Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tough Love for Democrats

After months of the most frantic paddling imaginable, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is still barely above water – and almost as far behind as when the race began.

Some will behold a glass half full; a shift in tide; victory in failure to win control of the Senate.  Others will cry “Foul!”; rant about obscene campaign spending; call upon all good Democrats to fight harder and spend more next time.

None of it will do any good.  As it turns out, a voting majority of Badgers in the recall districts want more of what they got last November – surprises and all.  There is little reason to think this isn’t the case for the state as a whole.
When your boat is up to the gunwales, what’s needed is simple…but not easy.  You take a long, hard look at all your cargo – and then you jettison some of it.  Enough so that a Dale Schultz, say, will jump off his boat, climb on yours, and grab an oar.  If you can win him, you have a fighting chance of winning a few other Republican rowers – maybe enough to pull ahead in the next heat.

Rumor has it the floggings over there have been bad; that the captain and his twin chief mates broach no discord and show no mercy.  Surely you can make room for a few decent fellows who still have some pride left, not to mention the will to pull for something they can believe in.
Ah, but what to jettison?  How about a sacred cow?  Or rather, a cruel pretense: that educators and civil servants have demonstrated anything remotely resembling Solidarity with private-sector blue-collar workers during the past thirty years.  Decade after decade, manufacturer after manufacturer replaced machines that did the work of five men with machines that did the work of twenty – and then a hundred.  Decade after decade, factory after factory moved production to the far East – or went bankrupt trying to compete.  And in more recent years, knowledge-workers made of silicon steadily replaced knowledge-workers made of meat.

Where were the teachers and firemen and snow-plow drivers when all this was happening?  Loading up on those low prices at WalMart.  Smelling skies that were no longer besmirched by foundry exhaust.  Basking in benefit packages that are a distant memory for the working classes who must compete against the Second- and Third-world.  And now public-sector labor expects the guy who lost his job at the paper mill ten years ago to feel sorry for them?
But one cow overboard won’t be enough.  Remember those hot-button “wedge” issues?  Hint: for a wedge to work there must be pressure on both sides.  Stop pushing on one side, and Zingo! the wedge goes away.  Non-negotiable, you say?  Unfortunately, reality has a way of negotiating with people who are “right” about everything.  Last time I checked, Democrats in the Assembly and Senate and Governor’s office weren’t accomplishing diddly-squat for the people of Wisconsin. 

I, for one, want that to Change.

This editorial appeared in abbreviated form in the August 26, 2011 The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin) and in full in the August 25, 2011 Oregon Observer (Oregon, Wisconsin)

The Cap Times (Madison, WI)

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