Scott Walker has become a household name in the last 2 weeks after submitting his budget repair bill, seeking to close a $160 + million shortfall in the Wisconsin state budget.
Many people are still waiting to see who comes out the victor in this fight over power, control and of course the money associated with government. Unions, specifically public sector unions, have for decades controlled the reins of power in state and local government, and have used that control to fatten their wallets and perpetuate their power.
I have the come to the conclusion that Walker not only will win, he won before he ever said a word or introduced a bill. The unions and their Democrat servants in the legislature are fighting an absolute lost cause, and the more they struggle, the more stinging the defeat will be.
Politics is like war without guns and blood. It’s all about strategy and tactics. Those that understand how to use strategy can assure victory and avoid defeat with almost perfect precision. The US military has for years taught the precepts of Sun Tzu, understanding that he laid out the blueprint for victory through strategy.
It seems that Scott Walker has also paid very close attention to Sun Tzu and has deftly and astutely applied his teachings in just his first few months in office. To be more specific:
If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought.
In plain english, Walker understood his enemy and their tendencies. He knows their strengths, and their weaknesses. He devised a perfect strategy, taking all these factors into account, and assured victory “before the battle is fought”.
The unions and their Democrat allies were defeated before they knew what was happening.
Walker’s strategy understood that the voters would fully support public employees making contributions to their benefits, and that the unions would reflexively fight that provision. He also knew that the public would care little about changes in the collective bargaining agreements, and would focus on the financial aspects of the bill.
The unions dutifully played right along, and were true to their nature. Their response was to immediately respond to the financial provisions, and focused all their attention on that item. By the time they figured out that this was a losing argument it was too late to shift gears.
They tried, in vain, to reverse course and concede to the Governor’s requests and focus on the collective bargaining changes. This actually made matters far worse for them, and strengthened Walker’s position, making the unions look at least a bit dishonest in the process and handing Walker another arrow in the quiver. The public is almost entirely non-union and cares little about such “rights”, and remains focused on the financial aspects of this battle.
To make matters worse for the unions, Walker presumed rightly that the teachers’ union would come out in force to protest, conduct “sick outs” and generally make silly fools of themselves. The unions believed, incorrectly, that the public would join them en masse and Walker would be forced to back down.
Instead, parents were placed in hardship positions in closed districts, and the “its all about the kids” myth was fully exposed as a fraud. The teachers looked greedy and selfish, and almost indifferent to the kids. As time passed and they became more desperate, they gave themselves a series of self inflicted wounds. Phony sick notes, national labor leaders with little public credibility and now threats to those that oppose them all just served to further erode their credibility in the minds of voters.
The Democrats in the state senate, the Fugitive 14 as they are now called, ran out of the state to give the unions and protesters time to apply pressure. In so doing, they accomplished nothing of value for their side, and look childish and foolish for their efforts. Any time they gave to the unions to protest only allowed the unions to destroy themselves.
Now the Fugitive 14 are in a no-win position. If they return, they lose, and if they stay away, they still lose. If they cave and return they sacrifice the support of the unions forever, and still lose the vote. If they stay away, they lose any ability to engage in the debate on this topic, and worse yet for them allow the GOP to pass a series of bills with no Democrat input at all, further eroding their power base.
Even if the unions and Democrats had not done any of these things, and quietly put up token resistance to the bill but did not protest or act out, they would have lost just the same. It would have been a quiet and dignified political death, but a political death just the same.
There was, and is, nothing they could have done to prevent Walker from his victory. The only option they had was to limit their losses, but they could not resist the urge to do what they have always done, and what used to work for them. Obama already sees this, and is backpedaling as fast as his feet will carry him.
Walker should be seen as the political genius he is for using such a bold, but well considered and thought out strategy. He allowed his enemy to defeat itself. As long as Walker remains true to his strategy, he cannot lose. His calm in the face of protests is a simple result of knowing that he has already won.
In the long term this victory is bigger than a simple $160 million. It spells doom for Democrats in WI, and nationwide. Democrats can expect to see this strategy employed again and again in state after state, with defeat all but assured each time. When the dust finally settles, the public sector unions will have had its membership leave in droves voluntarily, losing money and manpower that can no longer benefit their chosen Democrat candidates.
Wherever these unions had become accustomed to running roughshod over the electorate, be it school board elections or presidential ones, they will now see defeats and frustration. The cycle will continue until the public sector has union membership rates similar to the private sector, and they are virtually impotent.
Soon after Democrats will be forced to abandon them in favor of other more powerful interests that are able to raise the funds they need to survive, and the entire debate will be reshaped.
Wisconsin was the birthplace of public sector unions and progressivism, and Wisconsin is where they have come to die.