Battleground Wisconsin

Jacob Laksin is a senior writer for Front Page Magazine. He is co-author, with David Horowitz, of The New Leviathan (Crown Forum, 2012), and One-Party Classroom (Crown Forum, 2009). Email him at jlaksin@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @jlaksin.


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“Don’t retreat! Recall!” declared Wisconsin’s Democrats after failing to take back the State senate through a special election this August. Now, backed by their allies in public sector unions, they are trying to heed their own slogan, repurposing their efforts in a bid to recall their principal hate figure, Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Early media hype has cast the state’s recall campaign as a showdown not only over Walker’s efforts to reign in collective bargaining by most public sector unions but also as a referendum on the efforts of Republican governors across the country to balance state budgets by challenging union power. But the reality may be decidedly less dramatic.

Contrary to the left-wing opposition’s spin, the recall campaign is not really representative of a broad uprising against Walker, let alone Republicans nationwide. Spearheading the recall effort is a left-wing political action group called United Wisconsin. Although United Wisconsin styles itself as a “grassroots organization” of “concerned citizens” and a “growing base of volunteers,” it would be more accurate to describe it, as the Wisconsin-based conservative watchdog group Media Trackers has, as “just another front for the Democratic Party and left-wing interests in Wisconsin.”

Despite claiming grassroots credentials, United Wisconsin has enjoyed the backing of all the Wisconsin branches of the leading government unions, including the SEIU, the AFT, and the AFL-CIO. United Wisconsin’s staff meanwhile is made up of veteran Democrat operatives and left-wing activists. Meagan Mahaffey, the group’s executive director, has a background in the state’s Democratic politics. And the group’s public relations director, Angie Aker, is also the managing director of MoveOn.org. United Wisconsin may not be entirely an “astroturf” campaign, but its clear that it has been organized by powerful left-wing advocacy groups.

That may well hurt the recall campaign, since it’s not clear that Wisconsinites generally share the left’s disdain for Walker or the desire to see him recalled. While Walker’s disapproval ratings have risen slightly in recent months, there is no clear indication that state residents want him out of office. A recent poll by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic poling firm, found an even split on the recall, with half in favor and half against. Whatever their feelings about Walker, on the issue of the recall Wisconsin is by no means united.

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  • Steve

    The only hope is to outlaw public employee unions….anything short of this is failure…unless we consider the bankruptcy of our cities, counties and states a success.

    • Raymond in DC

      One doesn't need to outlaw them. It's easy enough for the employer to elect not to withhold union dues from the employee's paycheck, putting the burden of collecting those dues onto the union. There's also no law that says the government has to capitulate to union demands.

  • kafir

    Never buy union made goods.

    • john

      yea buy goods from china what a chump u are

      • Rifleman

        Might as well, if you're going to buy from commies anyway.

        • Amused

          Still brain damaged eh Rifleman ? John's right kafir';s a chump and so are you .

          • pagegl

            If unions keep making the demand of more money for less work we won't have any alternatives; companies will continue to move manufacturing to China.

          • Rifleman

            Still smartin' from that last spankin', are ya?

  • http://visionsandprinciples.blogspot.com/ InRussetShadows

    Fortunately for everyone else, the WI left is much more arrogant than they are perceptive. Walker is simply not unpopular enough to be recalled. The left's effort will waste their money and make more of the state's citizens hate them and I look forward to that. Idiots, tally ho!

  • StephenD

    You would think that the folks that pay the tab would be more vociferous in their support for Walker. I recall when this all started while the unions called for support of "The middle class" wanting people to support the public employee unions, it was asked: Which "Middle Class" should I support, the ones wanting more or the ones paying the bill? I think showing the costs to tax payers for siding with the unions and the savings for rejecting the unions calls for support would go a long way in supporting the Governors stance.

  • Raymond in DC

    The left is hoping to wear the opposition down in a war of attrition. They believe that "elections have consequences" only if they win. If they lose, they want a "do over", and then another one, until they get the results they seek.

  • Rifleman

    It sounds like a wonderful way for the left to squander their money.

