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Published on: June 6, 2012
The “People United” Go Down In Flames

The American left as we have come to know it suffered a devastating blow in Wisconsin last night. The organized heart of the left gave everything it had to the fight against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: heart, shoe leather, wallet and soul. The left picked this fight, on the issue and in the place of […]

The American left as we have come to know it suffered a devastating blow in Wisconsin last night. The organized heart of the left gave everything it had to the fight against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: heart, shoe leather, wallet and soul. The left picked this fight, on the issue and in the place of its choice; it chose to recall Walker because it believed it could win a showcase victory. That judgement was fatally flawed; it is part of a larger failure to grasp the nature of American politics and the times in which we live.

The left gave this fight everything it had. It called all the troops it could find; it raised all the money it could; it summoned the passion of its grassroots supporters, all the moral weight and momentum remaining to the American labor movement and every ounce of its strength and its will.

And it failed.

The tribes of the left danced and rallied in the streets of Madison. They knocked on doors. They staffed phone banks. They passed fliers. They organized on social media. They picketed. They sang. They brought in the celebrities and the stars; they marched seven times around the city blowing the trumpets and beating the drums. They hurled invective; they booed; they cheered.

And they failed.

For labor, this was a key test of strength and clout. Scott Walker attacked the American labor movement where it lives: the public sector unions are the only bright spot in the dismal world of modern American unions. They have the growth, they have the money, they have — or they had — the hope.

The Walker reforms hurt AFSCME in Wisconsin almost as badly as Ronald Reagan hurt PATCO, the air traffic controller union he famously crushed in 1981. Public sector workers have deserted their unions in droves since the state clipped union bargaining rights and stopped automatic collection of dues. After a string of bitter, humiliating and expensvie defeats, labor in Wisconsin will now be a shadow of its former self, lacking the troops, the money and the morale.

The public sector unions are critical to what remains of the American left. The power of the public service unions in Democratic politics pulls the entire party to the left and gives ideas that are important to the left an access to power that they would otherwise lack. But more important than that, they provide a kind of center to a movement that otherwise threatens to fragment into antagonistic cliques.

The New Left of the 1960s and 1970s rapidly devolved into different factions. There are environmentalists, civil rights and Black activists, poverty activists, feminists, intellectuals in the academy and the arts, gay rights advocates and many other groups whose agendas often don’t overlap and sometimes conflict.

Two big things unite them: a general sense of being on the same side in opposition to the economic and social right, and the belief in a strong, well-funded state. Some want the state to enforce mandates and empower them to reshape and uplift the bitter clingers. Others want the state to fund their universities, create jobs for their communities or otherwise provide concrete benefits. But for all of them the progressive, bureaucratic government machinery of the 21st century is both the prize for whose control they struggle and the agent they hope will make their dreams real.

This is exactly what public sector unions believe in and want: more government mandates and more government jobs — with more security, higher wages and better benefits all the time.

A Democratic Party dominated by its public sector unions is a party married to government and to bureaucracy. To the degree that the public unions shape its agenda, the Democrats become a lobby for the servants of the state. For the unions who represent its employees, the bureaucratic, civil service state is a solution permanently in search of new problems to solve and new worlds to conquer. The power of the public unions within the party pulls Democrats much farther to the left than they would otherwise go.

This is one reason the Wisconsin reforms stimulated such a powerful and united emotional wave of push back from virtually every section of the left. The threat to the public unions isn’t just a threat to a powerful source of funding for left-liberal candidates and to strong organizations with political experience and muscle; it’s a threat to the heart of the left coalition and to the structures that give the left much of its power in Democratic and therefore in national politics.

But the dominance of the public unions in the left had consequences for the left itself — bad ones. In contemporary America, the public sector unions are essentially a conservative constituency. That is, their core goal is to get more resources in order to fight all but superficial change in the structures their members inhabit. They want ever growing subsidies to the postal service, the public school system, the colleges and universities, even to health care — but they do not want the kind of reforms that could make these institutions more efficient, more productive, more serviceable.

To the extent that these unions shape the Democratic agenda, Democrats aren’t just the party of government; they are the party of inefficient, expensive, unresponsive, bureaucratic government. They are the party of government workers first and foremost, and if there is a clash between the interests of the providers of government services and their consumers (between, for example, unqualified, unmotivated life-tenured public school teachers and kids), the unions come at these issues from the standpoint of protecting workers first, others second.

In terms of the blue social model, they are the party of the bitter clingers: the power of public sector unions among Democrats is a power that inhibits Democrats from putting forward innovative, future-facing ideas (about schools, health care, and so on) and keeps them focused firmly on the defense of the past.

The left’s analysis of its loss in Wisconsin resorts to some classic tropes: it is despair masked as defiance in order to avoid deep introspection. The rhetoric of resistance is employed to describe the substance of collapse in an effort to insulate conventional pieties and beloved assumptions from withering critiques. Thus from Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation and a deeply engaged and thoughtful person of the left, came an op-ed published in the Washington Post. Contemplating the imminent defeat in Wisconsin, she titled her article “Wisconsin gives progressives something to build on.” She is clear about the nature of the threat:

By attacking labor unions, flooding Wisconsin with outside cash and trying to cleanse the electorate of people who don’t look, earn or think like him, Walker has taken aim at more than a single campaign cycle or a series of policies; his real targets are the pillars of American progressivism itself.

But contemplating the likelihood of defeat, she calls on her allies to take the long view. The very long view. They must contemplate history with the eyes of faith.

Elections are over in a matter of hours, but movements are made of weeks, months and years. The Declaration of Sentiments was issued at Seneca Falls in 1848, yet women did not gain the right to vote until seven decades later. The Civil War ended with a Union victory in 1865, yet the Voting Rights Act was not passed until a century later. Auto workers held the historic Flint sit-down strike in 1936-37, yet the fight for a fair, unionized workforce persists 75 years later.

Victory is inevitable, though perhaps not for another two generations. Build the movement; fight the fight. The message at once consoles the faithful and acknowledges the scale of a historic defeat. When she tries to sound positive about what the long, expensive, draining, bitter, losing fight in Wisconsin accomplished, she waxes eloquent but not, I think, convincing:

Just as the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt motivated people around the world, including in Wisconsin, the occupation of the Madison statehouse helped inspire the occupation of Wall Street a few months later.

This seems at once grandiose and hollow — like Donald Trump, though without the vulgarity. And the fight in Wisconsin gives us an example, she enthuses:

…in the last 15 months, Wisconsin’s progressives have shown us that the battle against bankrolled austerity can be bravely waged by an army of dedicated people committed to protecting working families. They’ve reminded us that good organizing is our only chance to withstand the blitzkrieg of corporate funded advertising — and better yet, leave a lasting mark. Their movement, with thousands of new Wisconsin activists mobilized, energized and educated, can be permanent — and it can keep growing.

Yes, they can do all that, and they can lose. Big time. They can fail to get their favorite candidate nominated by the Democratic voters, they can fail to move public opinion on the core question of the Walker labor reforms, and they can fail to move the state or the country towards their point of view.

Vanden Heuvel’s analysis of why the left lost in Wisconsin is simple, and if it is true, the left looks doomed. The answer is money, she says, reflecting a very widespread line of analysis. Thanks to the Supreme Court, the right is able to outspend the left ten to one, ensuring that the left can never win.

If the argument is correct, then this really is a “Seneca Falls” movement — and the left is doomed to generations of marginalization or, as The Nation would more optimistically put it, “struggle.” If the right can “flood the zone” with dough, the left will never be able to win enough presidential and senatorial contests to reverse the Supreme Court’s trajectory. If the American people are really so stupid and clueless that they docilely follow the big bucks and the deceptive campaign ads of their clever class enemies on the right, then the right is pretty much set for a long spell of power.

The reality is more complicated. For one thing, the left had more money on its side in Wisconsin than many reports acknowledge; $20 million from labor groups, according to this estimate. More importantly, money does matter in politics, but money alone is rarely enough, especially on an issue which voters care deeply about. When the left — or the right — can summon popular passion and energy to its side, it can not only put up a noble fight. It can win. This actually happens quite a lot in American politics: poorly funded campaigns with charismatic candidates tap into some deep reservoir of popular sentiment and they deal out bitter defeats to the pallid, colorless but well-moneyed Establishment candidates. This has been happening relatively frequently in Republican politics of late. There have been times in American history when it happened also on the left. Milwaukee, Wisconsin has had Socialist mayors.

The left’s problem in Wisconsin wasn’t that the right had too much money. The left’s problem is that the left’s agenda didn’t have enough support from the public. Poll after poll after poll showed that the public didn’t share the left’s estimation of the Walker reforms. Many thought they were a pretty good idea; many others didn’t much like the reforms but didn’t think they were bad enough or important enough to justify a year of turmoil and a recall election.

The left lost this election because it failed to persuade the people that its analysis was correct. The people weren’t a herd of sheep dazzled by big money campaign ads on TV; the Wisconsin electorate chewed over the issues at leisure, debated them extensively, considered both points of view — and then handed the left a humiliating, stinging and strategic defeat.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEwXa197uBU’]

What happened in Wisconsin last night wasn’t, as a distraught young voter told CNN in the video above, the death of democracy in America. But it was an important stage in the death of an old vision of what America is about. What was once a common vision of the future — the “liberal” utopia of the last fifty years — is behind us now. We need a new future because the old one has turned into the past.

Governor Walker and Mayor Barret both gave good speeches last night, and both called for an end to the bitter divisiveness that has polarized Wisconsin for the last 18 months. Both, in a characteristically American way, spoke of the need to put the past behind us and work to build a better tomorrow.

There has never been a greater need for the American faith that leads us to embrace change. The old certainties don’t work anymore, the old institutions are too expensive and too slow, and the old economy isn’t coming back. In Wisconsin, the left embraced the visions and the hopes of the past, but the voters were ready to move on.

Voters in Wisconsin didn’t reject a role for the state in regulating the economy and easing the harshness of life in a market economy. But they turned decisively against the argument that well-paid armies of life-tenured bureaucrats can produce enough good government to justify the cost. And the lesson of the election isn’t that the right has too much money; the lesson is that while the left still has plenty of passion and fire, it has, thanks in part to the power of public sector unions, largely run out of compelling ideas.

[Image: Shutterstock]

show comments
  • thibaud

    Nate Silver’s well-researched, nonpartisan, expert take:

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/05/governors-races-can-be-a-contrary-indicator-for-presidential-elections/

    “In 7 of the 10 elections since 1972, the Democratic candidate actually did slightly better in states with Republican governors, while Republican candidates did better in states with Democratic ones. The difference has been profound in some years, like 1972, 1984 and 1996.

    “In other years the differences have been more modest, or have run in the more intuitive direction. In 2008, for example, President Obama won states with Democratic governors by an average of about 10 points, against a 3-point margin in states with Republican ones.

    “Still, in the past 10 presidential elections as a whole, the presidential candidate has done a point or two better when the governor of the state is of the opposite party.

  • http://theunfoldingcatastrophe.blogspot.com/ Michael Barger

    This is the best I have seen so far. Obama is finished. I tell my liberal my friends that is up to then whether the want to take this defeat as an opportunity to reform the thoroughly corrupt Democratic Party and dump unions or whether they want to continue to push themselves deeper into irrelevancy and hypocrisy.

  • Ed Snyder

    “…like Donald Trump, though without the vulgarity.”

