The Wisconsin Lessons for the GOP

Earlier this year Gary North published an article: “Has Governor Scott Walker Lost the War With the Government Employee Labor Unions? Ho, Ho, Ho.” In it, he said, “The unions are as busted.”

When I posted a link to it on the Facebook, a liberal friend of mine responded:

It is too early to gloat. Wisconsin has always been a liberal state. Now that the people of the state have seen the true horror of Walker’s corporate policies, they will vote him out.

She had put her hopes on the recall vote for six Republican state senators. She thought that “the people” will side with the teachers unions. After all, in her own little world of socialist propaganda, unions can’t be wrong; the teachers teach the kids, therefore the parents will side with the teachers against Scott Walker.

Nothing could go wrong with the recall, as far as the Democrats in Wisconsin were concerned; Wisconsin is a liberal state, and it was the birth place of organized socialism in the United States, for those of us who care to remember. The teachers’ unions created a lot of noise earlier this year; they completely convinced themselves that they had the upper hand in the debate. The Republicans in the state were quite pessimistic about the outcome. The prevailing opinion was that Governor Walker has done something really “radical”: balancing the budget and challenging the racket of the unions. Such “radical” actions must have destroyed his popularity in Wisconsin; the GOP has no chance but lose the recalls. The voters don’t want anything as radical, they want the government to keep spending and keep subsidizing public unions with no challenge at all. “Wise” politics consists of not rocking the boat of the established consensus, where the government keeps spending and expect the taxpayers to pick up the tab.

Yesterday, this belief was shattered. Of the six districts where recall votes for Republican state senators were cast, four re-elected Republicans. Of the other two, one was in a heavily Democrat district; the other Republican lost not because of politics but because of his personal moral choices which did not appeal to the voters.

This victory comes after the Tea Party and its representatives in the US Congress were severely criticized by the Democrats for their refusal to accept the debt ceiling “deal” which did nothing to curb spending but gave a blank check to Obama’s administration to spend more than any time before in history. Even Republicans joined the chorus; John McCain bashed conservatives for “pushing a balanced budget on America” which he deemed “unrealistic.” His rantings won him praise by the far liberal Washington Post. It seems like the whole traditional political machine, Republicans and Democrats alike, has mobilized to oppose the calls for less government spending, balanced budget, small government, and opposing the racket of the public-sector unions. Only 22 Republican Congressmen were faithful to the moral and political mandate given them by the Tea Party and voted against the fake deal struck between Boehner and Obama. The rest of the Republicans just voted “politics as usual”: screw the taxpayer, enlarge the government, increase government spending. Again, “compromise” was judged by the GOP to be the “wise” course in politics, over against the “extremism” of those who want sound fiscal and economic policies.

Wisconsin proved the opposite. Far from being “moderate,” Governor Walker acted earlier this year exactly in accordance with what in Washington is considered “extremist” demands. He was not afraid to face the unions, and he did not cave under pressure as Boehner did. Balancing the budget was his first priority and he was determined to win, no matter what his political opponents would raise against him. The Democrats and the unions were utterly confused, they have never seen anyone so unwilling to make moral compromises; it ran against their deeply held beliefs about what wins in politics. Many Republicans were unsure too; such uncompromising political stand hasn’t been tried in the US politics for decades; no one knew what was going to come out of it. Common sense, after all, dictated that “politics” is synonymous with “compromise”; anyone who wouldn’t compromise couldn’t win the votes.

But Walker won. He won the recall for his Republican state senators yesterday; and there is little chance that he won’t win a possible recall for the governorship next year. The “wisdom” of American politics has been proven foolishness; the uncompromising stand for what is moral and right proved to be the winning strategy.

The GOP must learn from this. The days of “politics as usual” are over. Compromise is becoming a dirty word; the voters are more and more aware that it was moral compromises that brought America to this situation today. The GOP must “radicalize” itself if it is to win the next elections. “Radical” ideas like balanced budget, spending cuts, and shrinking the federal government to its Constitutional limits must become the new policy of the Republicans today. As long as the Republican Party continues its business as usual, the new generation of voters will regard it as nothing but an addendum to the Democrats; this will lose votes and will perpetuate the current agony, politically and economically. Wisconsin offered a free lesson. Let’s hope the GOP learns from it.