Thursday, June 7, 2012

What's Changed After Wisconsin

You know, what happened in Wisconsin is actually pretty amazing. I would like to think that people are beginning to pay attention. Beginning to realize how out of control our Country has gotten.

For many years now, Conservatives have kept their head down, nose to the grindstone, working, paying taxes, and not paying attention. We let our guard down. We trusted those in washington to be good stewards of the tax dollars we trust them with.

And while we went about the business of keeping this Country financially secure (we had hoped), democrats and unions have taken over. They have put us in dire straits financially and in many other ways. Socially, our Country has gone to the dogs. It seems more people these days would rather sue somebody than have a real job. Or sit on their asses collecting food stamps and welfare instead of earning an honest living. How did this happen? It wasn't overnight. The shape we are in took a long time.

But the Scott Walker recall election may mark the day we, Conservatives, said enough is enough. We can't let unions dictate the direction of our budgets, locally, at the State level or Nationally. And how, exactly, are OUR employees entitled to a far better salary than their non- government counterparts? And how are they entitled to pensions and a lifetime insurance benefit, at our expense? It just doesn't make good sense. It never has, but when you can elect the person who will be negotiating your contract, it does tend to make it a little easier.

Scott Walker did the unthinkable. He took on the unions and beat them at their own game. Normally this would be political suicide, as the democrats and the unions tried to prove with the recall. But, I think we have finally woken up in this Country. What we thought was a pleasant dream turned out to be a nightmare in the light of day. Fixing it won't be easy. We have to stand behind the people with the character and intestinal fortitude to set us back on the right path. Just like the Good People of Wisconsin stood behind Scott Walker...

By Peggy Noonan - The Wall Street Journal

What happened in Wisconsin signals a shift in political mood and assumption. Public employee unions were beaten back and defeated in a state with a long progressive tradition. The unions and their allies put everything they had into "one of their most aggressive grass-roots campaigns ever," as the Washington Post's Paul Whoriskey and Dan Balz reported in a day-after piece. Fifty thousand volunteers made phone calls and knocked on 1.4 million doors to get out the vote against Gov. Scott Walker. Mr. Walker's supporters, less deeply organized on the ground, had a considerable advantage in money.

But organization and money aren't the headline. The shift in mood and assumption is. The vote was a blow to the power and prestige not only of the unions but of the blue-state budgetary model, which for two generations has been: Public-employee unions with their manpower, money and clout, get what they want. If you move against them, you will be crushed.

Mr. Walker was not crushed. He was buoyed, winning by a solid seven points in a high-turnout race.

Governors and local leaders will now have help in controlling budgets. Down the road there will be fewer contracts in which you work for, say, 23 years for a city, then retire with full salary and free health care for the rest of your life—paid for by taxpayers who cannot afford such plans for themselves, and who sometimes have no pension at all. The big meaning of Wisconsin is that a public injustice is in the process of being righted because a public mood is changing.

Political professionals now lay down lines even before a story happens. They used to wait to do the honest, desperate, last-minute spin of yesteryear. Now it's strategized in advance, which makes things tidier but less raggedly fun. The line laid down by the Democrats weeks before the vote was that it's all about money: The Walker forces outspent the unions so they won, end of story.

Money is important, as all but children know. But the line wasn't very flattering to Wisconsin's voters, implying that they were automatons drooling in front of the TV waiting to be told who to back. It was also demonstrably incorrect. Most voters, according to surveys, had made up their minds well before the heavy spending of the closing weeks.

Mr. Walker didn't win because of his charm—he's not charming. It wasn't because he is compelling on the campaign trail—he's not, especially. Even his victory speech on that epic night was, except for its opening sentence—"First of all, I want to thank God for his abundant grace," which, amazingly enough, seemed to be wholly sincere—meandering, unable to name and put forward what had really happened.

But on the big question—getting control of the budget by taking actions resisted by public unions—he was essentially right, and he won.

By the way, the single most interesting number in the whole race was 28,785. That is how many dues-paying members of the American Federation of State, County and Municiple Employees were left in Wisconsin after Mr. Walker allowed them to choose whether union dues would be taken from their paychecks each week. Before that, Afscme had 62,218 dues-paying members in Wisconsin. There is a degree to which public union involvement is, simply, coerced.

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