    Maybe not. But with vanden Heuvel’s accusation that Walker was trying to cleanse the electorate of people who don’t look like him, she more than makes up for it with the squalid politics of personal attacks that have become the go-to tactic of Leftist political discourse. And when one takes into consideration the death threats tweeted against Walker–a husband and father–those attacks have the potential of turning literally physical.

  • BillH

    The left can’t [fool] most of us anymore, having become farcical for the most part. Let’s hope they can continue to [fool] themselves indefinitely.

  • http://facingzionwards.blogspot.com/ Luke Lea

    Collective bargaining only made sense in the private sector, if then, but those unions have all but disappeared thanks to foreign competition with low-wage countries: first Japan and South Korea, then Mexico, now with China and the rest of undeveloped Asia (whose total population must be close to three billion!).

    That public employees — firemen, police, school teachers — should be able to strike was never in the public’s interest, and now that private sector wages are falling (thanks Nafta, Gatt, WTO, and the traitors to the American people who control Congress and their abettors in academia) they make less sense than ever.

    But there may be a silver lining. Now that the last vestiges of old-style organized labor are being swept away the way may be clear and the need made transparent that America needs new forms of organized labor. The problem is political and its home is Washington D.C. Only a national labor party — a New Labor Party, –representing the interests of ordinary working Americans of all races and religions can restore the American way of life and the American dream in its democratic version.

    As for a platform, either tariffs or income redistribution and wage subsidies. GET for GATT would be a good slogan (GET standing for a graduated expenditure tax, look it up). Implementation would require the active support of all the other developed nations in the world since we are all in the same boat and GET won’t work without shutting down tax havens all around the world.

    Three billion poor people on the other side of the world will destroy the West and everything it stands for if we con’t take action.

    Finally, don’t blame the corporations. Corporatons aren’t responsible citizens. They do what the gotta do to survive in the market place given the current rules of the game. Those rules were set in Washington and they will be changed in Washington or nowhere.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Voters in California of all places also cut Union power yesterday in San Jose and San Diego, so this isn’t just a local Wisconsin phenomenon. Somewhere between one third to one half of the Wisconsin public sector Union members are no longer paying their dues, and with this election even more are likely to stop paying.

    It’s the TEA Party’s objectives of Limited Government, and Fiscal Responsibility that is winning more and more support. The left has been claiming that the TEA Party is dead, but the TEA Party which began with Rally’s in 2009 and 2010, has been organized and is now operating invisibly by taking control of local Republican Parties, donating their time and money, and voting their principles. In Wisconsin it was the TEA Party that was the real opponent of the Leftists; Walker is one of their candidates from the 2010 election. As we can see from the increased margin of victory in the Walker vs. Barrett sequel, the TEA Party has increased in strength in Wisconsin since the election in 2010, and I doubt that Wisconsin is the only state where they have grown stronger. So, despite the massive mobilization of the leftists over the last 18 months, the left actually lost strength to the TEA Party.

  • Kenny

    In this otherwise thoughtful post, you did make one boo-boo.

    You wrote that “Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation is a deeply engaged and thoughtful person of the left.”

    Engaged, she is. On the Left, she sure is. But thoughtful?

    Judging from her writings in The Nation, this woman is a certifiable loon with a severe disconnect from reality.

    It is still not clear if she has repudiated her Uncle Joe Stalin yet.

  • thibaud

    “Obama’s finished”, eh? Here’s the latest Wisconsin likely-voter polling data on the presidential race:

    RCP Average 5/9 – 5/26 Obama 49.0, Romney 44.3 Obama +4.7

    RCP Average since 5/22: Obama 50.0, Romney 43.0 Obama +7.0

    Recent polls:

    Marquette University 5/23 – 5/26: Obama 51 Romney 43 Obama +8

    WPR/St. Norbert 5/17 – 5/22: Obama 49 Romney 43 Obama +6

  • lhf

    It needs to be stressed that money is not always critical. Jon Corzine spent 3x as much as Chris Christie and lost, Obama spent much more than McCain and won. There are other examples. Sure, money can make a difference, but it is usually not enough. Ideas are important, particularly ina case like Wisconsin where there was debate on ideas for months.

  • http://facingzionwards.blogspot.com/ Luke Lea

    I should have written: “Three billion poor people on the other side of the world will destroy the West and everything it stands for if we let nature take its course.” Nature being defined as the “natural” distribution of income in a world of free trade and free capital mobility.

  • Kansas Scott

    As usual, I find your analysis enlightening and entertaining (particularly the “Trump without the vulgarity” line).

    I have no meaningful disagreement with your assessment of the left. What is lacking (and admittedly was not the point of your post) is how the right will process this victory. The voters had two choices and they rejected the left’s misguided overreach.

    I do believe we have polarized wings of political views (as we always have) but most Americans are somewhere in the middle and hold their noses and choose the one currently offending them the least.

    If the right takes this as a mandate to just slash and burn then they will again crash and burn. They must do hard work and develop real ideas on reinventing government in the fashion you so eloquently write about about. Only being against something works when your opponent continues to do you the favor of being for something that is so out of touch with most Americans. I guess the left can continue to nobly march off the cliff but my assumption is that they are human and they will adapt a more successful approach at some point.

    Misunderstood victories seem more common than misunderstood defeats.

  • http://facingzionwards.blogspot.com/ Luke Lea

    We used to read about “the revolution of rising expectatiions.”

    Now it’s the devolution of falling expectations.

  • Anthony

    “…But for all of them the progressive bureaucratic government machinery of the 21st century is both the prize for whose control they struggle and the agent they hope will make their dreams real.”

    “In contemporary America, the public sector unions are essentially a conservative constituency….”

    “The old certainties don’t work anymore, the old institutions are too expensive and too slow, and the old economy isn’t coming back.”

    So, here we are with tough governing choices ahead and globally transitioning capitalism creating inherent destruction (a country no longer producing economic surpluses to assuage legitimate tax and spend policy positions for nation going forward). How do we engage a mixed economy going forward given our structural imperatives and yet maintain American idea of equality? The question WRM falls neither left or right but infers the magnitude of our problems.

  • http://facingzionwards.blogspot.com/ Luke Lea

    [it would be nice if ViaMedia allowed commenters to edit typos]

  • Joe

    Don’t think for a moment this means a thing for the presidential race. WI still likes Obama, indeed, the Obama/Romney numbers are essentially the inverse of Walker/Barrett.

    That said, I do believe (I live in Madison, so maybe this isn’t surprising) that this election was more important than the presidential race will be. Mitt is probably not the transformative candidate we need to truly make progress, and Obama is at least middlingly competent on foreign policy, if nothing else. Another 4 years of his ‘leadership’ would probably just further tarnish the liberal image.

    For Walker to lose, though, would have been truly devastating. There is a way forward and we are walking it, but a defeat yesterday could have set back the fight with Public Unions by a decade or more.

  • WigWag

    Much of what Professor Mead says in this post is true. He hits the nail on the head when he suggests that if the left is going to rely on the likes of Katrina vanden Heuval for intellectual support it is even more doomed than it thinks. He could have said the same thing about her idiot of a husband, Steve Cohen or even her grandfather, the bizarre Jules Stein.

    There is simply no question that the public sector is going to experience its fair share of “creative destruction” just like the private sector has. In the long run this will leave some people better off and some people worse off but whether there will be more people who benefit or more people who suffer is an open question. If the example of the private sector (at least over the past couple of decades) provides any hint, there will be plenty of benefits but they will accrue to a tiny percentage of the population.

    What makes Professor Mead’s post supercilious is not his enthusiasm for pointing out that the public sector is desperately in need of a major dose of innovation and cost cutting; it’s his certainty that it represents for now and all time the public’s rejection of what he calls the “blue” model.

    A more prudent observer would point out that what the public voted for in Wisconsin (and San Diego and San Jose) it rejected quite recently in Ohio. For every politician like Walker who wants to eviscerate the “blue state” model completely, there are politicians like Governor Cuomo and Rahm Emmanuel who are deeply committed to the “blue model” and are trying to reform it so it can be rescued. The evidence that Walker’s or Kasich’s approach will prove more economically viable or politically sustainable than Cuomo’s or Emmanuel’s is nonexistent.

    Claiming that the election in Wisconsin is evidence of the inevitable demise of the “blue state” model reminds me nothing so much as the assurance Marxists used to boastfully provide that the fall of Viet Nam and Cuba was evidence that communism was the wave of the future. Like Professor Mead, their vanity got in the way of their ability to think clearly. Like him they were convinced that the tide of history was on their side. Of course they were wrong.

    There are some things that we do know. Professor Mead’s fantasies about a new incarnation of capitalism is, at least for now, little more than a figment of his fecund imagination. Perhaps the day will arrive when fracking, three dimensional printing and millions of new high tech concierge jobs will lead the American people to new heights of prosperity. But to quote one of the Professor’s favorite fictional characters, Aragorn in “Lord of the Rings” “that is not this day.”

    Today the only thing we have as an alternative to the “blue model” is unregulated capitalism. We already know that it doesn’t work. Left unregulated by government, market economies suffer cycles of boom and bust that become so frequent and so severe that they become socially unsustainable. That’s one of the reasons that the “blue” model was created in the first place. As the pendulum temporarily swings back towards less government intervention in the economy the unseemly underbelly of capitalism comes back into view and the pendulum then swings back in the direction of a more vibrant role for government.

    Most of this has little to do with ideologues like Kristina vanden Heuval, Walter Russell Mead or Scott Walker. But what makes these people ideologues in the first place is their inability to step back and see things clearly; they see in every event that modestly supports their point of view a thunderous confirmation of everything they have believed all along. Every event that contradicts their cherished beliefs is dismissed as an anomaly.

    The character from “Lord of the Rings” that Professor Mead most reminds me of is actually not Aragorn but Galadriel. Like the Elvin princess, he keeps repeating to himself and to us,

    “The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air.”

    Here’s a newsflash, Professor Mead, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy is only make believe.

  • John Minehan

    —The economic tsunami of the last few years is the Tofflers’ Third Wave (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Third_Wave_%28Toffler%29).

    —Facebook bombed as an IPO. This has reduced the stock market value of other social media sites/tools (Linked-In, etc.).

    —I think, however, that the real value of these types of programs will come in their application to marketing and in creating new platforms to deliver healthcare, legal and other professional services (e.g., building Paul Ryan’s “association health care plans” or creating “law networks” as opposed to “law firms”). Think of this as how personal computers were marketed in the late 1970s and early 1980s: a tool to help the kids with their math, store recipes and maintain the household budget, as opposed to what people really used them for.

    —Put another way, the movie may have been called The Social Network (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1285016/), but the profit is going to come from the value-added provided by operational networks.

    —Further, and this is very far-afield, much of the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community’s trouble in countering AQ is the early days after 9-11 came from assuming it was a typical, Second Wave, command and control-based organization rather than a network.

    —The Democrats have been in free-fall as a national political party since the 1960s, as a result of the loss of the “solid South.” They were able to win the Presidency 4 times since 1968 by making gains in the formerly-Republican “Old Northwest”/Rust-belt. The elections of 2010 demonstrate that hold is fading. If that holds in 2012, the Democrats are no longer a national party.

    —The interesting political question is becoming: What replaces the Democrats?

