First, some encouraging signs brought to us by Byron York.
[Wisconsin Governor] Walker has stood firm in the fight, but the truth is a lot of Republicans were nervous last week when crowds of protesters showed up and Democrats headed for the hills. What if the public supported the unions? After going home to their districts over the weekend, Republicans are feeling better. Many heard from constituents telling them to hang tough, and voters were especially unhappy with Democrats for hightailing it out of state. “We think public opinion is with us on the budget issue, and we’re sure public opinion is with us on the Democrats’ not showing up for work and doing their job,” says Mark Jefferson, executive director of the state Republican Party.
In fact, for many Republican supporters, the big question is not whether the fight is worth the trouble but whether there’s some way the GOP can steamroll over the Democrats. But that’s not going to happen, at least for now. Republicans believe they are going to win without using extraordinary measures.
Is it time to let up yet? No, but I think this is a very good sign.
First, this is not–as I erroneously hinted in an older post–just some minor statehouse squall. By running out of the government, the Donks turned what might’ve been just a run-of-the-mill budget fight into a contest of wills. When Obama unleashed his Organizing For America flunkies to meddle in Wisconsin’s business, that pissing contest supernova’ed into epic showdown status. When something in the states goes mega-national like this, the stakes almost automatically get raised to the rafters; Wisconsin 2011 is no different.
I think everyone on the Right who was paying attention to this feared the Wisconsin GOP or Governor Walker buckling under the pressure. York’s piece gives conservatives hope that the good guys can win this fight. It’s also nice–and a pleasant surprise to boot–to see Wisconsin voters following through on the 2010 midterm elections by continuing to back up their representatives. They could’ve easily listened to the MSM narrative and gotten wobbly, but so far that hasn’t been the case.
As far as the Left goes, they haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory with this fiasco. Fleeing from a vote, hiding in another state, fake doctor’s notes, rampant whining, union shenanigans, anti-democratic overtones, moral equivalence; much of the modern progressive movement’s pathologies have been laid bare by this political battle.
But something else about liberalism has been revealed in Wisconsin. Roger Simon calls it…reactionary.
I admit I have been using the term “reactionary” for a while when referring to contemporary liberals. This has been quite intentional, something of a deliberate hoisting by their own petard. In my old days on the left, we would brand everyone we didn’t like as a reactionary, mired in the then supposedly-evil capitalist system. And I would like to use the events in Wisconsin to explain why I do it to them now. (Yes, it is partly to get their goat, but it is also to make a point.)
…So why has our left become so reactionary, so unwilling or unable to adapt to a changed world that they “act out” with all the juvenility of adolescents deprived of the family car keys? Some say it is because they have replaced religious faith with politics and I, an agnostic, see some truth in that. But there is more. Liberalism has become a mask for greed in our culture — a way of hiding excessive selfishness from others and, importantly, from the self. It’s a deflection, really.
There’s a lot to like in that article, so read the rest. Simon’s analysis is pretty much spot on, but I think he misses something. The question here is why has the Left become so reactionary, so reluctant to change.
Look at the public sector unions, a key component of the American progressive movement. They’ve pretty much become the establishment in many facets of government. For them, the current order of things isn’t too shabby.
It’s one thing to advocate for change when you’re on the outside looking in. When you’ve become the epitome of ‘business as usual’, you generally don’t want to rock the boat all that much. In fact, anything that jostles your position is likely seen as a dire threat to your existence, even if the jostling in question is relatively minor.
The Tom Hayden/Abbie Hoffman/Bill Ayers Axis of Poor Hygiene and their spiritual descendents have taken over major chunks of the federal government, as well as large portions of many states’ governments. As part of the governmental machine, progressives have set up a very cushy relationship with taxpayer money that they can readily exploit. Systemic unsustainability, responsibility to voters or just a simple sense of fairness are not enough to convince the Left to forgo their gravy train.
The system we have now, where government workers’ unions make psychotic demands and governments readily acquiesce, has reached the point that we have, in the words of Margaret Thatcher, run out of other peoples’ money. The reactionary forces on the Left will not help tear down the quasi-pyramid scheme they’ve erected. There is simply too much for them to gain from the current racket.
No, the real agents of change in America–principled conservatives, libertarians and Tea Party acttivists–will have to do it all by themselves.
UPDATE: Welcome, welcome The Other McCain readers! Glad you could stop by. You can go ahead and move about the blog freely.
I thought my Chris Rock slammage was underappreciated. Maybe ya’all will find that fun? I dunno.
In any case, big thanks to RS McCain for putting me up in his Headlines sidebar thing. I appreciate it very much, sir.