Monday, 4 June 2012

Scummish Scott has powerful allies; workers don't

Wisconsinites will probably keep Governor Walker in office tomorrow thanks to an obscene flood of cash from rich people, but the poster boy of union-busting already has suffered a crippling defeat. No first-term officeholder wants to spend most of his time fighting off a credible recall challenge even if it fails. All that out-of-state money that looks likely to give him the edge has exposed him as a stalking horse for the national campaign to unravel what’s left of the New Deal. Walker is a pathetic hack, and even if he wins, he loses.

Some commentators have expressed dismay at the notoriously lackadaisical reaction of the national Democrats to tomorrow’s obvious curtain-raiser on the November elections, especially noting the miserly sums provided to their Wisconsin counterparts to fight Walker. But these innocents presume, on the basis of no evidence, that union-busting is somehow disturbing to the Obama party. It isn’t. In fact, since the passage of right-to-work laws in the 1950s, the Democratic machinery has barely managed to fight a credible rearguard action against the steady erosion of union membership and clout, notwithstanding the Dems’ expectations, usually fulfilled, that the remnants of the blue-collar workforce will faithfully trudge along behind whatever ambitious, Clintonoid, business-friendly suit that emerges from the neo-liberal thicket.

Union backers will grumble and curse if Walker squeezes out a win and remains in office, but they shouldn’t be disheartened. The independent and largely spontaneous outpouring of opposition to Walker’s assault on their livelihoods and citizenship was its own victory and prepared the way for the next battle--in stark contrast to the usual channeling of citizen energies into electing Democrats who promptly abandon them. Replacing the scummish Walker with a generic Democrat, while it would be a delicious moment, isn’t half as important as way Wisconsinites have exposed the lines of battle for all to see. The lame support from Obama is part of this illumination, and if a Walker come-back presages defeat for the Democrats later in the year, they will have only themselves to blame.

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