Wisconsin Reax: Unions Lose Big

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 6 2012 @ 11:05am

First, a moment of hathos:

My own reflections soon. Meanwhile, Josh Marshall sees the result in Wisconsin as a sign of things to come:

Walker went big to destroy the public-sector unions in his state. And the labor movement went all out to take him down and lost. Wisconsin’s a pretty progressive, fairly blue-ish state. This result in this state has to embolden Republican governors across the country to think you can go for game-changing attacks on key Democratic constituencies like labor and not pay a price at the polls. Public employees unions across the country have feel like they have crosshairs on their backs. And they do.

Chait agrees:

Walker’s win will certainly provide a blueprint for fellow Republicans. When they gain a majority, they can quickly move to not just wrest concessions from public sector unions but completely destroy them, which in turn eliminates one of the strongest sources of political organization for the Democratic Party. And whatever backlash develops, it’s probably not enough to outweigh the political benefit. Walker has pioneered a tactic that will likely become a staple of Republican governance. Fortune favors the bold.

Douthat puts the failed recall in perspective:

To understand the broader trends at work, a useful place to turn is Jay Cost’s essay on "The Politics of Loss" in the latest issue of National Affairs. … Between our slowing growth and our unsustainable spending commitments, "the days when lawmakers could give to some Americans without shortchanging others are over; the politics of deciding who loses what, and when and how, is upon us." In this era, debates will be increasingly zero-sum, bipartisan compromise will be increasingly difficult, and "the rules and norms of our politics that several generations have taken for granted" will fade away into irrelevance.

Ezra Klein considers political fundraising:

[T]wo things are happening simultaneously among the key interest groups in American politics. Labor is getting weaker. And corporations, in part due to Citizens United, are getting much stronger. The electoral effect of that is obvious: It favors Republicans. But the legislative effect is, perhaps, more significant: It favors corporate interests in Congress, as Democrats will have to be that much more solicitous of business demands in order to keep from being spent into oblivion.

Frum zooms out:

Wisconsin has definitively exposed the failure of the American left to build an effective populist movement despite the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. The Wisconsin recall vote was a battle at a time and place of the unions' own choosing. They still lost, and in one of the bluest states of non-coastal America. Who'll fear them now? Say what you will about the Tea Party, it collected scalps. The unions plus Occupy plus the remnants of the '08 Obama campaign have not. Perhaps that will change if a Republican wins the White House – but until and unless the left loses that fight too, we won't know.

Mark Blumenthal points out that Walker won 17 percent of Obama voters. Tomasky predicts that Obama will nevertheless win Wisconsin in November:

Yesterday, about 2.5 million people voted. In 2010, it was 2.15 million. In 2008, it was 2.93 million. Assume a turnout in November of around 2.7 million, maybe 2.8. In general, higher turnout favors Democrats, as we know. So the plus six or 11 or whatever Obama advantage from yesterday is probably, if anything, a tad low.