BY SARA GILBERT
Republican Scott Walker of Wisconsin defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a recall election. This was a first in United States history, a governor winning a recall election. And this was only the third time in the nation’s history a governor faced recall.
Looking forward, Walker’s win might predict good things for Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney in November’s presidential election. That’s what Rockland County Republican Chairman Vincent Reda believes.
“It says a lot for the upcoming November election,” Reda told the Rockland County Times. “I’m not taking anything for granted, we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but the party is headed in the right direction.”
Reda sees Walker’s win as showing the beginnings of a trend in the nation. “People have had enough,” he said, pointing out how exciting it was for this to happen especially in a blue state.
The recall effort began on February 11, 2011, when Walker released his plan to address a state budget shortfall that called on most public workers to pay more for health insurance and pension benefits and give up some of their collective bargaining rights. The proposal led to protests that lasted for weeks. Yet, Walker signed the proposal into law on March 11.
Lawrence Stone, a Republican Tea Party activist, small business owner, and moderator of www.rocklandrepublicans.org sees Walker’s win representing a step toward the “restoration of individual rights.”
Stone, who says he can’t speak for all of the Tea Party but can share his opinion, respects the fact that Walker had tough decisions that needed to be made. “We need accountable people like this. And the decisions are only going to get harder. It’s a reality check,” Stone said, pointing out that collective bargaining” is not a right, but instead is being used as a mandate. “He [Walker] had a real grown up conversation with the unions and this is an example that New York State should follow. It can be done,” he said.
Stone hopes that the movement continues to move in the direction of individual right and away from collective rights, or as he says, mandates.
“The spirit of individualism is what this country is founded on,” Stone told the Rockland County Times. “If we are ever going to be the most prosperous nation again we need to return to what we were founded on. The idea of collective rights [surpassing individual rights] is not American.”
He added, “Look at the Bill of Rights, it’s all about individuals rights.”
In a stark contrast to this view is CSEA President P. T. Thomas, who voiced his disappointment to the Rockland County Times. “This is not good for the unions and it can have a negative impact on us. It’s unfortunate, he should not have won again.”
Thomas continued by explaining how the public, even politicians, don’t really understand what it means to have unionized public servants, the huge impact they have on the quality of life and what it would be like if they were not filling the jobs they currently are.
“Public employees create a lot of revenue,” Thomas said, pointing out the fees that are involved with the work they do. “When you go get gas or eat out at a restaurant, there are signs that indicate that the items you’re purchasing were approved by an inspector, a public servant. These services have fees, and that’s how these jobs are paid mostly.”
He used other examples, including: garbage collected, roads paved and plowed, maintained sewage and plumbing, children protected, investigative police teams, health inspectors and more.
“If you live in the U.S., you enjoy a quality of life that you take for granted,” Thomas said. “We live in the safest place, and yes, you need to pay taxes in order to keep it going. Many forget that their life is being protected.”
However, looking to the future, Thomas is optimistic. “The unions should not be afraid. We’ll keep on fighting for our rights!”
And in terms of the upcoming November election, Stone said, “I think we need to strengthen our resolve as Americans. It’s not easy, but we’re all neighbors and we can agree to disagree.”
The most important thing, he said, “We need to handle whatever happens with civilitiy and love for our neighbors.”