Letter to President Obama: Wisconsin’s Upcoming Elections

Dear President Obama:

On June 5, 2012, hundreds of thousands of your supporters, including firefighters, police, nurses and teachers will go the polls to recall Governor Scott Walker, the arch-reactionary, the opponent of the basic right of collective bargaining and many other decent, established policies.

Political observers are saying that if the Republicans defeat your Democratic Party on Tuesday, it will have wide ramifications throughout the country and will probably cost you Wisconsin this November. Last year I noticed how quiet you were about the large and resourceful demonstrations in Madison that were so inspiring to many of your supporters around the country. You did not go to speak to these good Democrats. Your political operatives in the White House even turned thumbs down on the request by the Wisconsin state federation of labor that Vice President Joe Biden – a self-styled “union man”- address one hundred thousand working people and students before the state capitol in Madison.

So the main public organizations and demonstrations against the draconian Republican assault on your constituents and on long-standing Democratic Party policies – their rights and their livelihoods – were not supported by either you or an otherwise eager Joe Biden at any of those Madison turnouts.

Are you a leader? Or are you a calculator? Either way your status as “missing in action” in Wisconsin, as writer Paul Hogarth put it yesterday, is not even smart, expedient politics. It is one thing not to champion the priorities of your labor supporters – such as pressing to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, which you promised in 2008. It is quite another to betray these working and unemployed people to the cruelties of a massively funded Walker campaign which, if it wins, promises to turn Wisconsin into WisKochsin.

Perhaps you have private polls that support your absenteeism from the state. Perhaps you have other calculations not shared by the legendary calculator-in-chief Bill Clinton who is going to Wisconsin tomorrow to support the workers.

Whatever your hidden motivations are for inaction in situ, people will be asking over and over again whenever you go to fat cat fundraisers, to foreign countries promoting Harley Davidson motorcycles, to ESPN knowledgeably picking the winners for each level of the March Madness basketball tournaments, to business gatherings on Wall Street and elsewhere, this question:

Barack Obama did not have the time nor the interest to come and help us during the last days of our historic struggle against the cruelest, most craven, most corporatist-indentured Republican Party in history. Where was he?

Unless you fly to Wisconsin before Tuesday, you’d better HOPE that the polls CHANGE and the good people of Wisconsin turn out Governor Walker. Otherwise, you’ll be up against the memories of your abandonment all the way to November that will not be restricted to the boundaries of the Badger State.

Sincerely yours, Ralph Nader

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