Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Obama and Wisconsin


The irony is that, whether Scott Walker wins or loses in Wisconsin, Obama and the national Democratic party will have lost. If Walker wins, Obama will get some of the blame and if he loses, he won’t get an ounce of credit. As the NY Times put it:

Mr. Obama has purposefully tried to keep his distance from the recall fight, which has unfolded with all the intensity and acrimony of a presidential campaign within the borders of Wisconsin…The White House has showed tepid support for the recall. Democratic advisers thought the effort would take time and money away from the presidential campaign and poison the pool of independent voters who were a key part of Mr. Obama’s success here four years ago…

The president, who campaigned for Mr. Barrett two years ago, has been conspicuously absent this time. His aides argued that he had a full plate and did not have time to come. But Republicans were quick to point out that Mr. Obama was only a helicopter ride on Marine One away from the state on Friday when he visited Minneapolis, and again on Saturday after spending the morning in his old neighborhood in Chicago.

“He couldn’t drive 15 miles and show his face here?” said Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, who spent the weekend in his native Wisconsin to stir the pot and campaign for Mr. Walker. “There are going to be a lot of Democrats in Wisconsin who are going to be pretty disappointed with their president who did not come in and help out.”

One of these is Matthew Rothschild, editor of the Progressive Magazine:

It was bad enough that Obama or Joe Biden never showed up during the historic protests in February and March of last year. But it is unforgivable that they’ve failed to show up during the last weeks of this crucial recall campaign. It’s not that they were too busy.

[Obama] acts like he doesn’t know where Wisconsin even is, or why it matters.

It matters because this is about a basic human right: the right to collectively bargain.

It matters because Walker has systematically attacked the progressive agenda down the line: from public education and the environment to the social safety net and women’s rights.

It matters because Walker used “ruthless” means to attain his goals, as Russ Feingold pointed out.

It matters because Walker is bought and paid for by the most reactionary wing of the oligarchy.

Back in 2007 on the campaign trail, Obama said:

“If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.”

That somebody is not Barack Obama today.

Neither Obama nor his national party seems to realize that they are in their tight race because the Democrats have not been able to come up with a program to counter that of the Republican right. This is not a race between Obama and Romney. It’s a race between a party that is trying to kill 80 years of American progress and one that can’t figure out what to do about it.

The Wisconsin Democrats and labor unions, more than any effort other than the Occupy movement, have shown how to fight this battle. They’re doing it on the toughest battlefield anywhere in the U.S. and will be role models and heroes regardless of what happens tomorrow.

Obama has reacted with cowardice and by turning his back on some of best troops.

If he loses in November, remember Wisconsin. It’s where the story could have turned out differently.

Sam Smith edits the Progressive Review. He is the author of The Great American Repair Manual.

Sam Smith edits the Progressive Review.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 27, 2016
Paul Street
An Identity-Politicized Election and World Series Lakefront Liberals Can Love
Matthew Stevenson
Sex and the Presidential City
Jim Kavanagh
Tom Hayden’s Haunting
CJ Hopkins
The Pathologization of Dissent
Mike Merryman-Lotze
The Inherent Violence of Israel’s Gaza Blockade
Robert Fisk
Is Yemen Too Much for the World to Take?
Shamus Cooke
Stopping Hillary’s Coming War on Syria
Jan Oberg
Security Politics and the Closing of the Open Society
Ramzy Baroud
The War on UNESCO: Al-Aqsa Mosque is Palestinian and East Jerusalem is Illegally Occupied
Colin Todhunter
Lower Yields and Agropoisons: What is the Point of GM Mustard in India?
Norman Pollack
The Election: Does It Matter Who Wins?
Nyla Ali Khan
The Political and Cultural Richness of Kashmiriyat
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“It’s Only a Car!”
October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases