Scott Walker survived the recall election because, apparently, Wisconsin is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers. $30 million in campaign funds will usually always beat $3.9 million. Everyone knows that.
Josh Marshall wonders how Walker managed to cease to be as unpopular as he was a year ago — what exactly happened with the anti-Walker forces and what the defeat ultimately means for them and for everyone beyond Wisconsin:
This is also a big loss for public employees unions. There’s no getting around that fact. Just why that happened is another matter. But at the end of the day, victory is all that matters. Walker went big to destroy the public-sector unions in his state. And the labor movement went all out to take him down and lost. Wisconsin’s a pretty progressive, fairly blue-ish state. This result in this state has to embolden Republican governors across the country to think you can go for game-changing attacks on key Democratic constituencies like labor and not pay a price at the polls. Public employees unions across the country have feel like they have crosshairs on their backs. And they do.
If you think union-busting, and the effort to recall Walker for doing that, doesn’t eventually affect all of us in the long run, then you haven’t been paying attention. Harold Meyerson explains,
Added to the prohibition on their ability to bargain over wages and conditions of work, what the dramatic drop in union membership means is that workers’ power to win a decent life either at the workplace or at the ballot box will be weakened. Union treasuries will grow smaller, as will the level of resources they can devote to election campaigns. That means not just less money to campaign for union-specific issues, but for the whole panoply of causes (and the candidates who back them) that unions routinely support—women’s and minority rights, affordable higher education, financial regulation, the works. [...] Of course, as historian Fred Siegel, a leading opponent of public-sector unions, remarked to me many years ago (when he was still on the left), before unions, the common form of protest for workers seeking a better life was rioting. That may eventually prove to be the common form of protest after unions, too.
The reality about unions and standard wages nationally is this:
[T]he middle class’s share of national income has steadily declined as the percentage of the population in labor unions has fallen. At the same time, the top 1 percent’s share of national income has exploded… Strong unions have traditionally been the free-market solution to income inequality, allowing people to get higher salaries without government intervention. Unionization has allowed middle class and working-class Americans to have the ability to bargain for stronger wages and benefits and a larger share of national income. Highly-unionized countries tend to have far less income inequality.
As John Cole says, “Here’s to Wisconsin getting what they voted for and getting it hard.”