Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wisconsin's middle-class still needs saving

The movement that sought unsuccessfully to oust Scott Walker from Wisconsin’s governorship must by no means disband. Rather, it must dig in for the long haul.

The fight always centered on the plight of Wisconsin’s middle class – a plight Walker’s victory Tuesday keeps in jeopardy.

This is no time to sulk. Ousting Walker from office was a long shot anyway. Besides, in the one bright spot,  the Democrats did seize control of the state Senate – which should keep Walker from ramrodding more of his right-wing agenda through the Legislature. The movement deserves praise for getting as far as it did. Now, it must keep fighting this good fight.
Illustration by Resizia
The middle-class has gotten weaker in large part because unions have gotten weaker. Private-sector unions were the first to bite the dust. Thus, public-sector unions long carried the torch for the working person. But Walker fixed that. He eviscerated public-sector unions in Wisconsin, in line with the Republican tendency to tilt power away from working people and toward rich corporations.

I myself have been a critic of public-sector unions, particularly for teachers and police officers. But, in contrast to Walker, I believe in their right to exist. In fact, the role they play in society is vital.

During the campaign Walker intimated that he would make nice to the other side – a meaningless promise unless he intends to restore to the unions the right to collectively bargain. Which, of course, he does not do.

Walker is pursuing policies that would hasten the growth of income inequality in Wisconsin and the decline of the middle-class. His opposition can’t just give in. Rather, it must work out a long-term strategy for winning.

True, in smashing the unions, Walker is decimating the source of large amounts of Democratic funds, leaving Republican corporate campaign money with no rival. So keeping up the fight for the middle class will become tougher. But that fight must nonetheless be waged.

This post was revised later on June 6 to reflect the Democratic takeover of the Wisconsin Senate – which had not been clear at the time this article was originally written.

1 comment:

  1. The fight must continue. We cannot let the integrity of such forward political thinkers and doers such as Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl fade into history and have WI revert to a playpen for the uber-wealthy who care nothing about basic humanity.