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Losing by Winning

Amongst all the Wisconsin shit that makes Your Humble Blogger's explode is this: if Governor Walker wins this battle, ten years from now the only thing that will have changed is that state workers will be making less money and have fewer protections. There will still be budget battles, and I rather suspect that politicians of the Other Party will still blame the public's employees and other members of the working class, while continuing to propose breaks for corporations and the wealthy. By the way, if y'all haven't been following this, the budget crisis in Wisconsin is largely phoney, which ain't a surprise, is it? Nor is it a surprise that, to the extent it exists, it is an artifact of the Other Party, which has a decades-long track record of fiscal irresponsibility at the national level.

But my point. Because I had one. If Governor Walker wins, and it becomes difficult-to-impossible for public workers to organize, he won't pay the cost. Nobody (other than people who have been labor supporters all along) will blame him if there's another teacher shortage in ten years, or it turns out that the newly-privatized service doesn't actually dispatch emergency vehicles to where they are needed, or various records are missing or stolen by temporary clerks working for minimum-without-benefits, or any of the other entirely predictable things. These will be presented as unpredictable aberrations, and will be used by local radio hosts to argue about how awful the gummint is.

On the other hand, if Governor Walker loses, and the workers retain the right to bargain collectively, then in ten years, or twenty, or thirty, every time the budget gets tight for any reason at all, more than half of the state will believe it's because Governor Walker was thwarted in his attempt to rein in the lazy, corrupt, selfish unions. Seriously. If some Comptroller embezzles twenty million and gets away to Brazil with it, a year later the budget crisis will be because Governor Walker didn't break the unions. If climate change causes Lake Superior to vomit up super-monsters, and then they battle the radiation monsters from Indiana in the streets of Wausau, wiping out the entire state's economy when it turns out that Liberty Mutual wasn't insured against monsters, legislators will say that if we had just listed to Governor Walker, we would have plenty of money for rebuilding. And people will believe it.

Look, I hope that I'm proved wrong. I mean, obviously, I hope that because I hope that Governor Walker and his Party will lose, and that the workers will retain their rights. I hope that they are celebrated for that victory throughout the generations, and that on Labor Day every year, everybody in Wisconsin comes together at the great picnic, where Governor Walker himself (and eventually his children and his children's children) goodnaturedly joke about their past wrongheadedness from the dunktank. I'm just saying. The political deck isn't stacked that way.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Well, the thing is, if Governor Walker (a fully owned tool of the Koch brothers) loses, then the unions win and the Dem minority in the legislature wins, and they and a lot of other people will know they have won, and that Democrats and unions don't have to roll over when "Decider-style" high-handed Republican executives take a "my way or the highway" approach to "governing"--that is, destroying government by the people and for the people so that power-mad billionaires and other social parasites can plunder the common wealth.

We can take it as a given that, until the Republicans find that their tactics no longer work, they are going to lie shamelessly and blame organized labor for everything. Thus, there is little use in repining over the fact that they are going to lie and blame unions. That's what Republicans do, because they can't be honest with the electorate about what has happened until they have re-shaped the electorate to exclude women, minorities, and poor people or until they change their actual practice of governing.

So, if the Unions and the Dems win, celebrate it for the win that it is, because it teaches the unions and the Dems about winning, and then prepare to call bullshit on the Republican lies for the rest of our lifetimes or until the Republican party devours itself or until we reform our public discourse so that the mass media is not largely owned by power-mad billionaires and other social parasites, making it a little easier to get the word out about what's going on.

The fact that the Democrats in the Indiana legislature walked out today when the Republican majority brought "right-to-work" legislation to the floor shows that there are other constituencies watching what is happening in Wisconsin, and the lesson that they are drawing is not "blame the unions" . . .

I oughtn't to have sounded so defeatist—clearly, it would be a Good Thing for labor to win this one, not only for its members (and the non-union workers of Wisconsin, who will see their own working conditions devolve if the unions are busted) but for workers in other states, who will see that wins are possible. And, frankly, it just feels good to see labor not laying down. So I ought to have celebrated that.

Still, even I know though there is little use in repining over the fact that Republicans will lie and blame unions, I continue to uselessly repine. In between celebrating. Just because.


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