Scott Walker's actions since becoming Wisconsin's governor in 2011 have made him not just nationally famous and led to today's events -- he's now the avatar of Republican legislative overreach. Yes, "overreach" and "Republican" have become oxymoronic of late, and Walker himself is giving public voice to a "divide-and-conquer" strategy when it comes to organized labor and collective bargaining. As my former boss Rachel Maddow is fond of saying, they're not embarrassed. That considered, Walker has become the embodiment of the modern Republican identity.
Not just in 2010, when they dominated the midterm elections not just in national races, but (and perhaps more importantly) in state races like his. Not just in the following year, when Walker and fellow Republican governors put into action a dramatic agenda to undermine labor in states from Wisconsin to Ohio to Michigan to Florida. Rightfully, that's earned them a ton of local rebuke, national attention -- and big bucks from national conservatives seeking to make only today's third-ever recall election for a sitting governor into a national referendum on Democrats, on President Obama.
This is not to say that, as Maddow has argued, a loss today would not have profound effects upon Democrats not just named Tom Barrett, who is trying to save face for the White House in their absence from the race. Last night, President Obama sent out a tweet in support and his campaign released this 11th-hour ad this morning, but there are already efforts, as The Hill reports, to limit the political damage.
That said, as Melissa and her guest Marty Beil noted during Sunday's show, though there may be some national implications, this is actually about whether Wisconsin voters (including some Green Bay Packers) show up today, and what they say -- and that fact may be very discomfiting to those hoping that Walker keeps his job after today.
There are signs already that Republicans are scared to death, scared to look, they shook -- all despite fairly positive poll numbers for Walker. Salon reported today on misleading robo-calls telling voters that "if you signed the recall petition, you did not have to vote because that would be your vote." (Heads-up: only folks who wanted Walker out signed the petition.) Walker's folks were shook by early voting, making noise about voter fraud. And that's saying nothing about the "dark money" which is targeting turnout. Mother Jones reports:
Starting last week, a shadowy political group with a generic-sounding name and a scant paper trail unleashed a TV ad campaign in Wisconsin to convince voters that Tuesday's recall elections are "against the Wisconsin way." Bankrolled by the Virginia-based Coalition for American Values (CAV), the ads urge support for Gov. Scott Walker and, instead of attacking his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, they assail the very premise of the recall effort. Though dark-money funded attack ads have flooded the Wisconsin airwaves targeting both candidates in recent months, Barrett supporters worry that CAV's last-minute effort could affect turnout among crucial undecided voters.
What are they so scared of? Well, for one, that anyone might talk about how bad Walker is at his job. Fox News is also doing their best to cover for Walker, it seems. There's a reason for this, folks. Laura Clawson, reporting for Daily Kos:
...for anyone who remains on the fence after his union-busting and his equal pay enforcement repeal and his voter suppression, has to be his poor jobs record. Dogged by Wisconsin having the worst job losses in the country under Walker, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, Walker found numbers he liked better and released them early, preventing comparisons with other states since those numbers haven't yet been released.
Given that the recent history of Republicans on jobs, it's plain that not only does Walker fit right in -- but that he's using a new-school approach to their old-school problem: labor being the underbelly of progressive political campaigns. Republicans have the reputation of being the party of the status quo, but what we're seeing is what our guest Ari Melber described as a "radical restructuring of the status quo." We'll see today if Wisconsin has had enough of that experiment.
Our Sunday segments on Wisconsin, can all be found after the jump. Be sure to tune in tonight to msnbc's live coverage, particularly "The Ed Show," which will be live from Wisconsin at 8pm ET.