What goes up, comes down. A loss today often presages a win tomorrow. The only certainty in politics is that nothing is certain.
I'd hoped Governor Scott Walker would lose today's Wisconsin recall election, but polling showed that the prospects of this happening were low. His win is disappointing to me, not depressing.
I feel for the legions of hard-working progressives in Wisconsin who worked long and hard to recall Walker, collecting more than a million signatures. After subscribing to the Twitter feed of Wisconsin activist Kelly Steele, every day I enjoyed reading his passionate tweets about the ups and downs of the campaign to replace Walker.
Voters have spoken.
The turnout was greater than expected, so it's difficult to argue that voter apathy or suppression was a big factor in Walker's win. The people of Wisconsin wanted Scott Walker to remain as Governor. That's what they'll get.
And then... who knows?
I remember how down I felt in November 2004. George Bush had been re-elected president. Measure 37, a citizen initiative that trashed Oregon's pioneering land use system, had passed here in Oregon. I felt terrible.
Three years later, in 2007, Measure 49 was passed by 62% of Oregon voters. Measure 37 was no more. Four years later, in 2008, Barack Obama was handily elected president. I felt wonderful after both elections.
The seeds of change begin to sprout as soon as policies begin to be implemented after an election. What looked good to voters back then, is seen as bad now. Republicans currently are on a roll in Wisconsin. How far and how long their fortunes will continue on an upward swing? No one knows.
A few days after Measure 37 passed in 2004, I wrote a blog post called "Mini-secret of universe revealed." After describing a psychedelic-fueled insight from the 1960's (the universe is a paper bag turned inside out), I talked about a more believable political insight: whatever is going to happen is what has to happen.
I offer my 2004 thoughts to those in Wisconsin who are disconsolate tonight, perhaps wondering whether their state will survive Scott Walker's recall victory. As noted above, after three years Oregon voters reversed course and struck down Measure 37.
Today, Oregon's land use system is back to protecting farm and forest land. Measure 37 is just a bad memory. Here's what I said in the aftermath of a disappointing election, starting off with a reference to my mescaline-aided insight:
Now, thirty-six years later, my cosmic insights aren’t as powerful or as bizarre, but they keep on coming. Mini-secrets of the universe get revealed without any help from chemistry, other than what is bubbling away naturally in my brain. Last night I had one of those flashes while reading an Oregonian article about the effects of Measure 37.
I was immersed in the usual funk I get into when I think about how Oregon’s pioneering land use laws run the risk of being trashed by this ill-conceived measure. For it allows owners to be exempted from a law passed after they acquired their property if it reduces the value of their land. The other option is for government to pay them for this reduction in value, but nobody expects cash-strapped Oregon to be able to come up with the money to do this. Instead, land use laws simply will be waived.
I was moodily visualizing convenience stores popping up in the middle of residential neighborhoods, and gravel pits being dug next to state parks, when a crystal-clear realization broke into my meandering thoughts.
Whatever is going to happen is what has to happen! All right, I realize that this sounds as meaningless as a paper bag turned inside out! But the difference is that my clear-headed 2004 insight still rings true to me, even the day after. What came home to me is that the 60% of people who voted for Measure 37, as for the 51% who voted for Bush, are going to experience what has to happen as a result of their choice.
The universe is going to work things out perfectly. What goes around, comes around. Whatever you sow, you reap. Garbage in, garbage out. Pick your cliché, the meaning is the same: the changes caused by Measure 37 are going to result in exactly the right effects.
“Good,” “bad,” these aren’t what I mean by “right.” “Right” means that the universe always keeps itself in perfect balance, and I don’t have to worry my little liberal Green head that anything unjust is going to happen—with Measure 37, Bush’s second term, or anything else.
I felt like a big weight was lifted from my psyche. It isn’t up to me to right supposed wrongs. The cosmos takes care of that.
Soon, Laurel and I hope, a lead petitioner of Measure 37 will find that someone is going to build a ghastly environmental and aesthetic disaster next to his or her home after taking advantage of the Measure’s lifting of a land use law. When I read about this in the Oregonian, I’ll smile.
Everything is going to be all right. I’ll remember that the universe told me that on November 14, 2004. Now, I’ve just got to figure out how this connects to the whole paper-bag-inside-out thing. A Nobel prize could still be in the cards, in my own mind at least.