    —Could it be a new, Adenauer-esque Center Party, built from centrist independents, moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats? Could the Tea Party/Liberty Movement either become a new party or take over the Republican trade marks and trade dress to represent the conservative plurality? Interesting to see how this turns out.

    —The one assumption I think is absolutely warranted is that Walter Russell Mead is right and the Blue Social Model is dying. (http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/05/26/cuomo-takes-on-unions/; http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/04/30/prestigious-law-firm-goes-bust-lawyers-boxed-out-by-changing-industry/, http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/04/18/health-care-of-the-future/, http://aei.org/events/2012/03/13/the-death-of-the-blue-social-model/) This will lead to wrenching change in “Blue” institutions like law, healthcare and higher education.

    —I think real, market-based healthcare reform is inevitable. The ONLY way to fix this system is going to be the kind of federal and state deregulation that telecom and transportation went through in the 1980s and 1990s.

    —I think the next few years will see a shift to even more of a K-1/1099 (vice a W-2) work force than has already been seen. This will improve the opportunities of the Tea Party/Liberty Movement, which is a K-1/1099 movement. No one is more tax-sensitive than the self-employed.

    —This economic shift is more inimical to the continued survival of the Democrats as a national political party than any of the supposed demographic shifts that were supposed to favor them.

    —Unions are dinosaur institutions.

    —You can’t bargain collectively for wages, as everyone you retain has a different contribution to the bottom line. Even individuals contribute to the bottom line in varying ways over time. Further, W-2 “Employment” itself makes little sense anymore. This is the age of the networked or “Shamrock” organization (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shamrock_Organization).

    —However, other network organizations that help people bargain collectively for healthcare coverage or pension planning or tuition assistance/educational benefits make a great deal of sense (and may even be required) in the coming years. This is the future of unions, on something of the model of the Screen Writers’ Guild healthcare and pension plans.

    —The next few years provide danger and opportunity.

  • http://thoughtsonline.blogspot.com steve

    I see it a little different.

    There have long been attempts to cut the amount of money spent on public workers. These have usually failed because they were ‘top-down’ cuts – cuts in the number of workers on the government payroll, which allowed the unions to scare voters with fears of higher crime, fires not being put out, overcrowded classrooms and the like.

    The genius part of Walker’s proposals is that he went after them in a different way – by cutting their effective ‘net’ pay by making them pay more for their health care and pensions. And with Walker emphasizing that public workers had a better deal than private sector workers, the unions were unable to play the sympathy card.

    The GOP will be making a big mistake if they think the public endorses attacks on public workers per se… the public is in favor of having public workers make less, but not in favor of having fewer public workers.

  • thibaud

    #16 – post of the day. Nicely put.

    @11 – Kansas: “If the right takes this as a mandate to just slash and burn then they will again crash and burn.”

    Bingo. Most Americans recognize regulatory capture and “pay to play” as bad things, destructive of the public interest. This is why they support reasonable efforts to rein in piggish public sector union deals brokered by dishonest pols.

    They also support, overwhelmingly, restrictions on the same sort of behavior by private sector regulatory capture artists.

    This includes entities that have captured the Republican Party, including the TP fringe, such as private health insurers (with their “pre-existing condition” DOB scam) and the TBTF banks (with their heads-we-win, tails-you-the-public-lose subsidy model).

    The undecided/swing voters in Ohio, Florida, Colorado are trying to choose between two apologists for special interests that have captured our political class. Rolling back greedy public unions is only the first step toward winning over these voters.

    We’ll now see whether the GOP leadership has the intelligence and honesty to pursue the next logical step and cast out the other scammers in the health insurance and banking industries.

    Color me very skeptical – as are most of the OH FL CO VA etc swing voters.

  • bill phelps

    I live and pay taxes in a blue state, Maryland, and a blue county, Prince Georges.
    Both maintain a AAA bond rating for the rating agencies know loans will be repaid. The necessary funds will be taken out of the hides of not only the taxpayers but also the public servents. Public sector unions have little to no power in Maryland.

  • Haim

    I’ve been reminded of a scene from one of Terry Pratchett books, where the character tries to rally a mob against a dragon by slogan “People United Can Never Be Ignited!” and then the dragon yawns…

  • John Minehan

    WigWag,

    Few things are more “supercilious” than the assumption that Gov. Cuomo is committed to the “Blue Model” as opposed to “whatever works best and best advances the interests of Gov. Cuomo.” He may be the most effcetive governor in the USA right now, but he also seems to be the most pragmatic as well.

  • http://www.pacrimjim.com PacRim Jim

    I recall when, decades ago, American unions were perceived as strongly pro-American.
    No longer.
    Now unions, and particularly public sector unions, are perceived to be so selfish as to be unconcerned with the welfare of the United States.
    Just as the communists planned.

  • jonathan rubinstein

    The Wisconsin vote is the first repudiation of the political revolution initiated by Lyndon Johnson in 1964 when he institutionalized the Democrat party across the country behind the screen of the Great Society, Model Cities, Medicare/Caid…This is just the beginning of a titanic struggle whose terms are yet to be defined. It will go on for 20 years and will not really begin until after the election which will, I believe, be the last one of the Old Regime.

  • koblog

    “…the Democrats become a lobby for the servants of the state.”

    Outstanding column.

    Curious, is it not, that leading “Progressive” ideas for the 21st century involve windmills, trains, unions and “shovel” ready projects…19th century accomplishments all.

    Further, perhaps the public unions need to understand I’m not about to march for their featherbedded privileges while so many others are truly suffering.

  • ThomasD

    Just to clarify an otherwise obscured point
    the “they” that “provide a kind of center to a movement that otherwise threatens to fragment into antagonistic cliques” are otherwise equivalent to “automatic collection of dues.”

    In other words, it is, and always has been about the money. Without the money there is no center.

  • Rob

    To Luke Lea –

    I agree mostly with your analysis except for the part about a national labor union. I believe unions need to pull back from national politics and get back to the local politics that matter to the actual people paying the dues. AFSCME sends most of its dues money to DC and campaigns on national platform. They need to pull back to the state and municipal level. Then they might actually be serving their membership instead of advancing their own agendas and increasing their power.

  • Dan B

    “This is exactly what public sector unions believe in and want: more government mandates and more government jobs — with more security, higher wages and better benefits all the time.”

    Translation: They want to be paid far more than I am, but with my tax dollar.

  • Mr. G

    I wish this was a new political dawn is rising from the ashes moment but realistically the public sector unions simply failed to get more and what they lost they will eventually recoup courtesy of the taxpayer. They may also get smarter about attracting members. Reagan pushed back against this trend and was part of an even broader movement which included defense issues, economics, crime, etc. Reagan changed American politics considerably but then suddenly Obama came on the scene and the left simply opened the flood gates so that they could grab quickly what they thought they had been denied through the years and we have our new massive debt. The Left has plenty of staying power and it is a mistake to think they are going anywhere.

    We’ve basically taken away their supersized sodas but they’ll still be going for 2nd and 3rd refills at the public trough.

  • LawrenceA

    Simply this thought. Thanks for a thoughtful analysis.

  • Katherine

    We’ll now see whether the GOP leadership has the intelligence and honesty to pursue the next logical step and cast out the other scammers in the health insurance and banking industries.

    No, next question. w/nod to the Instapundit

  • tom swift

    I’m genuinely mystified by the claim that Katrina vanden Heuvel is in any sense a thoughtful person. I know little about her, but from the exerpt here she sounds like an absolutely stock Party hack, utterly unimaginative and smugly proud of the superiority of her “ideas”.

    Although I can’t imagine what they are, I suspect that there are sensible and serious arguments to be made in favor of modern leftism. But there seems to be nobody with both the intellectual horsepower and the practical perspective needed to make them. I’m pretty confident that Heuvel isn’t the one. But who is?

  • http://abriefhistory.org Michael Kennedy

    After Barrett gave that “good” speech, he was slapped in the face by a disappointed supporter. The willing suspension of disbelief is seen here in the comments.

    ” WI still likes Obama, indeed, the Obama/Romney numbers are essentially the inverse of Walker/Barrett.”

    Those numbers are from exit polls and fail to represent reality. Keep thinking that, though. Don’t wake up just yet.

  • Wicakte

    I think that Professor Mead’s articles about the problems of the “Blue Model” have been excellent, but I’d suggest that, rather than referring to it as the “Blue Model,” it would be better described as the “Blue Potemkin Village.” As long as the left controlled all of the media, it could conveniently bury the problems with the Blue “Model,” long after that were deadly obvious to anyone with access to the underlying facts. Now that tight control is no longer possible for them, so the whole House of Cards threatens to collapse in a spectacular manner.

  • Egypt Steve

    Those who are against organized labor would have more credibility if they would simply be honest and say: the working class makes too much money. We will all be better off if living standards are lower for workers.

    And as for the public employees: we can have fire protection, police protection, public school teaching, and other public services that are just as good as those we have now, maybe better, if we pay public sector workers less, and if we have fewer of them. We actually *need* more unemployment in the public sector.

    Will Romney say that?

  • Captain Kirk

    We are faced with a simple fact and a simple proposition.

    Fact:
    Government spending is way out of control, it now consumes more than 40% of the economy and threatens to collapse the economy as government continues to expand.

    How we got here:
    It is important to understand how we got here so we can consider how to get out. Good intentions, some even noble causes, have created a coalition of special interest that take money through the government. Public Unions, environmentalist, welfare and entitlements, corporate grants, federal loan programs, are just a few examples. Since FDR government has increased from 7% of the economy to where it is now well over 40%. This coalition of special interests (takers) has kept the Democrats in dominance since FDR and the Republicans in compliance, thus perpetuating an ever expanding government.

    What this means:
    The economy is approaching critical mass, a point at which the burden of government will cause a collapse. You may believe that point is some place down the road, and you may be right. But without a doubt an ever increasing government will eventually collapse the economy. We only need to look at The Soviet Union or Greece to see the validity of this point. Eventually the spending will stop. It will stop either because Hard Working Americans (the makers) had the courage to tell the coalition of special interests (the takers) STOP…or…because we’ve gone bankrupt. Either way, IT WILL STOP.

    The proposition:
    Even if you are one of the takers; such as a teacher or firefighter…Even if you receive a government check (my wife receives a disability check)…Even if you think your cause noble and what you receive just….YOU MUST ask yourself this one simple question…the proposition before us all…

    Will I have the courage to say stop, enough already and share in the sacrifice needed to correct our course…or…will I crow like a coward demanding mine as we go off a cliff?

    Reason for hope:
    Watching yesterday’s election where a state basically agreed with this proposition gives me reason to hope. Watching the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) party elucidate this basic message gives me reason to hope. Knowing that the basic character of most Americans when they understand the reality of such a proposition will stand up with courage…gives me reason to hope.

    The choice is ours, just remember, either way it will stop!

  • Glen

    Katrina vanden Heuvel’s right about one thing: a revolution’s coming. It’s just not the one she expects. James Piereson of the William Simon Foundation recently echoed Mead’s “Demise of the Blue Social Model” theme in The Fourth Revolution.

  • billyosceola

    Public sector unions do not add value to our society. That is why they must lose in a capitalistic system.