  • http://www.tartanmarine.blogspot.com Robert A. Hall

    Wisconsin is ranked 16th on the list of best run states, while Illinois, where I live, is 49th, just above California. (http://tiny.cc/k9nxo) Illinois simply cannot afford to lose more jobs, businesses and taxpayers to Wisconsin. Your neighbors to the south are hoping your effort to Recall Walker succeed, so you will turn into the same kind of fiscal disaster we are, thus saving jobs here. Michigan is 48th, so no threat, but Governor Walker will take away jobs and tax dollars that belong here. Please stop him. There’s room here at the bottom for you.

    I will link to this from my Old Jarhead blog.  

    Robert A. Hall
    Author: The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
    (All royalties go to a charity to help wounded veterans)
    For a free PDF of my book, write tartanmarine(at)gmail.com

  • mrbean

    “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt in his letter to the National Federation of Federal Employees in 1937. But…unions snuck into government representation through the backdoor. In 1958, New York City Democratic Mayor Robert Wagner signed an executive order for the City of New York allowing civil workers to unionize. It was an obvious bribe in exchange for union support and appeal to union voters. Wagner was told that city workers would be a large enough constituency to guarantee his re-election. This opened up the floodgates around the country as other Democratic legislators followed Wagner’s poor judgment. In 1959, Wisconsin became the first state to make the lethal mistake of granting public workers the dangerous weapon of collective bargaining – for taxpayer’s money (‘ Always Free Money’ – from a Democrat government’s perspective).

  • 11bravo

    JFK signed an executive order in 1960 for the fed workers I believe. Auto deduction of dues is usually part of the contract, so that issue alone would cause a strike because with out it the union member participation drops to 10% as well as the power of the unions.
    The next prez should rescind Kennedy's order, and stop auto deduction of dues from fed workers.

  • Amused

    One Question : Is the Recall process Constitutional ?

    Answer : DAMN RIGHT IT IS .

    So suck it up sycophants , if the people want him out , then out he'll be . If not ? Then he'll
    remain .

    That's American as apple-pie , and if any of you phonies dont like it , you can get the hell out ….pack your bags and go to the fascist state of your choice .
    And the only reason you schmucks hate unions , is that you've got your heads so far up the rear ends of people like the Koch bros .LOL….and none of you are want to come up for air .

    • pagegl

      The only fascism around here is coming from the likes of you.

      • Amused

        well genius if your against the recall process , then YOU are the fascist . Perhaps you ought to study your own Constitution in its totality , rather than "pick and choose " which many of the so called christians here do routinely with their bibles . LOL….they usually are one in the same , and that most likely describes " the likes of YOU "

        • pagegl

          I have no problems with recalls if they're based on some real reasons. But, having a recall as a piss-off attack because the majority elected government is just doing what they said they were going to do is way off the deep end. The unions need a good look at how the rest of us live. Reality can be a bitch but losing collective bargaining on benefits is not a big honkin' deal, unless you're a spoiled brat.. BTW, application or recall or, more accurately stated, impeachment in the Constitution is limited to federal office. Maybe Wisconsin's constitution allows for the election losers to toss tantrums to get what they want.

        • truebearing

          To say someone is a Fascist because they oppose the recall process is evidence that you don't have a clue as to what the term means.

          Unions, while run by Marxists and Communists, are engaged in Fascist corporatism on a regular basis, especially since Maobama got elected. Learn your terms BEFORE you use them in one of your deranged jeremiads.

    • coyote3

      I certainly am not foolish enough to base my purchase of goods on whether they were made by union people, or not. Indeed, I look for what I consider the best value, and consider how I am going to use the product. If I consider it a value and it is union made, I won't hesitate to buy it, However, if I get equal or greater value from a nonunion product, for a better price, notwithstanding where it is made. Tools are a good example. For occasional use, I have found that many of the Chinese made tools are just fine, and some even have guarantees, and they are much more reasonably priced than U.S. made "brand name" items. I purchase the product, I don't purchase the worker.

  • Amused

    Try buying AMERICAN coyote3 , not for the sake of unions but for the sake of your COUNTRY.
    A statistic so constantly claimed by the naysayers and haters of unions is that they only comprise 18% of the work force in America .If that's so , then the majority of goods actually manufactured here in the USA , are NOT made by union labor . Of course US made products are higher priced than the garbage coming over from China , government subsidized or dirt cheap labor makes that possible ….but in reality , it's the profit margin that drives the big companies that DO NOT price their items according to cost , they simply make more money , for if they did , the pricing for Chinese made goods would be even cheaper. But they're NOT.Although I'm 100 % a union man and backer , I am 150 % an American Made /Consumer , and IF I pay more for such items , it is for the greater good of my fellow Americans , and on average , such goods are better made .

