Walker and the End of the Beginning

WI Gov. Scott Walker shows greater leadership than Ronald Reagan.

This week's great victory of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker over the leftist forces of unionized theft and corruption is, predictably, being bemoaned by the media as a devastatingly bad sign for President Obama's reelection chances this fall.  The people of a center-left state with a long and storied union history rejected the demands of public-sector unions and turned out in droves to support the governor who stripped unions of enforced dues and corrupt monopoly contracts.  Although this is being blamed on massive Republican spending, a more telling gauge of Wisconsin union popularity is the fact that more than half of public-sector unionized workers quit paying dues the moment Walker's law allowed them to do that and keep their jobs.

Yes, Walker's victory is a grave warning to President Obama and a knife to the heart of the Democratic party.  But it is far, far more important than that.

The Thrill of Victory

In early 2010, we published an article "Winning: Not The Same Thing as Not Losing" in which, amid the general rejoicing over Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts, we pointed out some deeply unpleasant facts:

Conservatism has won no permanent offensive victories in near ninety years, not since Calvin Coolidge's "Return to Normalcy" after the near-fascistic wartime administration of Woodrow Wilson... What territory has conservatism ever reconquered from occupying liberals?  Has there ever - ever - been a government entitlement program or intrusive bureaucracy that Republicans have succeeded in destroying?

The answer, of course, was "no."  No, the Departments of Education, Energy, HUD, NLRB, EPA still exist despite decades of Republican fulmination.  No, despite "welfare reform" we're spending more on welfare programs than we ever have.  No, public-sector unionization still provides a corrupt flood of taxpayer dollars to the Democrat party under force of law.  The great "conservative victories" of Reagan, Gingrich, and so on were nothing more than temporary defensive actions: preventing something bad from happening, but not taking back lost ground.  Once a leftist, statist big-government tyrannical law or program was put in place, nothing ever, ever could get rid of it.

Until today.

Aside from the unique issue of abortion, so far as we are aware, Scott Walker's gutting of Wisconsin's public-sector unions represents the very first actual, substantive, conservative offensive victory in nearly one hundred years.

How We Got Here

At one time, Wisconsin workers had the right to choose to work for their state without being forced, by law, to contribute part of their pay to "unions" that they had no liberty to not join and which used their money for political purposes without regard to the desires of the workers paying the bills.  In 1959, Wisconsin's clearly-foresightful Democrat Governor Gaylord Nelson institutionalized this corruption, and ever since the money has flowed - from taxpayers, to workers, to union bosses, to Democratic politicians who fleece the taxpayers and featherbed yet more government employees into an overloaded budget and onto the backs of overwhelmed Wisconsin taxpayers.  Through governors Republican and Democrat, the money flow never stopped and the growth of government proceeded unimpaired.

Until Scott Walker realized that snipping a few leaves off the tree of leftism was a waste of time and grabbed a chainsaw to strike at the roots.  The determination he showed against mob thuggery, death threats, corrupt obstructionism, voting fraud, and all manner of un-American chicanery should be the stuff of political case studies for decades to come - and it worked.

Scott Walker eliminated a multibilliondollar deficit without raising taxes or cutting essential services.  In fact, his reforms are saving money even for local jurisdictions:

In early August, noticing the trend, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Milwaukee would save more in health-care and pension costs than it would lose in state aid, leaving the city $11 million ahead in 2012—despite Mayor Tom Barrett’s prediction in March that Walker’s budget “makes our structural deficit explode.”

The collective-bargaining component of Walker’s plan has yielded especially large financial dividends for school districts. Before the reform, many districts’ annual union contracts required them to buy health insurance from WEA Trust, a nonprofit affiliated with the state’s largest teachers’ union. Once the reform limited collective bargaining to wage negotiations, districts could eliminate that requirement from their contracts and start bidding for health care on the open market. When the Appleton School District put its health-insurance contract up for bid, for instance, WEA Trust suddenly lowered its rates and promised to match any competitor’s price. Appleton will save $3 million during the current school year.

The millions of dollars wasted over the years on union-monopoly health care did not benefit the taxpayers one iota.  It did not benefit the workers, either; the WEA trust benefits were no better than care from Blue Cross or anybody else.  It was nothing more than a corrupt subsidy to the Democrat party.  Gov. Walker has rightfully returned that money to the taxpayers of Wisconsin who can now spend it on useful things like more teachers.

Audacity, Audacity, Always Audacity

Scott Walker prevailed against a united opposition of Democrats, public-sector unions, the local and national media, and a heavy dose of fraud and crime.  The lesson of his victory is that small steps don't work - only giant leaps can overwhelm the opposition.

Imagine if Gov. Walker had followed the usual route of Republican governors - trying to trim a little around the edges.  The media, unions and Democrats would have said exactly the same slanders, accusing him of throwing Granny off a cliff, Little Orphan Annie out into the cold, and black kids back into slavery, as they always do.  Gov. Walker would have pointed to the numbers, immediately causing ordinary folks' eyes to glaze over.  Any trifling savings would have been overwhelmed by propaganda.

Instead, he caused the left to fight for its very political life, by saving such a staggeringly enormous pile of taxpayer money that no amount of propaganda could hide it.  The taxpayers know the Left's accusations are a lie because their local teachers are still there and their own tax bills did not go up.  The evidence isn't abstract or buried in a spreadsheet, it's right in front of them in their checkbooks and at their kids' schools.

As with so many things, Ronald Reagan foresaw this truth in his famous call for Republicans to offer "No pale pastels, but bold colors" of contrast between themselves and Democrats.  Even he, though, wasn't able to put that principle into practice to the degree that Scott Walker has - and thus we see that when it comes to financial stability and trimming the cost of government, Scott Walker has been far more successful than the Gipper.

Let's say that again: when it comes to the nickels and dimes of actually running and paying for government, as well as the lifetime-long conservative goal of cutting the cost and reach of government, Gov. Scott Walker has been a greater leader than Ronald Reagan.

Some while back, we asked when we would see a politician able to don the mantle of Reagan and take the case for conservatism to the American people.  Gov. Walker doesn't seem to be the Great Communicator, which is a shame, but he's something even better: He is the Great Doer.  He has given conservatism a victory of a type that, in all seriousness and sobriety, we have not seen in almost a century.  It is quite literally one for the history books.

Now we need to make sure it doesn't stay one victory for the books.  There is such a thing as political momentum, and for the first time in living memory, small-government conservatism has it.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments

Very true. That never occurred to me, but you're right - this is the first major Republican *offensive* victory in a very long time. We usually have difficulty even pulling off defensive victories.

It also strikes me that you're right about Walker's positioning. He saw that it was all or nothing. The only way to get rid of stuff like this - unions, EPA, etc - are to point out that the entire problem, yank the curtain down and go all in.

Very profound.

June 8, 2012 9:51 AM

All true and couldn't agree more, however why is all print and broadcast
media.....even SCAGGED...saying Scott Walker did this.

THE PEOPLE OF WISCONSIN DID THIS......TWICE. Elected him and elected him
again. Who are the Democrate representing? The people have spoken, listen up and do something for them, or are you too busy trying to keep too much for yourselve. I know a useless argument but lets keep
hammering away.

June 8, 2012 2:42 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...