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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Winning the battle but losing the war

Pundits and Tea Party leaf readers may very well look back at March 10, 2011 as the day the tide shifted in the demonize government movement.

The partisan decision to strip Wisconsin workers of their collective bargaining rights -- on top of already agreed upon benefit cuts -- revealed the true agenda of the Rabid Right that has seized control of the agenda after the Great Recession caused by the excesses of the Wall Street class.

By striking out at the folks on the other end of the political spectrum -- teachers and public employees in left-leaning unions -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker revealed the men behind the curtain and the real agenda of the Tea Party movement, bankrolled by the billionaire Koch brothers.

For a moribund labor movement, the Wisconsin vote is like CPR, putting a new face on the movement that has been characterized by burly men in hard hats since the days of Richard Nixon. The "silent majority" became Reagan Democrats and eventually began morphing into inauthentic figures like Joe the Plumber backing John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008.

Teachers, nurses and home health workers present a very different image and it was these folks -- and not the police and fire unions that fashion themselves as the scion of the "silent majority" -- who have been targeted here.

That provides tremendous new political fodder for unions, particularly in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio have have rich labor traditions and are politically flexible enough to elect candidates from both parties.

And that's where the Koch's ultimate tactic -- politically weaken the strongest source of Democratic support -- may have gone seriously off the tracks. Instead of delivering a death blow to the labor movement, Wisconsin may have given it the strongest jump start -- uniting two political wings that agree on little else except for the sanctity of collective bargaining.

All eyes will be on Wisconsin to see if the selective punishment of union members who didn't back Walker will bring the fiscal relief he claims it will. And that bar is now very high. When, as is I expect, it fails to achieve Walker's unrealistic claims, the first wave of politics will sweep the GOP out of Wisconsin's office, spearheaded by the groups that labor unions are built to organize.

Pundits suggested we not be in place to have a fourth wave election in as many election cycles. I suspect they are wrong. The question is how large will the tsunami be and who will be swept away.

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