Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Wisconsin Fallout

Most of the time in politics the two sides stalk around each other, avoiding risky actions that could backfire.

But occasionally they go for a win. In the two years of Democratic power in Washington 2009-2010 President Obama and the Democratic Congress marched boldly forward increasing the size of government and pushing towards their holy grail of complete government health care. We know what happened: the American people reacted with alarm and elected a Republican House of Representatives in the biggest switch in half a century.

Now we've seen Republicans, newly elected to a majority in Wisconsin, push union collective bargaining reforms to curb the power of public-sector unions in that state. Will that bold push provoke a similar backlash? Who knows?

What is shocking to me, as a conservative, is the astonishing double standard when liberals take to the streets. It's considered an outrage when conservative demonstrators put one foot wrong. But hey, when liberal demonstrators invade the Wisconsin state house that's just the people taking action against injustice, the rage of the workers against the mean-spirited actions of the bosses.

Of course, both sides in the political wars tend to outrage about the shenanigans of the other side, and overlook their own indiscretions. But my experience as a conservative is that you always have to be thinking about how you look to the uncommitted moderates in the middle. You get the feeling that the liberals in Madison, Wisconsin, just don't care about how they look to the moderates in the middle.

Perhaps liberals are just used to the old media rules in which the liberal MSM always condoned bad behavior on the left and always played up bad behavior on the right. It's the conceit of conservatives that the rules have changed and that liberals can't get away with stuff any more, because FoxNews and citizens with pocket video cameras can bring lefty outrages onto the national radar. The recent sting on NPR executives, timed just as Congress is considering its funding, suggests that the game has changed.

But nobody can tell how the political battles since 2008 will work out. Have Democrats pushed too far with ObamaCare? We won't know until after the 2012 elections. Will Republicans in Wisconsin get punished for curbing the power of government worker unions? We'll get an early look from the results of the recall campaigns that the Democrats are planning against Republican state senators.

My concern, expressed in "Radical Suits and Their Suckers," is that Democrats are playing their public-sector union supporters for suckers. In the end, government workers are going to be paying a lot more for their pensions and health care. After all the parades and demonstrations, the radical suits will head off to the next gig, and the government workers in Wisconsin will be stuck with fewer benefits.

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