Back in high school, I had a friend named Larry.
Larry was one of those kids you find a lot in high school – extremely intelligent, fairly articulate, disaffected and out of step with the larger culture in which he found himself, a sharp observer (as those on the outside tend to be), somewhat cynical in the way of teenaged guys, but a good soul in general. We were theater rats together, and thanks to the categorical imperative of alphabetical seating we spent four years in homeroom sitting one behind the other.
“The problem with democracy,” he once told me, “is that most people are idiots.”
I find that this is always a good thing to remember come election time, particularly when the results are so convincingly in favor of what is, by any objective measure, a stupid choice.
Wisconsin went to the polls yesterday for its eagerly anticipated recall elections. I was there bright and early – voter number 81 in my ward, at 8:15am – and participation was heavy throughout the day everywhere in the state. Everyone knew it would come down to turnout, and so it did.
Having outspent his rival by roughly 8:1, two thirds of which was siphoned into Wisconsin by out of state donors who don’t have to live with the consequences of their actions, Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) managed to pull of more or less the same victory he pulled off in 2010.
This says to me that even after the damage that he has caused to our schools, our business climate, our economy, our communities, our tradition of open and ethical government, and our system of checks and balances, the people who voted for him last time said to themselves, “Hell yeah! That’s what we want!” and voted for him again.
So I was wrong about how close the election would be, since it was a far larger gap than 0.5%, and I was wrong about the results depending on the ideologically extreme suburbs of Milwaukee, since their vote totals were subsumed into the larger victory. On the one hand, this is good – it means that this won’t drag on. On the other hand, I have no doubt that Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) will interpret this as a mandate to crush his opponents even more than he already has, subvert Wisconsin’s institutions and laws even more than he already has, and in general accelerate the path toward destruction that he has already placed us on.
Because apparently that’s what the majority of the citizens of Wisconsin want.
It’s one thing to be fooled by a tin-horn petty tyrant. It’s quite another to keep him in office voluntarily, knowing ahead of time what you're signing up for.
I am not sure I want to live among people who find his behavior acceptable. This may require moving to a more American state, if I can find one in the current degraded condition of the republic.
Larry, you were more prescient than you knew.