Things aren’t going well for Scott Walker in Wisconsin – and I say that knowing that he may well get the legislation he seeks passed.Walker could have taken the unions’ concessions and declared victory, but since Ronald Reagan’s firing of all those PATCO controllers is what gets him going in the morning, compromise is not an option. Or it’s not manly. Or something.
Anyway, I don’t think it’s bad polls that are trouble for Walker, and, by extension, the Republican Party.
I think, like Katrina, an essential truth about the GOP is being revealed.
The GOP has an entire noise machine aimed at convincing people that they’ll keep government from taking their money, even though their only real economic platform aimed at the middle class is that they are part of the “everyone” whose taxes may never, ever increase. Mind you, that’s merely a side benefit to their main platform, which is that very rich people shouldn’t have to worry their pretty little heads about taxes. Or pesky safety/environmental regulations.
The other GOP specialty – wedge issues – doesn’t work here. Beating up on immigrants, or (until recently) gays worked for Republicans, because immigrants and gays are “others”, and most people – especially people who might vote Republican – didn’t encounter either on a day to day basis.
Most people do know teachers, and quite a few people really like them. And it’s not like teachers are driving 2011 Escalades around town on the megabucks they’re making.
Also – and I don’t know how to say this politely – a lot of them are, um, white.
The reason cops and firefighters are standing with teachers is they know that they’re next in line, and the reason private union members are showing up is that they know that their rights are next. See, for example, Ohio.
I think a lot of people who aren’t terribly ideological, but who aren’t flush with cash, are seeing the GOP a little more clearly right now. And that bell can’t be unrung. I don’t know if it will be as devastating to the entire GOP as it will be to Scott Walker. But just as Katrina lifted the veil off of the Bush presidency, Scott Walker has lifted the veil off today’s Republican party.
I think people may start to realize that the problems facing this country can’t be laid at the feet of teachers making $50,000 a year.
Two other thoughts. Or, more accurately, things I wish I’d said.
For decades I’ve been reading that the biggest problem facing the greatest nation in the world is that the poor and middle class just have it too damn good.
And then Doug at Balloon Juice, talking about New Jersey’s Chris Christie:
…it is stunning how much the media loves a governor who uses “plain talk” to fuck over the middle-class.
I’m not one to go overboard on the whole “if only people voted their economic interests, Democrats would run everything” argument. I’ve voted against mine many times – there’s no reason someone on the other side might have good reason to do so.
But if people think that’s how they’re voting, and they realize they’re wrong, then the GOP is in deep trouble.