George Will and the Wisconsin Progressive Waterloo.

George Will visits the wreckage-strewn battlefield where Wisconsin progressives launched their desperate counter-attack against the forces of reform, and finds a certain grim satisfaction there.  To refresh people’s memories: Wisconsin progressives’ refusal to accept the widespread repudiation of the Democratic party in Wisconsin in 2010 (loss of the state legislature, two Congressional seats lost, progressive icon US Senator Russ Feingold handily if not contemptuously defeated by Ron Johnson, loss of the executive branch) led them to desperate attempts to retroactively rewrite reality to make The Bad Thing never happen.  While they (and their Big Labor manipulators) were able to force Wisconsin Democrats to go along with a hapless (and futile) fight over collective bargaining reform, attempts to create change via popular outrage failed, largely because Wisconsin progressives failed to create any actual permanent outrage outside of their rather narrow sub-demographics*.  Reform measures thus passed, much to the impotent rage of its enemies.

We’ll have George take it from here:

Having failed to prevent enactment of the Walker agenda voters had endorsed, unions and their progressive allies tried to recall six Republican senators. If three had been recalled, Democrats would have controlled the Senate, and other governors and state legislators would have been warned not to challenge unions. Fueled by many millions of dollars from national unions and sympathizers, progressives proved, redundantly, the limited utility of money when backing a bankrupt agenda: Only two Republicans were recalled — one was in a heavily Democratic district, the other is a married man playing house with a young girlfriend. Progressives also failed to defeat a Supreme Court justice.

An especially vociferous progressive group calls itself “We Are Wisconsin.” Evidently not.

George goes on to note that the ostensible reason for the recall elections – supposed outrage over collective bargaining reforms – was notably absent from the campaigning itself, largely because it turns out that said reforms prevented teacher layoffs more or less everywhere they could be implemented.  Indeed, the most dramatic layoffs are occurring in areas where the teachers’ unions have existing contracts mandating the exclusive use of a Big Labor-health care insurer (the WEA Trust).  Despite the situation, the leaders of these unions have adamantly refused to renegotiate; better that hundreds of teachers be laid off than that the unions’ cozy crony capitalism be subject to market forces.  At any rate, the elections were a close-run thing; but thankfully things turned out all right in the end.  And, due to the loss of automatic dues collection, the unions and their progressive appendages will have considerably less money next year with which to try to buy or steal elections.

Thank God.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: To those reading the previous and objecting to my characterization of the Wisconsin situation: one of the traditional prerogatives of the winner of a conflict is the freedom from having to be overly solicitous of the tender sensibilities of the loser.  Particularly when it comes to things like describing the origins of the original conflict.  If progressives find this happy situation oppressive… well, to quote somebody or other: this is defeat looks like.  Avoid it.

*Wisconsin progressives at this point typically retort that current polls show that The People Are With Them. Just like The People Were With Them in the Prosser/Kloppenberg election, and the People Were With Them in the other four state Senate recall elections, and no doubt the People Will Be With Them next year in a second set of recall elections that nobody with a triple-digit IQ actually expects to work (assuming that they even happen), and so on, and so on…


  • BigGator5 says:

    And here I thought George Will was a progressive Republican. I guess a broken clock can be right twice.

    • Moe_Lane says:

      I think that he’s more of an pro-organization Republican… and the party organization WAS NOT PLEASED at the way that the Democrats broke the rules in Wisconsin.

  • Ric Locke says:

    Actually, Moe, it looks from here as if you’re missing a knock-on effect.

    Democrats must contest Wisconsin. The very notion that the home of Hubert Humphrey could pass to the control of the Other Side is simply anathema. Clearly that’s going to cost a lot of money — the effort to date has been enormously expensive for little effect, so more is needed.

    And Wisconsin Democrats can’t contribute much because dues checkoff isn’t there any more. Not only must the Dems pour more money into the State, they have to strip funds from elsewhere to do so. They’ll do their best to assess only “safe” districts for that purpose, but politicians in “safe” districts don’t collect much because they don’t need to, and as a result their surplus is about the same fraction as others’ and the total amount is less.

    Which is to say, it’s a sinkhole that will swallow up Democratic campaign funds. They might even fill it up — but it would mean importing truckloads needed to shore up the levees elsewhere. I expect this to have a small but measurable effect.


  • Trog says:

    Whoa, slow down there man. Hubert Humphrey was from Minnesota. Don’t you sit there and tell me you can’t tell the difference between Wisconsin and Minnesota.

    Unless you’re trying to make friends in Minnesota, I mean, because they’ll probably be okay with it.

  • Ric Locke says:

    Trog: You are, of course, correct. As penance, I shall go put brake pads on my car in 100° heat.


  • Mikey NTH says:

    Try Robert LaFollette and other icons of the early progressive movement, Ric. Like Minnesota, Wisconsin was one of the very early social progressive states and set the trend for that type of governance. That Wisconsin is moving away from it must be terrifying for progressives to think about.

  • Rob Crawford says:

    “Which is to say, it’s a sinkhole that will swallow up Democratic campaign funds.”
    The Sinoloa Cartel will forward them some cash. Possibly the Saudis, too.

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