On Wisconsin

On March 12, 2012, Stanley Fish wrote the following in the New York Times:

“I know the objections to what I have said here. It amounts to an apology for identity politics. It elevates tribal obligations over the universal obligations we owe to each other as citizens. It licenses differential and discriminatory treatment on the basis of contested points of view. It substitutes for the rule ‘don’t do it to them if you don’t want it done to you’ the rule ‘be sure to do it to them first and more effectively‘. It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that.”

Now, this article was trying to make the case to justify war on Rush Limbaugh but not a war on Bill Maher. I posit the same principles are being utilized to justify the ongoing political war being waged by the Democratic Party and the public service unions in Wisconsin against Gov. Scott Walker and other elected officials. If you believe all will be well in the US if only President Obama were defeated this November, then I submit that Wisconsin is the proverbial “canary in the coal mine”.

In November of 2010, the GOP swept Wisconsin politics. The governor, the lieutenant governor, the State House, the State Senate, and the U.S. Senate seat held by Russ Feingold were won by the GOP. In 2011,Gov. Walker introduced a bill to restrict the right to collective bargaining by the public unions. This was done to relieve some of the financial pressure on the state and municipalities. The Democratic Party and the unions did not take this lying down and led a movement that not only facilitated the fleeing from the state of Democratic legislators but included public demonstrations utilizing violence, threats of violence, and intimidation. When this failed to stop the passage of the bill, the Democratic Party and the unions utilized Wisconsin’s recall law; targeting for GOP state senators. The unions spent close to $30 million and only won two of these races. The state Senate remained in the hands of the GOP.

In November of 2011, emboldened by the rejection of a similar collective bargaining bill by referendum in Ohio, the Democratic Party and the unions embarked on recalling not only Gov. Walker but the lieutenant governor and four state senators. Of course, this was all done under the guise of nonpartisanship.

The Democratic Party and their union allies submitted over 1 million signatures to recall Gov. Walker. Their allies in the media were thrilled. Despite cases of people bragging of signing the recall petition 80 times and signatures of Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, and Adolf Hitler, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board decided it would not check signatures. So much for ensuring the integrity of elections in Wisconsin. However, a county circuit Judge ruled that the state GAB needed to take more aggressive action to vet recall signatures stating, “counting the signature of Bugs Bunny is something only a lawyer make seem okay”.

There is an air of desperation from the Democratic Party and their union allies. A recent report showed that membership in organized labor unions in Wisconsin dropped by 16,000 according to the latest data from the US Bureau of Labor statistics. This is almost a 1% decrease from 2010. Although labor unions gained members in 19 states last year, union membership nationally dropped from 11.9% of the employed population in 2010 to 11.8% in 2011; continuing a decades long trend. Union members also tended to be older than nonunion members, according to the BLS data. Union membership is 15.7% among workers 55 to 64, but 4.4% for those 16 to 24. The Democratic Party is in danger of losing not only a base of power but also the millions of dollars the unions would generate for political campaigns and causes. Recalling Gov. Scott Walker is a matter of political life and death. At this time, it appears the primaries will be held on May 8 and the general election June 5; that is assuming that GAB request is granted.

It should be noted that the anti-Walker forces are leaving no stone unturned. They have challenged the state voter identification law and a Wisconsin judge has struck down said law. Oddly, the judges and other government officials who have ruled against Walker and these laws have also signed the recall petition against Walker. Most people would consider this a conflict of interest; but obviously not in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin has always been notorious for a lax voter standards. Anecdotes range from Marquette University students registering and voting multiple times on election day to people crossing state lines in order to vote on election day. The Democrats have never been keen on cracking down on potential voter fraud. The obvious reason is voter fraud is one of the very few things they are really good at.

They have also caused one of the GOP state senators, who was subject to the recall, to resign. It appears she was the target of a harassing e-mail campaign by an AFSCME Union official. Although she stated her health was her reason for leaving, her statement, “for the sake of the electorate, I hope that better days are ahead for this institution”, seems to allude to the threats and intimidation she and others have had to encounter since taking on the Democratic power structure.

The events in Wisconsin seem to prove the observation that in a state of confusion the actions of a few committed people can have devastating consequences to the opposition. The blame for these events should be placed on the few whose desire for power is greater than the need for civility. This country was founded on ideas. For better and worse, this country has changed politically because of ideas. However, we have always been civil and have accepted the consequences of elections.

Something has changed in the last 20 years. The level of incivility is unsustainable. As a result, there is a lack of dialogue to change arcane and unsustainable policies. It is a “win at all costs and take no prisoners” attitude established by raw emotion instead of logic. Instead of embracing the concepts and beliefs of conservatism or liberalism, proponents seek to strong-arm and/or destroy those who do not embrace their beliefs.

It will be interesting to see the results of this recall in Wisconsin. I understand the fear and dread the Democratic Party and their union allies have over the policies of Scott Walker. Residents of Wisconsin have seen their property taxes stabilize for the first time in many years. Will they give in to these tactics of threat and intimidation by the Democratic Party and their union allies?

A loss by Walker and the GOP will end not only the idea of fiscal responsibility to the cash strapped local governments but it will embolden Democrats and their union allies to intimidate and threaten any entity or person who dares interfere with their power structure. It will not just be contained to Wisconsin. It will become a national movement to counter any change to their entitlements. These folks care nothing for ideas and civility. They have no respect and venomous contempt for anyone who disagrees with their views.

A victory by Walker and the GOP will bring shivers of terror to the national Democratic Party. It will change an area of the country the national GOP abandoned 15 years ago. This is the paradigm shift. It is truly on Wisconsin.



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