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Teachers Strike Is Nightmare for Obama

The Chicago teacher strike, the high-profile fight pitting two branches of his own party against one another, is now entering its fourth day. The New York Times dissects the conflict and profiles the risks it poses to the president:

The strike pits several core components of the Democratic coalition against one another: The teachers’ union and much of organized labor are on a war footing against Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s Democratic mayor and Mr. Obama’s former chief of staff. What is more, the strike pits organized labor against myriad wealthy liberals — vital donors to Democratic coffers — many of whom contribute heavily to efforts to finance charter schools and weaken teachers’ unions.

“Any time we’re fighting among ourselves, it’s never helpful,” said Michael Fraioli, a Democratic strategist. “Any time you waste money and time fighting each other, it’s money we’re not spending fighting our real opponents.”

A growing number of Democratic leaders on the state and city level believe that public sector unions—especially teacher’s unions—need to learn to do more with less. This message has allowed some of those leaders to succeed and even thrive by taking on unions in deep blue states like Rhode Island.

American society as a whole seems to be growing more skeptical of public sector unions.  Helped along by the reality of major budget crises facing many city and state governments, the pro-reform wing is slowly gaining ground. This change is probably good for the Democrats in the long run, but in the short-term future, unions will remain a key source of funding and political support for the party in election seasons.

This sort of intra-Democrat civil war is exactly what Obama doesn’t need right now.

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