August 10, 2011

Congratulations, Wisconsin Governor Dale Schultz

And welcome to the Dark Side?
Republican state Sen. Dale Schultz said this week he was "decoyed" on Feb. 17 by Gov. Scott Walker into missing a key chance on the Senate floor to put in play a compromise on Walker's plan to eliminate most union bargaining for public employees. — Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 08.04.11
The lone Republican critic of Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill issued his most blistering words yet, accusing his colleagues of "classic overreach." — Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 03.03.11
While Democrats and their supporters failed last night in their bid to flip the Wisconsin Senate to their favor (it stood at R-19 to D-14 yesterday; this morning it's R-17 to D-16), there remains Dale Schultz, who was not exactly enamored with his party's collective bargaining rights policy. That policy was revealed in February, after Republicans took control of both legislative chambers and the governor's mansion on the heels of a political campaign that studiously avoided mentioning any plans to do so.

This morning conservatives are claiming vindication — and they have some reason to: the results last night are fairly convincing,* albeit they lost two Senators in defense of and on their very own turf — but if we retrofit the present composition of the Senate to the circumstances in February, things would have played out quite differently than they did.

There's apparently much contention among the left over what the issues driving — present tense: there are two more of them next Tuesday — these recall elections are. While it's true that the left bears a panoply of grievances against the Walker regime it cannot be denied that what birthed that conflagration was specifically the regime's objective of disempowering public employees of their rights to collective bargaining.

At least, it shouldn't be forgotten, as the distinction between demanding specific wage and benefits concessions from workers — which the Walker regime did separately and to which the public employees' unions conceded without struggle — and the right simply to participate in the process in a mutually equitable manner is a substantial distinction.**

Sen. Schultz by his appearances perceives that distinction and while it may be an irrelevant intellectual exercise to retroject August into March, among the myriad takes on yesterday's results everybody with a account is bound to pronounce, it's worth contemplating.

Divining voter intent en masse is the dodgiest of "science" in political science because individual voters are ultimately uncomparable, driven as they are by the disparate personal experiences that necessarily color their perceptions of policy issues and the interplay among those issues' relative importance to them with partisan affiliation — or lack thereof — which in turn may be either confined by or independent of this country's unique two-party system. Which is an admittedly unwieldy way of saying that two diametrically opposed conclusions may be just as equally valid.

So if it is the case that Wisconsin electors prefer their government with at least some marginally substantive Democratic representation as compared to wholesale control by Republicans — which last night's results might well legitimately indicate, as voters just replaced one-third of the Republican incumbents presented to them, kept on one Democrat two weeks ago, and will most likely affirm the incumbency of two more Democrats next Tuesday — then it's not a total fantasy to imagine how things would have played out in the spring were there to be some quantitative resistance to Scott Walker's union-busting "bomb drop."

Especially considering the fact that those electors were kept unaware of Walker's specific plans when they (marginally) awarded him his office last November. Nevertheless and in any event, Sen. Dale Schultz (R-17th) is probably the most powerful politician in all Wisconsin today.

* The vote totals of all six of last yesterday's elections give the WISGOP a six-point margin, 53% to 47%, but all six were Republican seats going in. Those who mock any continued efforts to recall Walker himself shouldn't take too much solace from those figures, however, because obviously they're to be expected from (formerly) exclusively GOP strongholds, allowing for the consideration of which they're not impressive at all.

** And yes I'm aware of the differences between employers whose revenues are raised from the public and those whose are derived from sales in the private sector. I'm approaching the controversy from a philosophical position where rights exist in the abstract and in this case, are not colored by how the employer fills its coffers. You can challenge that premise or assumption and I understand it's a legitimate challenge.


gnarlytrombone said...

Strawberry fields forevah.

My plug-nickel political science says that it's also impossible to separate issues from events. The blowback on collective bargaining was in some immeasurable part a reaction to Walker's blitzpolitik, followed by blowback to the blowback. We're not even debating the same issue that we would have had Walker scribbled it his campaign platform.

Or maybe that's just me projecting my own belief that contempt of transparency and process is mortal sin.

Anonymous said...

Kapanke's district was hardly a GOP stronghold. It's like saying that Nebraska is a Democratic stronghold because Ben Nelson has been elected Senator and Governor there. Kapanke's district is more Democratic than the state as a whole.

Hopper is a GOP-leaning district, and he barely lost it. He likely would have kept the seat had there not been a sex scandal involved. In the other 4 district GOP posted convincing wins by 4, 8, 16, and 20 points.

illusory tenant said...

hardly a GOP stronghold.

Fair cop. Grabbed a lazy cliché.

Anonymous said...

Exactly the analysis sorely missing in our newspapers.

Brew City Brawler said...

Hopper barely lost by a more impressive margin than he barely won previously; not clear that he would have kept his seat even if he had kept it in his pants.

Mike said...

This was a substantial Democratic victory even though coming short of the maximum goal of winning three seats and flipping the Senate. I could answer anon that Clark came within 2200 votes of unseating Olsen, but it is the trends you want to watch rather than these quixotic details (you are exemplary in this, IT).

Part of the dynamic is a Democratic activist and voter base training itself to be persistent and disciplined over time. Trying to destroy the unions was not wise. This is a movement that thrives in adverse conditions. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka saluted Walker as the movement's organizer-in-chief and many thought it was a throw-away line, but it is the literal truth.

Anonymous said...

MIke, I hear you, but the "victory" would have came had Darling been unseated. And, yes, Olsen finally faced a tough re-election Will he be mindful of those constituents who gave him a scare, or will he be in lock step with his GOP cronies without worrying about future repercussions?

Sure, the fever pitch of the Democratic base and their "independent" voter allies will continue, with a Walker recall election in the offing. But, only his defeat in such an endeavor will those efforts resonate in our state and country as "legitimate". Otherwise, I feel the two "wins" may be pyrrhic in nature. Death blow? No, but certainly a major punch in the stomach. And do not get me started about the 2012 Election, that is a MUST for Democrats.

Not to say we should throw in the towel or put our collective hands in the air in defeat--the yell should be kept at maximum volume, but I am speaking realistically.

Sorry, I usually saved my diatribes for P-Mac...


Mike said...

Like you say, anon, we need real victories. They will continue to come if we don't lose our nerve and keep pushing - the gods are with us.

The implications of Tuesday's election are starting to sink in. Arjun Jaikumar at DailyKos speaks of Dale Schultz as the new de facto Majority Leader. But why de facto? 16 Dems plus Dale Shultz is a majority. Stranger things have happened. All assuming that Holperin and Wirch hold on next Tuesday, of course.

Anonymous said...

Please show me wrong, but until then the score for Dale Schultz on the 10-point scale is:

Talk: 7
Courage: 1