The Left brings out the big guns, but AWOL Wisconsin Democrats are starting to crack.
Nothing says “leftist hypocrisy” quite so well as when the king of double standards – faux-umentary film-maker Michael Moore – is trotted out to rally the troops. The millionaire director’s “I’m standing up for the working class” act added yet another level of surreal to the bizarre atmosphere in Madison, Wisconsin, as union supporters held another massive rally this weekend. “We're going to do this together,” Moore told the crowd on Saturday. “Don't give up. Please don't give up.” According to an AP story, Moore went on to describe Governor Scott Walker’s attempt to restore some sanity to Wisconsin’s budget in the hackneyed terms of class warfare:
Moore said the wealthy have overreached, first taking the working class' money and then taking their souls by shutting them up at the bargaining table. The crowd yelled "thank you" before Moore began to speak, and he responded: "All of America thanks you, Wisconsin.
That sort of rhetoric played right to the hearts of the protestors, but there was no substance in it. Teachers, one of the largest constituencies in the union rabble, can hardly be called working class, at least not in the pity-provoking sense that Moore intended: i.e. unskilled and semi-skilled laborers. Nor is anyone trying to destroy organized labor in America. Rather, the governor of Wisconsin is simply trying to rein in out of control public sector unions and create a relationship between the state and its employees that is equivalent to that found in dozens of other states and within the federal government itself.
How long can the left keep this up in the Dairy State? According to reports, signs indicate that the “Wisconsin Fourteen” are starting to crack. The AWOL Democrat senators and Governor Walker spoke over the weekend in an attempt to reach some kind of compromise. They failed to find common ground, which led one of the Democratic senators, Lena Taylor, to make a spectacularly ironic comment:
"I ask the governor, 'Do your job. Come to the table and speak to Wisconsin workers,"' Taylor said. "We agree that fiscally we need to do things differently. We even agree that there are some places where we need to talk about how we negotiate. ... However, we refuse to accept in America that we don't believe that a voice at the table is an option. It is not an option of a leader and it surely is not the Wisconsin way."
One has to wonder if Taylor is listening to what she’s saying. Unlike Senator Taylor, Governor Walker is actually at his desk in Madison, doing the job he was elected to do. It is Senator Taylor and her thirteen colleagues who refuse to do their jobs. It is Senator Taylor and her thirteen colleagues who refuse to negotiate in the democratic forum of a state legislature, a sacred institution that we hold so dear. Why do they refuse to negotiate and to instead hold the state of Wisconsin hostage? Because they know that they will lose any negotiation. Thus, Taylor and her colleagues aren’t asking Walker and Wisconsin Republicans to reasonably work out a “compromise” deal; they’re rather demanding that the majority submit to minority party blackmail.
Yet, the fact that the fourteen AWOL senators are even having a discussion with Walker is a sign that they’re looking for a way out. The governor upped the ante last week on a number of fronts. On a personal level, Walker declared that the senators are subject to arrest the moment they re-enter Wisconsin at any time. Previously, the arrest order only applied when the legislature was in session. This means that the fourteen senators are taking a risk if they try to sneak back to enjoy a quick visit with their families. Walker also suspended their pay, putting further pressure on the senators and their backers.
On the legislative front, Walker is making moves to lay-off about 1,500 state workers whose duties are deemed “non-essential” by the governor’s office. Preliminary notices of the governor’s intent to pursue this action have been sent to the public employee unions that may be affected, including AFSCME, Association of State Prosecutors and Wisconsin Education Association Council. Walker says that he will have to proceed with the lay-offs, unless recalcitrant Democratic senators return so that the state can cut the budget using the governor’s original plan. If that scenario plays out, Democrats and their union allies hope that public opinion will turn against Walker, reinforcing the leftist idea that the governor is a mean-spirited, uncompromising tyrant. That’s the best-case scenario on the left, but it seems unlikely to come to fruition. The public as a whole is far more sympathetic about the need to economize than it was just two years ago. If Walker does make the lay-offs, one doubts that public opinion will shift much and – if it does – it will likely cause more people to move toward the governor’s camp.
Political strategist and pundit Dick Morris believes that a face-saving surrender for the Democrats in Wisconsin is already in the works. According to Morris, Walker will ultimately give up two relatively unimportant features of his plan: 1) pay increases in excess of the Consumer Price Index rate having to be approved by referendum, and 2) the requirement for union members to vote to recertify their unions on an annual basis. The most important features of the plan, including the pension and health care concessions and eliminating collective bargaining for wages and benefits, would be retained. That would be a tremendous victory for Scott Walker, the state of Wisconsin and conservatives across the country. It would also be something of a defeat for Michael Moore, but there’s no need to worry. Unlike the state of Wisconsin, Moore isn’t in any danger of missing a meal anytime soon.