In 2011, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker introduced the innocuously named “Budget Repair Bill.” The sweeping legislation contained both fiscal measures — reduced support for public education, state Medicaid programs, and regulatory agencies, as well as lower property and capital taxes — and a labor law amendment that all but outlawed collective bargaining for public sector employees and created new barriers to union organizing.
After decades of neoliberal advance and the emergence of the Tea Party, none of this — even in a state with a progressive history — was especially surprising. But this time it sparked dogged resistance: a two-and-a-half-week occupation of the State Capitol, demonstrations topping one hundred thousand people, and “sick out” work stoppages by teachers across the state.
When the capitol was cleared, however, the mobilization that began with the demand to “kill the bill” was funneled into the effort to electorally oust
. In the 2012 recall, in a replay of
the 2010 gubernatorial election, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett lost to Walker — by an even greater
margin than before. Walker