  • Standfast24

    Spot on and a very cogent analysis.
    Even worse for the public employee unions is the chronic underfunding of pension obligations by many states and cities – often in the heat of Blue America; California and Illionis are the two best examples.
    Local and state Democrats were happy to provide all sorts of sweeteners to their union friends with little or no press coverage. Now the bill is coming due and can’t be hid by a compliant media. Cutting high visibility services can’t be papered over and imagine the battle between all the special interests fighting for a portion of the same tax dollar.
    Regardless of the economy, PE unions will be fighting a battle for the next decade to preserve benefits/wages with both their political friends and opponents.

    Now on a broader, national level; Mead is right, the vision of a big, expansive and all knowing government was the glue that held the various Dem special interests together. You need a massive bureaucracy to enforce the millions of regulations that ensure an outcome based, vs. opportunity based economy.
    Plus, Greens want to throttle all but green energy, feminists want wage equality (unless you work for a D member of Congress), blacks want a continuous stream of benefits for failed big cities, academia wants blank check student loans….and so on.
    All require someone to direct and administer.
    Most (if not all) of academia and the liberal intelligenca refuse to admit that there are limits to the revenue obtainable via taxation to support this massive government. Just tax the rich some more.
    Even worse for the left is that we have a ring side seat to the EU as Greece, Spain and the rest of the PIIGS must face the consequences of ruinous excessive spending, socialism and statism run amok.
    Everywhere liberals turn, they get a first hand example of the limits and failure of their ideology – talk about “reality television” , not something the MSM can ignore.

  • Bugs

    @Steve: The GOP doesn’t attack public workers per se. It attacks their unions when those unions become odious. Not quite the same thing.

  • Kristo Miettinen

    A point I’d like to draw attention to is that there are at least two different “blue” models, and maybe even more. There is the “franchise player” model, where the government works to sustain services, environment, and cultural life that über-productive people find attractive, so that those people and the industries that revolve around them can be taxed to support the less-productive rest of the population. The other model is the “integrated team” model where work rules, regulations, and other controls are used to encourage large homogeneous businesses where individual productivity is less noticeable and less-productive personnel can be carried by the enterprise, rather than supported by government funds.

    California with its culture of small nimble startup companies on the one hand and large class of wards of the government on the other hand is an example of the former model; Wisconsin is arguably an example of the latter model (as was California 60 years ago).

    Governor Walker’s reforms probably mean that the Wisconsin model will live on for quite some time yet, since the economic heart of the model is really in Harley-Davidson, Oshkosh, etc, which are strengthened by restricting the taxes transferred to the public sector workforce; what remains to be seen is whether Governor Brown can craft reforms that will keep the California model going. Note that the issues are different, and the corresponding solutions must be different too (technology startups are not nearly so tax-sensitive as they are dependant upon creative synergies). I suspect that what California needs, but will not get, is regulatory reform that would allow non-glamorous industries to stay in state; because those industries do not fit the model they lack the political leverage to survive.

  • Sam L.

    One of the exceptional things about America, The U.S. of A., which amazes foreigners perhaps more than anything, is that we seem to be pretty honest about filling out our tax forms and actually paying taxes. The Blue Model hasn’t killed this. Yet. It could.

  • Charles

    The Left didn’t suffer at all. They failed to recall Walker, now he merely serves out the remainder of the term to which he was originally elected. In another race, they did successfully recall a Republican state senator, giving the Democrats control of that body, something they failed to do in the original election.

    So, the Democrats have a great strategy, campaign hard, if you lose the election, demand a recount, another one if necessary. If all else fails, get petitions to recall the Republican after he’s in office for a year.

  • MisterH

    Enjoyed the analysis. Hope WI is truly the first step in a concerted efforts towards eliminating public sector unions – or at the very least, diminishing their clout by having states and municipalities cease the practice of automatically collecting union dues. Heck, my employer doesn’t collect and disburse my annual dues to the NRA; why should they do it for labor unions?

  • Mwalimu Daudi

    “Just as the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt motivated people around the world, including in Wisconsin, the occupation of the Madison statehouse helped inspire the occupation of Wall Street a few months later.”

    “Inspired” indeed, although perhaps not for the reason Katrina vanden Heuvel implies. The uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt inspired people worldwide in the same way the Anschluss and the Third Reich’s crackdown on Jews motivated Nazi sympathizers of that era. Does the editor of the Nation really think that likening her side to blood-soaked Islamist monsters in the Middle East is a winning strategy in American politics?

    Maybe she does. OWS may be an American version of “Lord of the Flies”, but among its ranks are real psychopaths with real blood on their hands. For limousine liberals like Katrina vanden Heuvel – can anyone imagine her getting her hands dirty by washing her own dishes or mowing her own lawn? – OWS represents a perfect chance to lead pogroms vicariously without the icky blood for the maid to clean out of their expensive clothes later.

  • K Scott

    Walker’s reforms are still not widely understood Outside Wisconsin. By limiting public service union power, Walker increased the power of local communities and their tax authorities with the result that they balanced their budgets without severe layoffs or deep cuts in social services – unlike Greece. The 3 R’s of budget reform are: Rebalance, Rebid, Rearrange. Rebalance the budget by increasing contribution to health care and pensions; Rebid all contracts such as health insurance, school buses and school lunches; Rearrange schedules and work arrangements so that the job gets done without severe tax increases or layoffs. But union contracts would prevent rebalancing, rebidding and rearranging at the local level which Walker knew from his tenure as leader of Milwaukee County. And so he began by returning power from the unions to the local communities by limiting collective bargaining and also by eliminating 400 state regulations that fostered featherbedding and prevented the third R – Rearranging. But it’s because the local communities then balanced their budgets by a very varied mix of the 3R’s that Walker won. The deficit disappeared without huge layoffs and social service cuts when power went back to local communities as Walker predicted. No amount of drumming, chanting,occupying, Om-the-Doming, screaming etc. could prevent people from seeing that under Walker things are going in the right direction in Wisconsin in their community. On Wisconsin!! but understand that power to the local community and its taxing authority is what Walker and what Wisconsin is about.

  • D. N. Harvey

    A hundred years ago…. Two hundred years ago…. Just about everything the Left stood for then would be supported now by every rational person in the United States. But the Left never took its foot off the accelerator. NEVER took the peddle off the metal…. Try driving your car that way and see how far you get.

  • Archaeopteryx

    “Uplift the bitter clingers.”
    The phrase, cut from the middle of a sentence in Mr.Mead’s article reminds me of how the term “uplift” is used in a classic Science Fiction series, the Uplift books by David Brin.
    In Brin’s works Uplift is the process by which sub-sentient species, chimps, dolphins, gorillas, are subjected to the process of “Uplift.”
    Uplift in Dr. Brin’s fiction meaning that the species is altered genetically, physically, and behaviorally, in order to be fully sentient.
    The sheer violence of the idea of altering somebody down to their very genes is what gives the Uplift Series such literary power.
    It’s also why “uplift the bitter clingers,” caught my attention so.
    The left has made it quite clear that they believe they have the right to commit the same degree of violence against those they define as inferior.

  • CE

    So once public sector unions are gone (and I’d agree they do harm public finances) or shriveled to their public sector equivalents what will become of middle class wages and benefits then?

  • Will

    “The left lost this election because it failed to persuade the people that its analysis was correct.”

    It is not easy to persuade the people of much when your opponent is outspending you 8 to 1.

  • http://www.theparenttrigger.com Bruno Behrend

    Voters in Wisconsin didn’t reject a role for the state in regulating the economy and easing the harshness of life in a market economy. But they turned decisively against the argument that well-paid armies of life-tenured bureaucrats can produce enough good government to justify the cost. And the lesson of the election isn’t that the right has too much money; the lesson is that while the left still has plenty of passion and fire, it has, thanks in part to the power of public sector unions, largely run out of compelling ideas.

    WigWag and Thibaud can carp all they want about WRM’s analysis, but the paragraph above encapsulates it all.

    Americans are waking up to the failures of public sector unionism. This was perhaps more evident in CA than in WI.

    The people are starting to realize that there is a difference between providing government services, and funding large bureaucracies that drain the system from being able to provide services.

    Being much more aggressive than WRM, I’d say that at true parasite lives in harmony with its host, and the public sector employment mindset (it goes way beyond unionism) is an example of a parasite killing the host.

    The host doesn’t like it.

  • Marc

    “people who don’t look, earn or think like him”

    So, let me get this straight, he’s ONLY racist, elitist and a conservative.

    It’s too bad she left out that he’ must be a bitter, clinging, islamophobic, homophobic, woman hating, un-evolved knuckle-dragger who is 0/32 Native American.

    A missed opportunity for one so obviously of above average intelligence .

  • Will

    “It will go on for 20 years and will not really begin until after the election which will, I believe, be the last one of the Old Regime.”

    Did you read that off the back of one of Asimov’s Foundation novels?

  • danimal

    I suspect the WI election is the first of many efforts to eviscerate public employee unions, and I suspect these efforts will be mostly successful. With a continued shrinkage of private sector unions, union density will continue to dwindle. The American public has come to despise unions, while they still appreciate and value the real benefits of the labor movement. If, as I suspect, labor density is reduced to the single digits in the next few years, there will be a real pushback against the labor protections that most Americans have been taken for granted. Minimum wages, child labor laws, safety regulations and civil service rules will come under fire as corporate money swamps the political field. Without unions, there will be little to no organized opposition. It will be interesting to see how the American people responde to the likely rollback of labor protections in the coming decade.

  • http://ceinquiry.us Andrew

    Now we just sit and wait for the heroic Tea Partiers to take on the bankers and financial elites who caused the economic crisis and continue to suck on the public teat. I mean surely that’s what they’ll do if they really are concerned about special interests and freeloading. It couldn’t possibly be the case that all this conservative talk of fighting powerful embedded interest groups was just a cynical smokescreen.

  • George

    Excellent analysis! The good news is it foretells the doom of the Marxist in the White House come November. The bad news is that our freedom from slavery remains at risk in Romney from the same money interests who bankrolled and empowered Obama. Does it make any difference if your slave-master comes from the Left or from the Right? And there is nothing in Romney’s bona fides that attest to his embrace of constitutional principles upon which this country was founded.

  • Patchy

    vanden Heuvel: ‘…yet the fight for a fair, unionized workforce persists 75 years later.’

    What the bleedin’ ‘eck is a fair, unionized workforce? Has anyone visited the ruins of fair, unionized Detroit or Dayton lately?

  • Kris

    According to Katrina vanden Heuvel, Governor Walker is “trying to cleanse the electorate of people who don’t look, earn or think like him”. If the noble recall effort failed (subverted by a “blitzkrieg” of outside financiers), then surely we must turn to more active measures. After all, if the Governor is “trying to cleanse the electorate of people who don’t look, earn or think like him”, it would be the height of immorality to allow him to continue … governing. Thank Heavens for Katrina vanden Heuvel, “thoughtful person of the left”.

    As to the unhinged fellow in the video, I wonder if he is familiar with the phrase “vanguard of the proletariat”.

