Rachel on Wisconsin: Will Democrats defend unions or let them die?

This starts out as a story about the wickedness in Wisconsin — new wingnut governor Scott Walker and his “fierce advocacy” (hmm) of union-busting — and ends up as a story about us.

So let’s start. In the following Rachel Maddow Show clip, Rachel discusses how the blot in Wisconsin’s milkbowl isn’t a fight about money, but about something else — Republicans who are willing to go to the mat for their misguided (there’s a kind word) principles; and Democrats who maybe aren’t. Listen:


A few gloss-like notes:

At 4:37: “So the last time Scott Walker did something like this in his desperation to get rid of employees who join unions, he improperly fired them, he overstated how much money that would save, and then he allowed a private foreign-based butt-vodka company to put a convicted criminal in charge of security at the Milwaukee County courthouse and city hall. That’s Wisconsin’s new governor.”

That sure answers the “who coulda known?” question, doesn’t it.

At 5:05: “The unions at the center of this fight offered … to give the governor all the financial concessions he wanted.”

Really? In other words, they offered to lay flat on the ground so he could walk on them, and he said, Sorry, not flat enough. Really.

At 5:52: “The governor supported adding about $140 million to the state’s deficit when he passed a bunch of tax cuts without paying for them.” Paraphrasing Amy Winehouse, what kind of fiscal hawkery is this?

At 7:00: Note that chart, which Maddow has shown before. A picture of Republican money, and Democratic money. The Republican money sources are all corporate-funded. (That’s where your Target and Best Buy dollars go to, folks. Just keep shopping; nothing to see here.)

In fact, as Chris in Paris has pointed out, Scott Walker’s election itself was a Koch-fueled production. Just in case you’re wondering how that happened.

At 7:20: “The question is whether or not Democrats understand the sources of their political power well enough to defend those institutions.” (Her emphasis.)

That certainly is the question. And the answer seems to be something I’ve said a million times: Money enables Republicans and neuters Democrats. That’s its job, and it does it well.

But I don’t want to end there. I want to end here. It’s obvious we’re facing a revolutionary force using Leninist tactics to commandeer and subvert existing institutions. (The Republicans have fallen. The Baptists have fallen. The courts have fallen. Who’s next?)

They’re playing to win. Maybe that would work for us as well. What’s the natural offset to the national Republican party? Why, the national Democratic party. How about we start there?

Would it be so deadly to take our eyes off the Republicans for a while? After all, how effective has it been for Progressives to fight them from, ahem, left field?

What if we targeted the Democrats for a change, relentlessly? What if we turned the Democratic party into their counter-posing force? What if we played to win? (Unlike, for example, those unions who couldn’t prostrate themselves flat enough for the right-wing daddy to say Thank you.)

I just raise the question. After all, there’s an in-my-face group that seems to be showing the way.


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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