    • coyote3

      You certainly free to purchase however you wish. I admit, I did lump union made with U.S. made, but the statistics of union membership are even lower, nationwide, than the figure you suggest. However, as I stated before, I look for value. I have, what I consider good value from U.S. made products, but I have also ended up purchasing U.S. junk at inflated prices ( have no idea whether either were union made or not). A good example is .22 rimfire target ammunition. The U.S. manufacturers have virtually abandoned the field, at least for the super accurate sub sonic stuff. To be fair, I have purchased excellent products from overseas, at an excellent price, including from China. I have also ended up purchasing foreign made junk. My point is that I will "not" pay a premium for any goods that are not a "value" to me. That "value" is somewhat subjective, in that if I have purchased inexpensive (read cheap) Chinese products that I did not intend to subject to hard, daily use. They were fore occasional use, or basically had a passive use. I never did, do not, and will not purchase products based solely on their country of origin.

  • Amused

    For all the squealing that goes on here about patriotism /love of country etc.etc . blah ,blah blah …to that I say put your money where your mouth is .Being involved for the past 30 years in all aspects of the Telecom Industry , using all sorts of tools ranging from simple shovels and hand tools to extremely accurate electronic test equiptment like optical or metallic time domain reflectometers , earth return ground fault indicators ,subscriber loop analyzers ,ALL American made [ NOT ASSEMBLED CHINESE OR FOREIGN PARTS ] I've found them sturdy , dependable and ALL guranteed by their AMERICAN manufacturers , and not as what you described , which are merely guarantees made by the retailer ,[no , no reimbursement or repairs by the Chinese ] to retain customer loyalty , thus the "loss" is absorbed by the retailer , but easily made up bfor , buy the huge profit margin on Chinese goods .

  • Amused

    There are many , many great American Made Products , which are in fact 100% American Made , and not necessarrily Union Made . Companies like 3M, Stanley ,JDSU ,Fluke , American Ladder , American Cable , I could list another hundred . So if you are truly a patriot , your notion of "greater value " is flawed since you say you make no distinction between union made or foreign made , but saying that , you imply you are impartial to uinon made as opposed to foreign made , hows about simply American made . Of those products there is little difference in pricing whether union or non-union made , so there is absolutely no advantage buying union or non-union when it comes to American made products ….only one of partiality due to ideology ….and that's got NOTHING TO DO with value . For union or not , the workers are your fellow Americans , and their success is our success , a notion totally lostt bon these so called "conservatives " which are almost exclusively union haters .
    They're biting their noses to spite their faces …

    • coyote3

      Let's get this straight, all thing being equal,, and I say again, all things being equal, my notion of "greater value" makes no distinction between U.S. and foreign made. The country of origin has never been, is not, and never will be a determining factor in determining a purchase. I base it on price, quality, availability of repair, (including parts, if applicable), and most of all, the manner in which I intend to use the product. In some cases I do end up purchasing U.S. made products, but in other cases I choose the foreign items.

  • Amused

    Hypocrisy disguised as "patriotism " .

    • Wideband

      Another amusing rant from "Amused". (Who’s diatribes, incidentally make “Outraged” a far more appropriate moniker.) Relax, you’re still undefeated versus your strawmen.

      • truebearing

        I don't know about that. I think the strawmen may even be beating him.

  • truebearing

    The unions really want a win in Wisconsin. They got their butt kicked in 2010, then in the collective extortion fight, and again in the Kloppenburg/Prosser Supreme Court election. They managed to recall a couple of Republicans, but didn't succeed at gaining a majority, and spent at least 30 million dollars in that failure. As usual, they are filled with hate and want revenge….revenge against the voters who didn't see things their way.

    Having participated in all of the Tea Party rallies on the square, in Madison, I have witnessed the behavior of the unions, and as usual, it was belligerent, bullying, ruthless, and contemptible. They are basically a political criminal syndicate, parasitic and devoid of any moral character.