    “And the lesson of the election isn’t that the right has too much money; the lesson is that while the left still has plenty of passion and fire…”

    I’ve already argued on this blog that what would determine this particular election is precisely the left’s “passion and fire”. Vindication! :-)

  • http://N/A Communism is [not] My Life

    Here’s a suggestion for resolving the political-economy differences between the collectivists and individualists: eliminate all tax exemptions secretly written into the tax code for individuals and organizations (they are identified by language that applies only to that individual or entity), then invest the proceeds for five years in a trust account that pays out $20,000 per year, adjusted annually for inflation, to all citizens 21 to 65 years of age (retaining social security for those over 65). This money could then be used by people to cover life-cycle idiosyncratic risk to income from any source: job loss, health, divorce, household and transportation repairs, macroeconomic chaos, or anything else life throws at a person. The funds would be retrievable as the person chooses, weekly, monthly, or yearly, or in a $50,000 lump-sum once every 3 years. In addition, all income-based taxes should be eliminated for persons and entities, replaced with a 5% tax on all transactions recorded and cleared through the banking system, similar to the Automated Payments Transaction Tax described by Wisconsin professor Edgar Feige. This aspect of the policy duality would allow supply of products and services to roughly match the increased demand for same generated by the transfer payment previously described, avoiding or mitigating both inflation and the business cycle source of current economic problems. The precise mechanism for the trust funded aspect of this proposal is based on the Alaska Permanent fund, which takes monies earned from state-owned oil fields, invests the money prudently in a diverse portfolio world-wide,then pays out yearly half of the funds generated to Alaska citizens. In turn, the idea is based sub silentio on the “topsy turvy nationalization” concept of English economist James E. Meade, who suggested government purchasing a 50% share of all publicly traded stock, then paying a “social dividend” out of the earnings from these investments. The potential “pension-fund socialism” Peter Drucker feared in such an arrangement would be avoided by the government being prohibited by law from exercising voting rights control of the businesses purchased in part, as is true today in the Federal Reserve’s employee pension fund. Under the proposed plan, both conservatives and liberals would achieve what they say they desire: non-paternalistic help for people’s income fluctuations for liberals, and real incentives to work and invest for conservatives. Of course, human nature suggests that some people might not accept a policy that rewards not just themselves but also the evil “other,” since we all like hierarchy and competition. Nonetheless, if we want a political-economic modus vivendi, her is a viable solution.

  • thibaud

    @#51, re-posting Mead: “the left … has … largely run out of compelling ideas.”

    Here are some of Mr. Mead’s less-than-compelling ideas, as expressed recently on this blog:

    – we should take our inspiration for health insurance reform not from cutting-edge, first-world leaders in health such as Sweden – they’re s0CiALi$tS!!, remember – but from Ghana and India. Yup.

    – America’s 16 million unemployed/underemployed/no longer looking should take comfort: there’s a huge wave of hiring and prosperity a-comin’ round the bend, thanks to 3D printing and crowdsourced funding of the next Faceball/Fishville timewaster app. Giggle.

    – re 3D printing and other whizbang ideas sourced from Popular Mechanics, Mead and other starve-the-beast anti-gum’mint “Jacksonian” libertarians will square the circle re. funding our robust military through brilliant ideas such as 3D printing of aircraft carriers, Hellfire missiles, drones etc. Better still: crowdsource the development to teenagers in Ghana and Thailand.

    – we should give Putin the benefit of the doubt re. Syria because, unlike those dastardly witches who head up State and represent us at the UN, he is, in his soul, a fearless Christian fighting the good fight on behalf of Assad and the Syrian faithful. Tool.

    – on the patriotic/sentimental side, in between bashing public employee leeches, we should raise a glass to that dear old Windsor family, the brave yeomen who, with nary a penny from the public purse, resisted the Nazis and supported Churchill instead of spongeing to the tune of billinos per year in public funds and sucking up to the Nazis and undermining Britain’s constitutional order. /sarcasm

  • Scott

    Meg Whitman spent $160 million, $140 million of it her own money, to try to become governor of California. Jerry Brown, only spent $24 million. Brown won.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/11/steve-lopez-meg-whitman-spent-50-for-each-vote-she-got-is-that-an-outrageous-extravagance.html

    Linda McMahon outspent her opponent, Richard Blumenthal, by a factor of 7:1 in her attempt to buy a U.S. Senate seat. She lost.

    Look at Rick Santorum’s shoestring campaign. He was outspent by many multiples in every primary, yet he won several states before finally suspending his campaign.

    Money is important, but it sure isn’t a guarantee for electoral success.

    Anybody who claims they lost an election simply because they were outspent would only make that claim if they believed the person receiving that message is an uninformed dunderhead. The claim is so easily disproven that the person making it is insulting the intelligence of the receiver of the message.

  • Tulsa Jack

    Congratulations to Mr. Mead on the best explication of the public employee union fever-swamp I have read. His vanden Heuval quotes are subtle and devastating. This idiot insults Gov. Walker as a bigot, as if the public labor unions were not family fiefdoms, passed down from father to son. She’s not “thoughtful,” just another rank ideologue ranting about “justice” while forgetting who pays the bills, and what the consequences are of paying dead-heads twice a market wage for doing nothing. As Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “an invading army could not have destroyed American education more effectively than the teachers unions.” But this “thoughtful” fool would never consider that. These people make me sick. Finally, it seems their day is past.

  • Rose

    “The person who does not become irate when he has cause to be sins. For an unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices. It fosters negligence, and stimulates not only the wicked, but above all, the good to do wrong.” –St. John Chrysostom, c. 347-407 AD

    Time to FIX it. And do it right and
    Git ‘Er Done!

  • Foobarista

    I gather the “cleanse the electorate of people who don’t look like Walter” is some sort of assertion that weakening government unions is somehow racist. How does that work?

  • Kris

    Haim@21, you’re actually the intern who came up with this post’s title, and you’re now calling attention to your own cleverness, right? :-)

  • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

    Voters in Wisconsin didn’t reject a role for the state in regulating the economy and easing the harshness of life in a market economy. … Dr. Mead.

    Only a national labor party — a New Labor Party, –representing the interests of ordinary working Americans of all races and religions can restore the American way of life and the American dream in its democratic version … Luke Lea.

    Today the only thing we have as an alternative to the “blue model” is unregulated capitalism. We already know that it doesn’t work. Left unregulated by government, market economies suffer cycles of boom and bust that become so frequent and so severe that they become socially unsustainable. … Wigwag.

    The common thread I see in the above statements, is that they all lead the reader away from what is the truly-viable path forward: a return to PERSONAL responsibility and neighborly interdependence for one’s economic future, instead of remaining dependent upon others at the “top” to solve those problems FOR you.

    Unions were the “training wheels” for workers as they entered and traveled the years of the Industrial Revolution, with legal protections that were denied to their opponents across the negotiating table to level the economic playing field.

    Now, unions are far too often just another flavor of crony capitalist. It’s way past time that the training wheels came off, because they have become so loose and wobbly that they are now a hazard to your forward progress and other traffic … and you can ride your own bike now, without them, as long as you are willing to make the effort to manage your own future.

    Now we just sit and wait for the heroic Tea Partiers to take on the bankers and financial elites who caused the economic crisis and continue to suck on the public teat. I mean surely that’s what they’ll do if they really are concerned about special interests and freeloading. It couldn’t possibly be the case that all this conservative talk of fighting powerful embedded interest groups was just a cynical smokescreen.

    We ARE taking them on, Andrew, in the best way possible … by pushing back upon the institutions that enabled these miscreants to exploit and/or abuse our trust, in order to advance their social/economic/political agenda via the Blue Model.

    This is being done by pushing government back to its primary mission: securing our unalienable rights, limiting it to wearing the referee’s striped shirt in the marketplace … instead of having it wear the coach’s jacket for 300 million Americans, where it can engage these economic thugs as “franchise players” while both numbing us to the need to keep ourselves economically fit, and diminishing our options to work around the errors of the “franchise players” and keep moving OUR ball down the field.

    The mistake the OWS crowd and other Progressives keep making, is that they INSIST that the answers must come from the top down, from our government … not realizing that expanding government expands the opportunities for the very crony capitalism and political deal-making they protest against, opening the door for more exploitation and abuse.

    Without the ability of “big money” to collude with government, the power of “big money” to exploit and abuse is is very limited … were that not so, Sam Walton would have never gotten past Wal-Mart #3, and instead would have died working behind the counter at Sears or Penneys.

    Our slide towards decline will not reverse, until we quit looking to “experts” and “leaders” to save us from ourselves, man up, and take back responsibility for our own lives and futures.

  • juris imprudent

    If the American people are really so stupid and clueless that they docilely follow the big bucks and the deceptive campaign ads of their clever class enemies on the right

    I am always struck that anyone can make this argument (and many on the left do) and not realize what it implies. The clear message is that the masses are dupes, only fit to be manipulated by one elite or the other. It utterly obliterates any sense of commonality with ‘those people’ – they are merely a means to power for an alternate elite (the ones making this argument). You cannot simultaneously claim that the people are too stupid to elect a competent government and then solicit their support for your agenda.

  • http://khemenu.blogspot.com Ari Tai

    Walker wins.

    Wonderful news for the people of Wisconsin. It’s a little more than 30 years since Mr. Reagan fired (and decertified) PATCO for violating the law. And unlike Mr. Walker, Mr. Reagan knew that the Air Force was regularly testing their ability to manage the entire air-traffic system as part of their civil-defense role – he could be confident that planes would still fly and business could continue during his (the people’s) argument with the air traffic controllers. Mr. Walker had the comfort of no backstop other than being right in principle and in action.

    The public sector unions, like our representatives, need to be further reminded who they work for, who pays their check – this isn’t a private company where if unions are too demanding (and management not firm enough) they both suffer the costs of their stupidity by going out of business.

    Perhaps next time rather than “more, I want more, and I want it now!” tantrums they’ll come hat in hand with evidence of twice the product and/or quality of result at half the costs and ask to share in a minor fraction of the rewards – assuming all the productivity increases are not already obligated to fund the costs of new regulation (regulation: a pre-made purchasing decision made in our names) and reducing the debt for the next twenty years.

    Better yet, since we are told that the well above average compensation these folks have gained is due to their superior intellect, education and productivity (over the rest of us), imagine what an economic boom will happen when they are returned to the private sector and move from being a burden, a below the line cost to all taxpayers and businesses, to another producer, and since they are so smart, likely creating new businesses and employing lots of people – everybody wins as government shrinks and moves these folks from an 1800s industrial age institution into the modern age. (then again, they might learn just how hard it is to create and run a business when they are on the other side of the line, no longer practicing socialism-thru-regulation (i.e. minute control, if not ownership, of the private sector).

    Well, yes, I do dream.

  • Corlyss

    “America as we know it is dead?”

    Where’s that dim bulb been for the last 4 years? Asleep?

  • Corlyss

    @Kris

    “thoughtful person of the left”.

    Regretably, that’s an oxymoron.

  • Corlyss

    @thibaud

    ‘ “Obama’s finished”, eh? Here’s the latest Wisconsin likely-voter polling data on the presidential race: ‘

    Wake up, thibaud. Even Bob Shrum, the energizer optimist, Ed Rendell, and professional sychophants like Chris Matthews have said “game over” for TeamO. Time to look for the next Lefty Messiah.

  • thibaud

    How is that one out of every six Walker voters – IOW, more than twice his margin of victory – supports Obama?

    Could it be that the really decisive voting bloc in November consists of that 10% or so who do not care for either the Tea Party loons or the public employee union scammers?

  • Maxbert

    That disappointed young “death of democracy” voter seems to have the low opinion of his fellow Americans shared by so many of my liberal friends: That they’re too dumb to understand the issues, too easily misled by campaign disinformation, and too incompetent to form their own opinions and manage their own affairs.

