), there is no left-vs.-right; there is only centralization of power vs. diffusion of power. And who would know better than a German military officer turned acid freak?
In conclusion, I am not going to vote in the recall election. I will vote in a Wisconsin gubernatorial election, when, and only when, a candidate makes credible promises to start issuing passports on behalf of the state (treating the state as a country foreign to the federal government); to advocate for the construction of consular offices with the purposes of establishing diplomacy with the foreign, alien federal government; to re-assert the state’s status as free, independent, and sovereign (a status which has been referenced in official federal government documents spanning from 1778 to 2009); and to push for full-reserve banking at the federal level, or, failing that, to push for permits for the states and private persons to introduce competition into the market for currency.
Until that day comes, I urge my fellow Wisconsinites to vote “none of the above” if that is an option. I also urge them, when making excuses for their representatives at any and all levels of government, to remember that we are only presumed to have consented to delegate powers to them, and that we only become citizens of the many legal jurisdictions by accident of birth or our parents’ travel.
Additionally, I will decline to support Tom Barrett because of his association with Rahm Emanuel, his pro- big business attitudes, his support for gun control, and the prospect that his support of Big Labor will only serve to augment the power of government to set conditions for union strikes, and serve as an impediment to the creation of new unions.