Wisconsin: Labor's Love Lost
Any way you slice it, the refusal of
On an issue that goes to the core of the American labor movement's ability to deliver for the party as its key constituency, big corporate and individual fat-cat money overwhelmed the traditional union muscle of political boots on the ground. Walker, with a seven-to-one advantage in advertising spending, snowed under labor's door-to-door campaigning.
"Look for the union label" used to be a rallying cry for organized labor to mobilize public support. It not only encouraged the purchase of goods manufactured by its union men and women but also turned out foot soldiers, particularly in the nation's urban neighborhoods. But in
For a movement that in the heyday of the New Deal boasted having signed up about a third of the nation's workforce, union membership has now fallen to a paltry 7 percent. A heavy majority of what still exits is in the public sector, Walker's specific target in
The near-collapse of major manufacturing in the American economy has been an obvious factor. Only the automobile industry has sharply rebounded, thanks to a significant hand from Uncle Sam in the Great Recession bailouts so vehemently opposed by most Republican politicians.
Nevertheless, organized labor itself, often subject to hostile accusations of corruption and excessive political action, has suffered an increasingly negative public perception, fed to be sure by its Republican opponents. Regarded in the distant 1930s as the heroic defender of a struggling middle class against the malefactors of great wealth and heavy-handed union busting, the institution has become an easy whipping-boy in many parts of the country.
When Walker first announced his war on public-sector bargaining rights, the huge and vocal protest that blanketed the state capitol in
However, once the anti-union big money started flooding into Walker's campaign, fueled by heavy contributions from wealthy political players like
Although President Obama, with characteristic caution, pretty much stayed on the sidelines in the fight, the anti-recall forces did not hesitate to link him to the defense of public-sector rights. One late ad proclaimed: "Labor union mobs led by
In any event, Walker's success clearly was a bloody nose to the Obama campaign, and the best that could be said of it is that it was a wake-up call to organized labor to be more effective in capitalizing on this frontal assault on the core of its being. Yet exit polls in
As the Republicans continue to accuse the Democrats of encouraging "class warfare" by demanding an end to big tax breaks for the rich, the middle-class argument over income inequality highlighted in the
Read the latest political news.
- Justices Uphold Individual Mandate, Set Limits On Medicaid Expansion
- Court's Dissenters Argue That 'Entire Statute Is Inoperative'
- Health Law Decision A 'Victory For People All Over This Country'
- Justice Roberts Says Law's Offer to States on Medicaid 'Is A Gun to the Head'
- Romney: Health Law Bad Policy, No Matter SCOTUS Decision
- The Tea Party Shtick
- How Wall Street is Trying to Avoid Oversight
- The Robin Hood Tax
- Growing Independence from Both Parties
- Are the Democrats Doomed?
- Mitt Romney: Running for Magician-in-Chief
- Mitt Romney is Dangerously Naive on Foreign Policy
- Is Marco Rubio the Hope of the GOP?
- Progressive Morality
- Running Against a Ghost
- Candidates Must Steer Clear of Political Potholes
- Obama Shows that Political Gaffes are a Game Two Can Play
- Candidates Woo Skeptical, and Possibly Decisive, Latino Bloc
- From Hope and Change to Fear and Smear
- Obama's DREAM Gambit
- The Limits of Compassion in Politics
- All Hail Emperor Obama
- Drone Warfare Foretells an Ever-Expanding and Illegal War
- Sending in the Drones
- Realists Play Video Games
- Women Candidates Need to Fight Back Against Innuendo
- Obama's Truthiness
- Wisconsin Wakeup Call
- Hard Times, Weak Unions
- Wisconsin Vote Dashes Union Hopes, An Entire Movement's Gains
- Wisconsin: Labor's Love Lost
- Liberal Nostalgia for The Good Old Days of Conservatism
- The Big Lie Coup D'etat
- Super PAC Era Links Back to Early James Burnham
- Recalling the Gilded Age
- A Fair Shot
- Low-Wage Nation
- Supreme Doubts
- Obama's 'Fine' Mess
- Making the World Safer for the Next Bernie Madoff
- 'Compromise' is Not a Dirty Word
- Googling Anti-Obama Racism
- Who are You Calling 'Extreme'?
- Is the Worm Turning?
- Searching for a Surrogate
- The Essentiality of Journalism
- Our Press Freedom is Under Fire
- Of Bedrooms and Boardrooms
- Budget Cut Blues: America Needs More Informed Citizenry
- Pentagon Spending Spree
- Why the 'Pro-Growth Centrists' are Wrong
- Social Security's Dual-Income Trap
Wisconsin: Labor's Love Lost | Politics
Copyright © 2012 Tribune Media Services