    In truth, no amount of ad money can sell a lousy product. I’d ask that young man these two questions: Isn’t it just possible that Wisconsin voters made an informed and thoughtful judgement? And how do you know that isn’t what happened?

  • K Vullis

    I wanted Scott Walker to win because the left wanted him to lose so badly. There is a mindset on the left where America is both responsible for everything that is going wrong on the planet and could fix everything if it wanted to. I despise this mindset. And if the left is in denial about the world we live in and the dangers we face its a willful denial because they know better.

  • donzi_boy

    Dr. Mead: The next battle is voter ID laws. I am astonished by the number of friends and acquaintances who believe that voter ID laws are voter suppression. Of course non of them have volunteered in campaigns against union backed opponents, as I have, so they have not witnessed; the busing of voters from poll to poll; The feeding of the homeless in exchange for their votes; People voting for ill or recently deceased relatives. This happens mostly in inner city constituencies where there are large transient populations and soup kitchens. Voter ID is key to suppressing the vote of the dead. Of course this might be considered discrimination by Eric Holder.

  • http://jocon307.wordpress.com jocon307

    “Democrats aren’t just the party of government; they are the party of inefficient, expensive, unresponsive, bureaucratic government.”

    I saw this quoted yesterday and I’m glad to stumble upon it again. Because I kept thinking about it, and realized I didn’t know who said it.

    Brilliant, Mr. Mead, in a few words you’ve said it all.

  • Nicholas Sackett

    Ever noticed the disconnect? Governement Unions are married to the idea that big government can better provide and take care of the populus. But for themselves, big government is so evil, that they have to have a Union with greivances to protect themselves from being abused by the big government they help to create!

  • John Nelson

    Don’t expect much introspection from the crypto-marxists. They will cling to collectivist statism to the bitter end.

  • RoentgenWarrior

    Egypt Steve said “And as for the public employees: we can have fire protection, police protection, public school teaching, and other public services that are just as good as those we have now, maybe better, if we pay public sector workers less, and if we have fewer of them. We actually *need* more unemployment in the public sector.”

    I suppose the same argument applies to Obamacare then?

  • Renfield

    If public unions are so wonderful, why have most of their Wisconsin members opted out of paying their dues? And why do they need laws that coerce workers into joining and paying dues, anyway?

    The idea that Katrina vanden Heuvel is a “thoughtful” anything is absurd. She’s practically a comic caricature of a trust fund revolutionary.

    Interesting post, #41 Kristo Miettinen. I hadn’t thought of things quite that way. You’re a daunting chess opponent, too!

  • Alfisti

    Firstly, Katrina vanden Heuvel is an old fashioned Marxist polemicist, nothing more and nothing less. That disqualifies her from being “thoughtful” in any meaningful sense of that word. A “thoughtful” leftist is George Orwell or Chris Hitchens, not the likes of KvdH or her compadres.

    Secondly, the fact that The Nation mag is now quoted as a “mainstream” source like a regular journalistic enterprise (and not the polemical mill that it actually is and has been) and KvdH appears on MSNBC, shows how radicalized the left and the media have becomein the age of Obama.

    Thirdly, this just might be the “Arthur Scargill’ moment for the public employees unions and the Demo Party.

    Walker’s defunding of forced union contributions has driven and will continue to drive a stake through the heart of the public unions in Wisconsin and most likely elsewhere across the country as Wisconsin’s successes are fully digested. This was entirely predictable – as the unions themselves acknowledged sub rosa by REQUIRING people to pay dues. If they really thought they were winning the argument there would be no necessity fro compulsory payments. People would willingly pay. The fact that a large percentage of “members” quickly ceased paying “dues” the moment they were no longer forced to do so proves that these unions are dinosaurs that no longer serve their members.

    Finally, the British Labour Party elected to remake itself into a modern governing party that demolished and transcended the reactionary stranglehold the industrial unions pre-Arthur Scargill had on the old Labour Party. The Democrat Party is now being granted an opportunity to do the same thing. Will it take it, or will it double down on a failing model that its OWN “MEMBERS” abandon as soon as they have the “freedom” to do so?

    Clinton, after he got spanked in 1994, attempted to do move the Democrat Party “forward” and away from its hidebound past and was successful for a time. Cuomo in NY also appears to be more of a “new wave” of Democrat leaders that could lead their party out of the New Left Marxist Utopianism of Obama, Axelrod and KvdH.

    So the question after Tuesday is:

    Will the Democrat Party transition into something new that takes into account post-Blue Model realities, or will it double down on Prof. Mead’s “Blue Social Model” and the forced union contributions and Hollywood Leftists used to finance it?

  • http://the-american-interest.com Vickee

    Yes, this WAlker Win is a dryrun for November. It means a lot, it means that we the people will not be railroaded anymore by the union thugs.

  • Harry J

    Well written article, thanks. As far as Van Der Heuvel, Jon Nichols and “The Nation” are concerned, I do not agree that “The Nation” is even worth wasting time on. I have read a few of their “hit pieces” which were recently published on RCP, and was stunned by the very obvious inflexibility, and lack of objective perspective. Add to that the fact that I politely commented on some of, what I perceived to be, their misconceptions, only to have all my comments removed and to be banned from posting further comments. Reading the comments field on “the Nation’s” website, many fragmented responses by liberal readers, clearly answers to conservative comments which were obviously removed, may be found. In my humble opinion, if anyone adopts that much of a “bunker” mentality, at some point clear and rational thought will suffer from “oxygen starvation”. The liberal left like to call themselves, progressive, but living in a cocoon cannot but spawn regressive thought. It is very sad to see, but I am convinced they actually believe the irrational gibberish they spout, let’s just hope they do not lose control, and turn violent.

  • Renfield

    Thibaud asks: How is that one out of every six Walker voters – IOW, more than twice his margin of victory – supports Obama?

    Answer: It would indeed be hard to explain if it were true, but it’s not. Those figures, which also show Walker and Barrett tied, are based on exit polls that were willfully misinterpreted by “news” organizations. The MSM tend to read exit polls in a partisan light, just as in 2004, when Dan Rather et alia became positively giddy over leaks of raw, unweighted data, and the New York Times began preparing a “Kerry Defeats Bush” headline.

    In fact, Obama and Bush are about tied in Wisconsin, which Obama took by 14 points in 2008.

    Take a hard, honest look at Obama’s poll numbers. For an incumbent President before the conventions, they’re pretty bad.

  • tjinmo

    The unions/dems/progressives are responsible for a tremendous waste of time and money in Wisconsin. They could have used those resources to plan for the next scheduled election. The people of Wisconsin like what is happening now with the state budget. The do NOT like someone tampering with the results of the 2010 election through a phoney recall. ….and the theme that walker outspent barrett is disingenuous. The unions poured money into wisconsin from all over the country, and it wasn’t counted as part of barrett’s haul….they screwed themselves and the deserve it.

  • brad

    The political, economic and social circumstance that gave birth to the progressive/public sector unions’ status quo was an anomaly resulting from the post WWII American dominance over a prostrate or underdeveloped world,status. Since the best and brightest could not be bothered with informing the people this dominance won’t last you get what we’re witnessing now; people confusing their historical ignorance with getting screwed.

  • thibaud

    @71: I provide actual, recent, relevant polling data. You provide pundit hand-wringing.

    Again, Walker’s margin of victory came from people who are going to vote for Obama.

    Victory in November belongs to the purple candidate who wants effective government – not to the Tea Party loons who want to starve the government.

    Effective government = standing up to all the major rent-seekers and scammers: not just greedy unions but also piggish health insurance companies and TBTF banks.

  • don

    “…while the left still has plenty of passion and fire, it has, thanks in part to the power of public sector unions, largely run out of compelling ideas.” Yeah, and the left has largely run out of other people’s money.

  • Boritz

    Moses said to the children of Israel, “Pick up your shovels, saddle your asses and camels, and I will lead you to the Promised Land.”

    FDR said “Lay down your shovels, sit on your [behinds], and light up a Camel®. This is the Promised Land.”

    Scott Walker knows who was the real and who the false prophet.
    Hint: Red Sea yes, blue model no.

  • Chase

    Professor Mead, and all Via Meadia readers, would benefit from reading Richard Posner’s discussion of our current economic problems. Posner is as honest as he is brilliant, and he doesn’t let ideology get in the way of his analysis.

    http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/2012/06/capitalismposner.html

  • usagoingbroke

    CE says:
    June 6, 2012 at 6:37 pm
    So once public sector unions are gone (and I’d agree they do harm public finances) or shriveled to their public sector equivalents what will become of middle class wages and benefits then?

    Unfortunately, given the state of globalization, middle class wages and benefits will have to compete. Which means lower standards of living for many; I suspect. I’m not suggesting I want that to happen, by any stretch, but every product and service has to compete. Consumers of those products and services, whether they be cell phones, cars, police protection, or trash collection…..want to pay the lowest possible money for them so they can have money to spend on other things. Doesn’t matter if it’s governments spending taxpayers money, or the individual spending they own paycheck. There’s never enough money, and there’s never a lack of things to spend it on……that’s just reality.

    Great Article Mr. Mead….btw. I’m passing on links to it to my friends and family.

  • Renfield

    Oops, my #84 should read “Obama and ROMNEY are about tied in Wisconsin . . .”

    See Michael Barone’s article this morning debunking MSM claims about all those Walker voters being for Obama.

  • Orthodox

    This is just the beginning of the end for the 20th Century model of the State. The nation simply cannot afford leftism anymore, and it would collapse if it tried to continue. The left is completely bankrupt of new ideas, the right is too, only less so.

    WRM shouldn’t be too happy though, the Wisconsin victory came because cutting public unions benefits 99% of society. It’s also why Americans favor bringing the troops home and they will vote overwhelmingly for candidates who propose it: it’s a win economically because the costs fall on a small or in the latter case, foreign population.

    I don’t think it heralds a win for Romney, I still think Obama could win, and then 2016 will see the new “Ron Paul” candidate win the presidency.

  • Steve

    You nailed it.

    Our public school system here in Mpls. has been totally cut off from the kids and parents for 30 years and yet statements that come out of the administration never change. It’s always ‘close the achievment gap’. I don’t think anyone even knows what this means any longer most of all the administrators themselves. They just show up for work and get paid.

  • Wiley

    Wisconsin’s election reaffirms that, in the end, most people are smart enough to realize that the utopian dream of unlimited consumption without production, of forever getting whatever they want without having to give something of equal value in return, is a fantasy. Eventually reality intrudes and the bill comes due. Additional decades or centuries of tearful denial and tantrum-throwing will never change that.

  • richm

    Here’s the basic question: I’m a taxpayer with no pension plan. Why should I pay state/local taxes to fund government union workers to retire at age 55 with full pension benefits?

  • Dan Kimball

    What happened in Wisconsin, I am thinking, is that Wisconsinites have been treated to many months of democrat goon antics. They may be getting sick and tired and waking up to what the democrat party really is.

    The actions and antics of the Obama administration are really no different from what has been going on in Wisconsin, are they not?

    What I think is happening, will be happening over the next years, at least I hope, is the disintegration of the modern, leftist/democrat party.

    Here’s the democrat party’s problem:

    People are smart…..human beings are wired to detect falseness. They are very sophisticated in detecting things like liars. They may not be sophisticated in intellectual understanding of the Big Picture considerations, such as foreign policy, economics, democracy, etc., etc. But, humans evolved in tribes, and they are hard wired to detect the merest hint of falsehood and duplicity.

