Friday, April 8, 2011

Lessons from Wisconsin

Wisconsin has been ground zero on government spending reform. Governors across America are facing escalating costs that they must either cut or pass on to the taxpayers in the form of tax increases.

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker refused to increase the burdens on taxpayers. He proposed a budget repair bill that saved hundreds of millions of dollars for the taxpayers over the next two years. To do this, Walker proposed:

  • Requiring state and local government workers to pay increased monies (about 8% of their take home pay) toward their healthcare costs and pensions
  • Require a voter referendum to increase government employee wages above the rate of inflation
  • Require that government worker unions have yearly elections to recertify that their members still want to belong to a union

None of these changes to collective bargaining rules applied to police or fire as Walker was afraid it could disrupt public safety.

Union and Democratic leaders went nuts.

Realizing they could not win the day, 14 Democratic Senators, dubbed “Fleebaggers,” left the state to deny a quorum of the Senate. Without the quorum, they could not adopt the bill. All of this was for naught since there were procedural remedies to these Democrats failing to do their taxpayer-funded jobs.

The budget passed.

The Unions and Democrats decided to start a counter-offensive. Their target was Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser. Their two-pronged attack in defeating Prosser would both put a sympathetic judge on the state supreme court that could conceivably overturn the budget repair bill and simultaneously repudiate Governor Walker and the Tea Party.

All the stops were pulled out. Wisconsin’s unions focused with all the intensity they could muster on this one race. They defined Prosser as a carbon copy of Walker. Their slogan was literally “Prosser=Walker.” They even launched a website tying the two together.

During the campaign, they attacked Prosser relentlessly. Each attack was escalated by another. There was a pile on by other left wing radical groups. The Left was able to transform this small state election into a national referendum on their cause.

Additionally, Wisconsin is a blue state. President Obama won Wisconsin with 56% of the vote. Your average Wisconsin voter must support left wing ideals right? Surely they would soar to victory with all of this effort, all of this money, and all of the left wing groups coalescing together to impact a race in a blue state.

The result? Failure.

Despite early returns that showed a win for the Left (and their premature jubilation), Prosser pulled it out. He now leads with an approximate 7,500 margin.

So what happened?

The Left poured every resource available to them into this one race. They mobilized all of their supporters. They railed against the right wing radicals trying to take away what was theirs. They spent countless dollars painting Prosser as a shill of the Tea Party and Governor Walker.

What happened, quite simply, is the left was successful.

The Left was successful in talking about the Walker budget and educating the voters on it. The Left was successful in painting Prosser as a person that shared the same values as Walker. The Left was successful in laying bare their real message and real agenda to the voters of Wisconsin.

The voters of Wisconsin rejected it.

Given the same education, the American people will reject it as well.

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