George Will notes what many upper-Midwest conservatives have been saying since February; the left went all-in on Wisconsin because if they can lose there, they can lose any and everywhere.
I’ll start with Will’s conclusion:
As the moonless night of fa$ci$m descends on America’s dairyland, sidewalk graffiti next to the statehouse-square drinking fountain darkly warns: “Free water . . . for now.” There, succinctly, is liberalism’s credo: If everything isn’t “free,” meaning paid for by someone else, nothing will be safe.
That’s the crux of it all, really – but it wasn’t what the Wisconsin flap was about.
In fact, you could be forgiven for watching the American left this past seven months and having no idea what it was all about:
During the recall tumult, unions barely mentioned either their supposed grievance about collective bargaining, or their real fears, which concern money, particularly political money. Teachers unions can no longer bargain to require school districts to purchase teachers’ health insurance from the union’s preferred provider, which is especially expensive. This is saving millions of dollars and reducing teacher layoffs. Also, unions must hold annual recertification votes.
And teachers unions may no longer automatically deduct dues from members’ paychecks. After Colorado in 2001 required public employees unions to have annual votes reauthorizing collection of dues, membership in the Colorado Association of Public Employees declined 70 percent. In 2005, Indiana stopped collecting dues from unionized public employees; in 2011, there are 90 percent fewer dues-paying members. In Utah, the end of automatic dues deductions for political activities in 2001 caused teachers’ payments to fall 90 percent. After a similar law passed in 1992 in Washington state, the percentage of teachers making such contributions declined from 82 to 11.
Democrats furiously oppose Walker because public employees unions are transmission belts, conveying money to the Democratic Party. Last year, $11.2 million in union dues was withheld from paychecks of Wisconsin’s executive branch employees and $2.6 million from paychecks at the university across the lake. Having spent improvidently on the recall elections, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the teachers union, is firing 40 percent of its staff.
Progressives want to recall Walker next year. Republicans hope they try. Wisconsin seems weary of attempts to overturn elections, and surely Obama does not want his allies squandering political money and the public’s patience. Since 1960, no Democrat has been elected president without carrying Wisconsin.
Will – or the copy editor that wrote his headline, anyway – uses the “Waterloo” metaphor; a defeat that makes further victories impossible (until some sort of radical game-changer):
Walker has refuted the left’s sustaining conviction that a leftward-clicking ratchet guarantees that liberalism’s advances are irreversible. Progressives, eager to discern a victory hidden in their recent failures, suggest that a chastened Walker will not risk further conservatism. Actually, however, his agenda includes another clash with teachers unions over accountability and school choice, and combat over tort reform with another cohort parasitic off bad public policies — trial lawyers.
I can hardly wait for the next session – on both sides of the Saint Croix.