    And, this is what the democrat party is…a party based upon falsehood, propaganda, and lies. There is no honesty to their arguments, nor to their policies. It is all political correctness, and it is all about them gaining and retaining political power.

    The Tea Party, as one example, is exactly the opposite of the democrats. They are honest, they do things only because it is the right thing to be doing for the good of the nation, for the future of children and the grandchildren of the Tea Party participants.

    With the rise of the internet, and our ability to communicate much more easily, it is simply not possible for the democratic party to keep people believing in the propaganda and lies they need to have people believe in, in order for them to retain power.

    What has been remarkable to me, has been the near fifty fifty balance we have had over many years in the voters, between democrats and republicans. Elections could often go either way. I am beginning to think that the democrat side is starting to crumble. It only takes a few percentage points to swing to the republican side, and then, it can begin to snowball.

    When the democrats start to be unable to compete in areas of the country which have been competitive, it can begin to snowball. Formerly reliable constituents of the democrats can start to peel off, such as the Jewish vote, who can’t be happy with the antisemitic tone they are hearing from the leftists, world wide.

    Soon, you will have the politician talent start to peel off, when they see that the democrat party is not that reliable in delivering victory. Witness Artur Davis. Witness the mayor of Newark NJ, the man who saved the woman from the burning house, who stated he was nauseated by the Obama campaign denigrating Romney’s career at Bain Capital. The Obama people forced him to walk back his words….they forced him to lie.

    I see a democrat/leftist party which has veered off far to the left, is so intent upon big government control, where they live to become the elitist rulers, and where they are willing to do anything to retain power, such as voter fraud. This party is doomed to self destruct. They are now in the process of self destruction. It is a party which exists only for itself as a mafia like organization. Its purpose is only to gain and retain power.

    There is no relationship between the democrat party and the concept of good government, of sane government, of a government which has the good of the nation as its focus. The American people are sick to death of dysfunctional, lying, government. They want what Americans have always wanted…honest government which lets us alone to be ourselves, to live our lives.

    For this reason, the democrat party is now on the path to disintegration. They simply cannot maintain their raw political power based upon the foundation of lies they have cobbled together over the past decades.

  • testandverify

    This was one of the best written articles I’ve seen to date about what happened. Only thing to add is the logic that public employees need a union to deal with the goverenment? The only possible reason for a public service unions would be to generate money for voting power. The same people that say they need a union also say the need a strong large government. One wonders about the intellectual logic in that!?

  • http://ceinquiry.us Andrew

    This is just a clever exercise in scapegoating.

    The American middle class has been decimated by Reaganite union-busting and Clintonian free trade. Public sector unions provided a small segment of the American populace with decent wages and benefits, but nothing too fancy. So instead of targeting the real culprits–the CEOs and bankers who live like parasites on other people’s labor–the American people were directed by the Owners to blame the civil servants whose only crime was avoiding the neo-liberal sledgehammer of austerity and privatization that brought down the middle class in the first place. I guess what goes around comes around. For decades America has been imposing “free market” reforms on unwilling populations in the Third World which threw millions into destitution and misery. Now the American middle- and lower-classes will experience a similar drop in living standards.

    It’s quite sad to see how perverse our discourse has become where raising taxes on millionaires is “class warfare” but bashing teachers making five figures is seen as Wise and Serious. But that’s how it works I guess.

  • testandverify

    #90 – Chase – I read the prose you linked. While it seemed long on problems with the cap. sys. it seemed to be very short on solutions. Would have liked to have seen how he would fix his list of issues.

  • thibaud

    @92 (and #84 and #71 and all those who continue to deny the reality of the 9%+ split-ticket voters): again, here’s the hard POLLING DATA, not hackery from one or the other side’s pundits:

    Latest Wisconsin likely-voter polling data on the presidential race:

    RCP Average 5/9 – 5/26 Obama 49.0, Romney 44.3 Obama +4.7

    RCP Average since 5/22: Obama 50.0, Romney 43.0 Obama +7.0

    Recent polls:

    Marquette University 5/23 – 5/26: Obama 51 Romney 43 Obama +8

    WPR/St. Norbert 5/17 – 5/22: Obama 49 Romney 43 Obama +6

    Deny it all you like, but this election belongs to those sane moderates who can capture the 10% of the electorate that is disgusted with BOTH PARTIES’ rent-seekers and regulatory capture artists.

    Again, that means zero value-add health insurance leeches and TBTF banksters as well as greedy unions.

  • RGP902

    The rout in WI occurred because people paid attention to what is happening there and voted appropriately. It occurred in San Jose and San Diego, too, but by a far wider margin. The taxpayer is tired of paying wages to public employees, then having the same public employees be forced into AFSCME where the dues go to fatten the wallets of union bosses, who in turn hire the union thugs to force the votes that in turn pick my wallet. The unions are their own worst enemy.

    The stock market rallied because of what happened in WI. Wait until November when Obama is voted out and companies around the country can breathe a sigh of relief and start hiring and building once again.

    Democracy is alive and well in this Republic. It worked just fine on Tuesday night.

  • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

    Andrew, the American middle class has been diminished to the degree that they chose to believe this lie from our cultural and political elites:

    All you need to do is show up for work or go to school; we have experts who have the answers to your housing needs, your health care needs, your financial needs … no need to plan for your future or actively manage your career, since we can do a better job than you can; just trust us to solve those problems FOR you.

    They offered … we listened.

    Our mistake was that we all but invited government to intervene, to do what we THOUGHT we couldn’t … and/or make shortcuts to follow to the Wonderful Land of Something For Nothing, as we swilled our $tarbuck$ and fiddled with our iThingys instead of deferring our gratification and saving for a rainy day, leaving the latter to our employers, our union leaders, and our government to take care of FOR us.

    Those who kept more control of their future, instead of leaving the job to others, are the ones better off today.

    Why is it perverse that millionaires who EARNED their money are protected from having it confiscated, by a political money-laundering machine involving, among others, the unions that many of those teachers support … while teachers and other public-sector workers have better benefits (and in some cases, pay) than the vast majority of taxpayers who are paying for all that, despite the continued dysfunctions in those sectors.

    Maybe it’s time for government to step back, and accountability for one’s performance come to the fore … instead of just blaming the rich guys for all the problems.

  • NotHere

    All politics are local…

    As the saying goes; “Never underestimate your enemy”, Democrats learned this in Wisconsin, and from the Republican response here, Republicans will learn it in November. (There are things about to fall loose in the financial world that will play into Obama’s hand – hide and watch. He who forgets history…)

  • Y Shaw

    One of the best analyses I have seen. This would be an opportunity for Romney to provide a vision of the next phase for the union members.

  • http://www.fiscalwars.wordpress.com Crazy Diamond

    “What was once a common vision of the future — the “liberal” utopia of the last fifty years — is behind us now. We need a new future because the old one has turned into the past.”

    Beautifully written. Wealth does not form like clouds in the sky, and the future belongs to those with efficient, streamlined, localized governments that are agile enough to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving environment and differing communities that are often at odds with each other (the “needs” of Greeks, for example, are diametrically opposed to those of Germans by and large). Technology and an increasingly global economy makes it more imperative by the day.

    The markets (people) have spoken; the “one-size-fits-all”, top-down approach to governing is bankrupt.

  • Henry Miller

    “…his real targets are the pillars of American progressivism itself.”

    Considering that American progressivism is the proximate cause of the present dismal state of the American economy, those pillars very much ought to be targets.

  • http://ceinquiry.us Andrew

    “Considering that American progressivism is the proximate cause of the present dismal state of the American economy, those pillars very much ought to be targets.”

    Wrong. Neoliberal economic ideology and deregulation of the financial sector–specifically under legislation signed by Clinton in 1999–is what caused the current crisis.

    …and before you pull the “Blame the Community Reinvestment Act” card, just keep this in mind: home loans made under the CRA performed BETTER than non-CRA home loans. Also, the crashing of the housing market by itself could not have caused the entire financial crisis. Its effects were multiplied by a financial system that allows banks to engage in parasitic speculation and make massive bets on mortgage backed securities.

  • barry1817

    Scott Walker Wins in Landslide, I call it a landslide because that is what the press called the obozo percentage win which was similar.

    but people are waking up to the fact that they don’t want to work and earn less then public sector unions that have better benefits.

    And the people are waking up and realizing that there is no money. Very simple

    And the union bosses, are going to have a really interesting problem, telling the rank and file that they want more money from them after they flushed this money down the toilet.

  • EscondidoSurfer

    The left has no idea of how angry taxpayers and citizens are about the government worker pension and benefit bomb that has hit them. For many it came out of the blue even as they are suffering and services deteriorating. Consider the margins in San Diego and San Jose. The idea that 10% of the population can impose an unjust outcome on the rest of us is ludicrous. The Repubs need to get in front of this problem in a big way. It will turn the blue states into red in a single election cycle.

  • Lavaux

    For me, this vanden Heuvel quote says it all:

    “…in the last 15 months, Wisconsin’s progressives have shown us that the battle against bankrolled austerity can be bravely waged by an army of dedicated people committed to protecting working families. They’ve reminded us that good organizing is our only chance to withstand the blitzkrieg of corporate funded advertising — and better yet, leave a lasting mark.”

    First, “bankrolled austerity” indicates a bedrock progressive belief that America possesses enough wealth to finance progressive goals, if only the state would expropriate the rich. To do that, the states must find a way to seize unrealized wealth, i.e. non-cash property not subject to withholding. Property and wealth taxes reach non-cash property, as does some kind of unrealized capital gains tax (e.g. classifying vested but unrealized stock options as current income), but how to do this without crucifying the middle class, the elderly and pension funds?

    Second, “working families” indicates a bedrock progressive belief that financing progressive goals won’t require imposing high taxes on everyone, including the poor and middle class. This is a damn lie. Progressive Sweden and Denmark rely on cumulative tax burdens nearing 60% of “working family” incomes to pay for all of the free stuff they offer to all comers. Everyone who’s got two shekels to rub together has gotta give up at least one to reach progressive goals, and there ain’t no shortcuts except to insolvency. Think federal VAT.

    Third, “…the blitzkrieg of corporate funded advertising…” assumes that voters don’t know or can’t understand what’s best for their families or themselves, which is why they invariably pull the lever for the candidate with the most commercials. This is why New Coke replaced Coke, and that’s all people drink nowadays in 16 oz. cups. Seriously?

    WRM is spot on once again. Progressives can’t face the truth that their shtick falls flat when the money runs out, it’s every man for himself and government is clearly blocking the way to a better life to keep its cronies fat and happy. What about the rest of us? After all, there’s more of us than you, and we’re smart enough to know that.

  • vanderleun

    From a similar view at Neo:

    http://neoneocon.com/2012/06/07/more-on-the-lefts-reaction-to-the-walker-victory-never-surrender/

    “But although I admire Mead tremendously, and obviously agree with a lot of what he says here—since I’d written much the same yesterday, before I’d even read it—I have a caveat. I think he is being too sanguine.

    I could sum up my attitude in one sentence: Do not underestimate the seductive power of the left. Not only does the left take the long view, but in the long term it may win (at least for a while, and perhaps even longer) if the right is not eternally vigilant.”

    Too sanguine is right.

