Posted: 07/24/15 23:58
by Dave Mindeman
There is this narrative that persists with Scott Walker. He has made a career of denigrating the trade unions. It has endeared him to the conservative base and gets the attention of the richest 1% who dislike the unions even more.
But Walker's crusade against unions has a deceptive tone to it. When he initially pushed his legislation that limited collective bargaining through a Republican dominated state legislature, he craftily managed to make side deals with government employee unions. The police and firefighters were exempted from the early legislation, neutralizing these more stable unions and dividing the trade unions out of the picture. Walker even received police and firefighter union endorsements for his 2014 election.
With the trade unions weakened and their ranks depleted, Walker turned on his "allies" and signed Right to Work legislation (legislation that he said he wasn't interested in when running for re-election) which gutted the public sector unions ability to keep its members as well.
His initial union busting led to the now famous protests in Madison. But he has used that as a badge of honor for getting a foothold in the GOP Presidential sweepstakes.
He's not afraid to make his union busting a centerpiece of his rhetoric...
"If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world."
A little too cute for reality, but a good applause line for the right audience.
His demonizing of unions gets more and more pointed....
He denounced the protests against his efforts to undo the unions as "thuggery." He described collective bargaining as a "corrupt system" and diagnosed union leaders as having a "sense of entitlement." After beating public-sector unions and surviving recall, Walker this year signed anti-union Right-to-Work legislation. He has said he doesn't think the minimum wage serves a purpose, and he has opposed prevailing-wage and living-wage requirements.
Walker has set himself apart as the champion of middle class destruction. Because that's what this dismantling of unions really is. A large part of the income gap can be traced to the decline of union participation. Because of Walker, public sector union participation, in Wisconsin, has dropped from 50 to 37%.
Nationwide unions aren't faring much better...
At a time of extreme weakness and vulnerability for the American labor movement, the public sector is a crucial bulwark. As of last year, just 6.6 percent of private employees were union members, as opposed 35.7 percent of government workers, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Walker has gambled that the country is ready for unions to go away. That the 1% which bankroll Walker, will support him to complete the union collapse and end the annoyance of collective bargaining once and for all.
But Walker may be overestimating the national appeal for all of this. As Wisconsin continues to deflate economically, the narrative may change. The middle class in Wisconsin may be willing to take one last stand. And unions may be cornered into a full boar fight for survival.
Also, Walker has too much baggage to carry into a national campaign. The scrutiny of the national press won't miss the "John Doe" investigation, the stacking of the Supreme Court, the voter suppression tactics, the removal of the independent election commission, and his reward of donors via his economic development agency, which is only beginning to come to light.
And beyond all of that, Walker's Wisconsin policies stand in very stark contrast to his western neighbor, Dayton's Minnesota. The two governors were elected at about the same time, but took opposite economic paths. While Walker cut taxes, Dayton raised taxes on the rich. While Walker went after unions, Dayton rejected attacks on unions. While Walker's state has moved to the bottom rankings on economics, Dayton's Minnesota has been a shining light for economic growth. While Walker runs a deficit, Dayton can boast of a large surplus.
The facts are against Walker. His rhetoric is a lie.
Scott Walker may have some success in a party process that allows a Donald Trump to dominate the field. But if he were to actually be the nominee, the trailing baggage he brings to the table would be his undoing.
You can only get away with deception for so long. The truth will always eventually rise to the top.