8 Authoritarian Tactics Right-Wingers Have Used to Sabotage the Wisconsin Uprising
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When conservatives seized townhall meetings, yelled racial insults at black lawmakers and threatened politicians who voted for health care, the right-wing celebrated their corporate-backed efforts as a populist uprising. And when teachers, police officers, firefighters and students took to Wisconsin's capitol in peaceful protest, the right-wing crusaders against government overreach have embraced creepy authoritarian tactics to shut down the demonstrations. Their actions serve as a much-needed reminder of how threatening unions are to corporate powers and how essential a weapon against the conservative agenda.
Here are eight creepy ways Gov. Walker, Republican lawmakers, Tea Party groups, and (of course) Fox and conservative pundits, have gone after Wisconsin's public workers and their supporters.
1. Threat of Military Force
Inspired by the American business elite's proud history of bloody union-busting, Walker threatened to call in the National Guard if the states' employees didn't accept the total repeal of their economic rights.
While Walker assured public employees that he would not preemptively unleash the National Guard on them, he did warn that they'd been prepped just in case.
As blogger Paul William Tenney pointed out, "Can anyone imagine the capitol police threatening to break up Tea Party protests in D.C. during the health reform debate?"
(Actually, no: Democratic lawmakers don't threaten their political opponents with force; and if they ever did, conservatives' sense of victimhood would swell so massively it would destroy the universe.)
2. Sabotage Protests
If you were a Republican lawmaker bent on dismantling 100 years of labor gains, what would you say to the right-wing billionaire who funded your way to office so you could do just that? Thanks to the ingenuity and balls of the Buffalo Beast's Ian Murphy, who posed as David Koch and held a lengthy phone conversation with Walker, we know the answer to that! Mostly, we know that Walker is willing to subvert ethics rules and the norms of basic human decency to get the union-busting legislation passed.
Baited by Murphy, Walker admitted that he had considered planting "troublemakers" in the crowd to make the protesters look bad, and to help put public opinion -- which is decidedly against his actions and the legislation -- on his side.
Walker says he decided against the plan. Not because it's, you know, wrong, but because an escalation of the conflict into potential violence might put public pressure on him to resolve it. And clearly, that's not an option, since Walker's plan rides entirely on refusing any negotiation with union leaders or Democratic lawmakers that doesn't end in what he wants. (Union leaders have already conceded the economic parts, agreeing to much higher pension and health care costs -- they just aren't willing to let Walker actively destroy public employee unions by taking away collective bargaining.)
Besides, is it really his job to take what his constituents want into account? How much money did teachers contribute to his campaign anyway? (Here's how much money the Kochs gave him.)
Anyway, today Madison's police chief understandably asked Walker to elaborate on why he'd considered creating disruptions at a peaceful protest.
"I find it very unsettling and troubling that anyone would consider creating safety risks for our citizens and law enforcement officers. Our department works hard dialoging with those who are exercising their First Amendment right, those from both sides of the issue, to make sure we are doing everything we can to ensure they can demonstrate safely," he said.
3. Holding Workers Hostage
Walker's concern for the people of Wisconsin was also on display during the call, when he bragged to the fake Koch that one plan he had in the works was to blackmail the Democratic lawmakers who left the state by laying off workers.