  • Dave in Calif

    I think comparisons to the PATCO strike are overdone, because this recall never became a national issue to the same degree (arguably PATCO was an *international* issue, as various pundits said during Reagan’s funeral). At most, the failure of the recall impacts the regional balance of power and gets noticed by other states who don’t have a public sector crisis and don’t want to create one.

    I agree with your theme that it takes away some oxygen from the hard Left for the long term. People had just assumed that Wisconsin would always be a utopian bastion with Senators like LaFollette and Feingold (Joe McCarthy being the exception to prove the rule, I guess?) This assumption wasn’t founded on anything solid.

  • Mike Siroky

    Excellent analysis. Too bad the New York Times cannot bring itself to write something as excellent. The Democratic Party has somehow twisted itself into the party of reaction, while the Republican Party is the party of reform. This was the case when the Republican Party fought for the principle of equality under the law during the Civil war and during Reconstruction, while the Democratic Party became the party of Jim Crow. With FDR, the Democrats took on the mantle of progress while the Republicans fought a rear guard action. About 80 years have passed since FDR took the reins and the Democrats have totally spent their inheritance from him. If there is a silver lining, perhaps some Democrat leader will arise that can lead them back from the wilderness they are currently in. That leader is obviously not Barack Obama.

  • Jim.

    @thibaud-

    May I suggest the following short-term strategy for the anti-rentseeker advance…

    The anti-union front is advancing well, but the Healthcare front is collapsing (possibly due to the fact that the rent there isn’t all that high; health insurance company profits tend to be below average comparedto other companies.) This is not where your attention should be directed.

    Your next step should be to make common cause with none other than the TEA party, to bring down / break up TBTF banks.

    I’m serious. TEA party insurgent types are far more likely to be in favor of Shermanesque (either he of anti-trust fame, or old William Tecumseh) tactics to bring those malefactors of great wealth to justice.

    The fact that those who favor this approach are politically divided — and no doubt banking interests want to keep them that way — is the only thing preventing real reform.

    Think about it.

  • Harry J

    Just as the housing bubble was unsustainable, the intellectual bubble is unsustainable. Thus country has been pushed in a leftist ideological direction, by real-life experience starved academics, who have been plotting strategies based on purely theoretical models. In other words, the country now has more “thinkers” than “do-ers”. Mr. Obama and his cabinet of academics’ failure is proof positive that you cannot lead, if you’ve never learned to follow. Liberal / progressives, or whatever they woulfd like to call themselves are always the smartest people in the room … in their own minds, that is. They cannot be defeated by words, as they always have a snotty answer to everything. Conservatives can take a page from the Wisconsin playbook, don’t bother with trying to talk, save your breath, and speak with your vote.

  • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

    … and before you pull the “Blame the Community Reinvestment Act” card …

    Andrew, the CRA opened the door for everything else, by bending the rules for some … in fact, it put banks in a Catch-22: either bend the rules for ALL, or face discrimination suits.

    And having Fannie and Freddie backstopping the parasitic activities that you describe helped them along, as well.

    Don’t discount our government’s active enabling of the bad behavior here … as opposed to merely removing some regulations while still maintaining the accountability of the marketplace.

    I do agree with you that the housing crash was only part of what precipitated the crisis we are enduring … the energy-price spikes that have their roots in our refusal to develop domestic sources in times past on environmental grounds was a major factor in turning a downturn into a crash.

    And the uncertainty of the business sector … seeing a Congress and President looking to milk them as cash cows and social-services surrogates to feed their Utopian dreams … has stretched out the recovery process like never before.

    Until we realize just how much our reliance upon government to solve problem after problem FOR us has led to all this dysfunction, and take steps to curb that practice, the downward slide will continue.

  • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

    [OOPS … bad tag placement!]

  • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

    thibaud … we “Tea Party loons” do not want to starve the government’s ability to perform its legitimate Constitutional duties … that relatively-small set of tasks that directly pertain to its legitimate objective, as described in our Declaration of Independence:

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

    Not unlimited powers – JUST powers.

    With the objective of securing our unalienable rights.

    What I see from government today, though, is akin to an army of blinkered bureaucrats, wielding gold-plated sledgehammers in an attempt to hang the pictures of my life on my wall for me.

    Until we begin to SERIOUSLY question what we are letting our government get involved with, and take steps to limit that, the opportunities for rent-seeking and regulatory capture will remain, if not proliferate … and the socio-economic dysfunctions we all disdain (from welfare to unemployment) will not be effectively or efficiently dealt with, because government is structurally incapable of dealing with the issues at hand in an effective/efficient manner.

    That may not be a “moderate” position … but it is the truth. We ignore it at our peril.

  • Jim

    #41 Kristo — interesting factoid: I was in California at the time of the Facebook IPO, and a lot (I mean a lot) of the local TV news was devoted to speculation as to how much tax revenue the state was going to get from capital gains (which are taxed in California). There actually were people with different points of view trying to forecast the state tax revenues. The sad thing was, none of them apparently realized that capital gains are taxable only if there is a transaction (that is, if the Facebook employee/owner sells his or her shares). They all had the starting point for their analysis that the revenue would be coming into the state in 2012. It’s all so wrong, you don’t even know where to start.

  • georgewill

    Not so fast. A significant share of the voters didn’t vote for recall because they felt that recalls should be reserved for gross malfeasance or criminal activity, not just because they disagreed with Walker’s governance.

  • Andrew P

    Do not assume that the recall results in WI have any bearing on the Presidential race in November. In our very polarized country, moderates and independents are the swing voters that decide elections. Scott Walker’s reforms are working, and the swing voters recognize that increases in their property taxes will be held in check – hence they voted against the recall. Likewise, swing voters vote their 401K’s. The Obama-Bernanke team has doubled the stock market since the 2009 lows. Swing voters are not stupid – they understand the fundamental difference between a State (like WI), which is a currency user and must raise all revenue by taxation, and a currency issuer (like the Federal Government) that can print dollars at will and thus never has to balance its budgets. They know that corporate profits are driven by Federal Deficits, and Bernanke’s QE drives up stocks. Bernanke wants to reelect Obama since Romney has promised not to reappoint him. You can count on Bernanke doing whatever it takes to reelect Obama.

  • Solitus

    1. Out-spend the other candidate 8 to 1
    2. Hire a software technician for Chavez-owned Dominion Voting.
    3. Keep pounding the stupid “2 Santa Clause” drum that got us in this nationwide bankrupt state (Lower taxes, less government)
    4. Smear the ethical candidate. It’s more fun and entertaining to make fun of the smart guy.

    Even Bozo Clown could win under those conditions. Oh wait, he did.

  • PerryM

    To all you Liberals out there:

    There is nothing to worry about, Obama has this locked up, so mark your calendars to go vote November 7 and relax until then.

  • John McNay

    What a waste of over-wrought verbiage. Two things: 1, Most voters polled said they did not want the recall used except in cases of official misconduct. 2, Most voters said they supported public unions. The lesson: This had little to do with the strength or weakness of the unions. The real story of the labor movement was in Ohio in November when labor won a smashing victory. In fact, the real story here is the labor movement is so effective that it could recall state senators and nearly unseat Walker and in Ohio punish a Republican-dominated government that ran roughshod over workers. That is the story here and it is being completely smothered by self-congratulatory garbage.

  • Bert in UT

    Sad. I usually respect what Mead has to say, but this is a total hit-piece on anyone who is
    “left.” Does he see solutions coming from the “right”, other than the right’s version of a free lunch in which we will cut taxes, increase defense spending, but magically the deficit will disappear. Been trying that for 30 years now, hasn’t worked.

  • crankyoldlady

    And the itsy bitsy spider will climb up the spout again. . . Policies like those changed under Governor Walker can change again with the next administration. Or the one following. In a year or five, dues will once again be collected by the state and, when the economy improves, compensation packages will be fattened or strengthened depending on your personal narrative. It’s the way both state government and employee/employer relations usually work. Makes all the emotional drama that surrounds the Walker policies a bit of a tempest in a teapot when viewed from that perspective.

  • RossB

    I agree with most of your points. This was not a huge, winning issue for the Democrats. There are plenty of people who believe that what we need is a lot more private unions and a lot less public ones. Or, at the very least, major reform for the public sector unions. In Finland, for example (the country that routinely shows up as having the best scores in scholastic tests) all of the teachers are in unions. Why is it the teachers in Finland can do so well, but ours can’t?

    My biggest quibble with the article is the suggestion that Democrats are beholden to union interests, and thus can’t come up with different ideas to solve problems. This is ridiculous. The cornerstone policy of the last two presidents has been health care reform. In both cases, the president proposed a free market based system very similar to the Nixon plan. The Democrats are very interested in solving problems, and are willing to try Republican ideas in an effort to do so; meanwhile, most Republican leaders believe that if we simply cut taxes, cut government and cut regulation, then these problems will solve themselves. There are very few pragmatic, Nixon/Eisenhower type Republicans around anymore, and the country suffers because of it. The irony, of course, is that Romney is exactly that sort of Republican, but in the current climate, it is unlikely that he would ever govern like one (unless he goes back to running a left leaning state).

  • SammyV

    The important question to ask, though, is whether the people united went “all the way down” in flames, or would they have left […]. And if you think I’m telling a dirty joke to my ingroup while I’m in a public forum then I’ll just deny it. Look at the lost puuppy dog look on my face, and ignore the knowing smirk. Because I have no idea what you’re talking about.[But Grandmother Mead would have caught the reference at her dinner table and banned it, so it doesn’t fly here. Sorry.]

  • Right Wing Nutter

    Now if only the California electorate would get a similar clue about the result of “progressive” policies. Not likely short of the state’s economic collapse. That’s roughly a decade away.

  • MichaelM

    All that happened in WI was one interest group won the public relations campaign while another interest group failed.

    When facing questions of politics, always ask this one question: “Who gains?”

  • Chris Maxwell

    The recall in Wisconsin gives both sides the chance to come away with the wrong conclusions. On the Republican side the victory will be taken as a green light to continue over reaching. On the Democratic side it will be seen as a money bomb victory. Both these conclusions are fatally flawed.

    The people of Wisconsin though they might have strongly disagreed with Governor Walker’s methods saw no reason for a recall. The nomination of Barrett was a rerun of an election and Wisconsin didn’t like him any better the second time around. These two things put together made the outcome of the recall a no brainer. It wasn’t a green light for Republicans and the money bomb didn’t really matter. If the Democratic candidate had been a more compelling figure that kept on message it may have swayed the voting public to recall Walker even though the majority simply did not believe he had done anything illegal.

    One need not look further than Ohio to see what I speak of here. In that state the Republicans over-reached by taking away collective bargaining and the people responded by putting the issue on the ballot. Although many millions was poured into Ohio the law removing collective bargaining was struck down. If it had involved the recall and removal of Ohio’s governor the result may have been quite different.

  • thibaud

    #132 Chris Maxwell nails it:

    “Although many millions was poured into Ohio the law removing collective bargaining was struck down. If it had involved the recall and removal of Ohio’s governor the result may have been quite different.”

    There is no support in this nation for the GOP over reaching that we see in Paul Ryan’s ludicrous budget proposal or other starve-the-beast fantasies of the TPers.

    Interesting that Romney very firmly distanced himself from this madness recently when he vowed (“of course!”) that he would not slash spending before the economy recovered.

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