For the last eight months, Wisconsin has been a constant political battleground as the labor unions struggle to defend one of their last great bastions of power.
Despite a preponderance of resources, Big Labor continues to suffer narrow defeats. Individually, these have not been decisive but the cumulative effect is devastating.
The first round was the series of demonstrations and the “sick-out” in Madison right after Gov. Scott Walker proposed rolling back the union control of state government. While the 14 Democrat state Senators managed to halt the legislation for a while, it ultimately was passed into law. The street theater failed to cow the GOP or the governor.
In March, the Dems launched a two-pronged attack at the reform. The first move was to find a friendly district judge to nullify the anti-union bill before it could even become law – an unprecedented exercise in judicial activism devoid of legal merit. The second was to attempt to “flip” one of the narrowly divided state Supreme Court seats in an otherwise unremarkable bye election.
Instead of a low-turnout procedural affair, the Prosser/Kloppenburg contest became a massive struggle, drawing in millions of dollars. The Dems used every trick in the book, including the cries of electoral fraud and an extended recount. In the end, Prosser triumphed. Shortly thereafter, the Supreme Court struck down the district court ruling and the new law took effect.
The third Democrat effort has now come to pass: recall elections against six Republican state Senators. Here again the energy expended was simply off the charts – this was no grass-roots campaign fueled by a localize scandal or a bad vote. Money poured into the state from across the country. To win, the Democrats needed to flip three of the six seats. They got two – one of which was held by a critically damaged incumbent whose personal life was a total mess.
What is remarkable is not the Democrat success – narrowing a majority helps – but the low results for the resources expended.
Each lunge from the Big Labor army drives deep into GOP territory and consumes Republican resources that otherwise would go to consolidating their power. On the other hand, the Dems are expending far more of their own money and while it is impressive to come within 5,000 votes of beating an incumbent judicial candidate (they almost always win reelection), it is not enough.
It is a situation reminiscent of the Kaiserschlacht - Germany Army’s 1918 spring offensive. With American troops on the way, the German high command knew that unless they could win the war quickly, the growing weight of the Allied forces would be too much.
The result was a series of hammer-blows to the Allied lines which produced broke the three-year deadlock that had existed since 1914. Rather than one attack, the Germans launched a series of assaults. Each strike drove the French and British backwards, but also left the Germans progressively weaker.
They almost reached Paris, but that was as far as they could go. The German Army was spent.
The Allies – rested and reinforced with hundreds of thousands of ardent Doughboys – now launched their own assault, and the Germans crumpled before it.
This is the fate the Democrats face. With each legislative defeat, they lose access to public sector employee dues and the power that flows from it. Each fundraising drive diminishes the resources they might have used in the 2012 election and each defeat convinces their supporters that their cause is just a little more lost.
The unions are growing desperate, and their anger is showing – and further alienating the voting public. Here in Michigan, a police union leader has circulated an email boasting of using illegal brutality to get their way:
"We intend to walk into Lansing after the summer break and ask the Republicans who have been so eagerly screwing us, 'who's next?' If we cannot earn their respect we will do what we have always done; hit it with a flashlight until we gain compliance."
What they have “always done?” This is the standard of professionalism in our peace officers?
Next week the Wisconsin Democrats will have to defend two Senate seats of their own. One wonders whether they have anything left. Once you’ve thrown the kitchen sink, what else is there?