In his search for the America’s most austere governor, Andrew Sullivan accepted GOP Governor Walker’s contention that he simply desired to balance the budget with fat cat union members and state legislature Democrats were being “cowards” for fleeing the state and denying the state legislature quorum. The NY Times’ resident conservative, David Brooks insists that everyone* must hurt (*everyone except for the richest folks who have enjoyed an extension of Bush Tax cuts). Time’s Joe Klein alleged that the unions were supporting legislators who were being anti-Democratic and bashed unions using some anecdote about an NYC janitor’s local 30 years ago.
Despite their questionable provenance, public unions can serve an important social justice role, guaranteeing that a great many underpaid workers–school bus drivers, janitors (outside of New York City), home health care workers–won’t be too severely underpaid. That role will be kept intact in Wisconsin.
It’s odd enough that Klein and Sullivan believe the minority party taking advantage of quorum rules in Roberts Rules of Order to stop a destruction of union rights is anti-democratic or that Brooks doesn’t thinks that union members have sacrificed. Actually, it shows that both are slow to understand today’s conservatism or the value of various forms of dissent allowed members of deliberative bodies. For them, the answer to: why would legislators make such a drastic move? was cowardice, crony-ism and craven custodians.
Props to TPM’s Josh Marshall who astutely saw past conservative true believers’ and DC journos implicit trust of the pure intent behind Gov. Walker’s worker bashing and guessed that the Wisconsin Governor had begun to overplay his hand by trying to destroy state workers’ collective bargaining rights. It’s becoming apparent to those outside of the Republican base that Walker is trying to starve the government, erode union membership and destroy the Democratic political base.
Walker laid out his choices: accept his stark terms as-is (benefits reductions, pay decreases and a ridiculous elimination of collective bargaining rights) or lay offs for thousands of state workers next week. The fact that the unions have already agreed to fiscal concessions Walker says he needs to balance the state budget means collective bargaining actually hasn’t stopped his fiscal agenda, even as he holds fireside chats to claim that it has.
Sullivan has come around to understand at least that Walker didn’t run on ending collective bargaining and he is overstepping his mandate. In addition, Walker is seeking permission to sell government assets without open bids. Basically, he is a corporate welfare conservative.
None of them knew each other before the protest began.
The conservative attempts to attack unions, demoralize immigrants, de-fund women’s health and reproductive rights groups and reduce contributions for public broadcasting amidst almost 10% unemployment are spurring Democratic base to civil action. Elected Democrats should take note and realize they should draw the line where their base does.
Engaged protesters and activists are most likely to become workers for GOTV in the 2011 and 2012 elections.