Recall Elections: The (Con)tested Grievance Tactic

Kathleen C. Oberlin

Journalists and pundits alike clamored to interpret the recall election that took place in Wisconsin last week on June 5th. As Republicans beam with pride over Governor Scott Walker’s steadfast hold onto his seat, the Democrats are left to reevaluate among many issues whether or not the recall election is a tactic to continue to use in the current political climate. For those unfamiliar with what exactly a recall entails or where and when it can be done (presumably many of us), check out the national center for state legislators’ overview. Until recently state level (e.g., assembly members, governors) recall efforts were quite rare. It remains to be seen if this will continue in the future as a viable means to channel grievances.

Kathleen C. Oberlin

With exit polls indicating over sixty percent of Wisconsin voters disagreed with the deployment of the recall election, Republicans seek to strike while the, proverbial, anti-recall iron is hot. Meanwhile, organized labor and their allies work to contextualize the defeat as well as reign in November projections, redirect focus onto voter rights, and strengthen ties to the Occupy Movement.

Kathleen C. Oberlin

Ultimately, social movement scholars have fruitful ground for examining the continued cycle of protest and the ways in which grievances are aired within and outside of the traditional political sphere.  If we can predict anything from recent activity surrounding recalls in Wisconsin and across the nation, an apathetic electorate in fall 2012 seems increasingly unlikely.

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