There's a line from Pulp Fiction that comes to mind in the aftermath of yesterday's recall elections. It was delivered by "The Wolf" (played by Harvey Keitel) to Jules and Vincent Vega (Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta) after they were all proud of themselves for cleaning up the blood-soaked car before "Bonnie" got home to catch them. Because it's from Pulp Fiction I can't actually use it on the air--but suffice it to say, it meant "let's not celebrate prematurely here, boys."
And that is the message to keep in mind for those who supported Governor Scott Walker--nothing has been "won" yet. To me, "victory" will come when the next budget is balanced without any refinancing of debt or further borrowing. "Victory" will be when spending programs are sustainable--and we aren't promising more to people than can actually be delivered by those footing the bill. And "victory" will come when the State has reserves that will help it weather the inevitable ups and downs of the economy and tax revenues--so that massive layoffs and employee concessions can be avoided.
And believe me, attaining that "win" will be even more challenging in the future. The economy isn't going anywhere fast--and changes are coming down the pike that will push it even deeper into the quicksand. There may not be anyone who wants to be Governor in 2014 when the number of people flocking to Badgercare overwhelms the state coffers. The people touting the "most important election of my lifetime" stuff this week will look back in November of this year and realize this was small beans (barring relief from the Supreme Court this summer).
Long story short--if people don't see the changes "working" in 2014--they will be more than happy to throw the whole thing out and head back in some other different direction again.
And all of this talk about unions being the "big losers" last night--I see it as quite the contrary. The chance for requiem in the eyes of the rest of us is now in front of you. Go back to work this morning, and the morning after that and the morning after that without complaint. Pay more for your insurance and your retirement and absorb the pay and hiring freezes with quiet dignity. And then, when the "good times" return, you can stand before your neighbors and say "Hey, we took the cuts, we went without the raises just like you did--and now its time for us to get some of that back." And the people who also paid more for their insurance and their retirement and who had to put up with the pay and hiring freezes in the private sector--and who will then be reaping the benefits of the stronger economy--will say "Yes, you are correct--you do deserve to enjoy the same growth that our families are enjoying again". And lawmakers who still try to blame the organized employees will be exposed and defeated.
It is my firm belief that Governor Walker won by a larger margin last night than he did in 2010 not because more people are on board with the "changes" that his administration instituted--but rather because the majority of voters said "This is not the way we are going to do things anymore. No more recalls, no more protests, no more disruptions, no more insults, no more fleeing to Illinois to block votes. If you want to talk about all of the stuff that is making you angry, save it for November of 2014. We will address it then. Until then, we are done with this silliness. Good night!"