The Dems' Tepid Approach to What's at Stake in Wisc. Is Helping Conservatives Destroy Unions, Defund the Democratic Party and Take over the Country
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The Wisconsin protests are about much more than budgets and unions. As I observed in What the Right-wing Assault on Women, Unions, the Environment, Health Care and PBS Is All About, the conservative story about budget deficits is a ruse to turn the country conservative in every area. Karl Rove and Shep Smith have made it clear on Fox: If the Wisconsin plan to kill the public employees’ unions succeeds, then there will be little union money in the future to support democratic candidates. Conservatives will be effectively unopposed in raising campaign funding in most elections, including the presidential elections. This will mean a thoroughly conservative America in every issue area.
The media, with few exceptions, is failing to get at the deeper issues.
Let’s start with the case of the Lincoln legislators. As is well known about Lincoln, and as the Political Wire reports,
On December 5, 1840, Democrats "proposed an early adjournment, knowing this would bring a speedy end to the State Bank. The Whigs tried to counter by leaving the capitol building before the vote, but the doors were locked. That's when Lincoln made his move. He headed for the second story, opened a window and jumped to the ground!"
Lincoln would be, and we all should be, proud that the Wisconsin state senators have courageously crossed the state line to Illinois to avoid a quorum in Wisconsin that would have a disastrous effect, not only on Wisconsin, but on America for the indefinite future.
Quorum rules are an inherent part of democracy. They are in the Wisconsin Constitution for a reason. When an extreme move by a legislative majority would be a disaster, patriotic legislators can, like Lincoln, refuse to allow the disaster is the have the power to stop it. That is their democratic duty, not only to their constituents, but to the nation.
That is why I think these legislators should be called the “Lincoln Legislators” as a term of honor. They understand that their courage is being called upon, not just in the name of collective bargaining rights, but in the name of protecting democracy from a total conservative takeover. The Lincoln story, and the greater good story, should be in the media every day. And Democrats nationwide should be hailing the courage, and vital importance, of those legislators.
Yet the media keeps reporting on them as “fleeing” and refusing to do their jobs. Where there is positive reporting, as on MSNBC’s The Ed Show , it is only about defending unions and collective bargaining rights for working people.
The media — and the Democrats — also need to do a much better job on a sneaky conservative media strategy. The clearest example occurred in the NY Times. David Brooks, in his Feb. 21, 2011 column wrote: “Private sector unions push against the interests of shareholders and management; public sector unions push against the interests of taxpayers.” I turned on CNN that day and heard Anderson Cooper introduce the Wisconsin protest story as a battle between taxpayers and unions. These are massive distortions, but they are what conservatives want the public to believe.
The real issue is whether conservatives will get what they really want: the ability to turn the country conservative on every issue, legally and permanently. Eliminating the public sector unions could achieve that. Collective bargaining rights are the immediate issue, but they are symbolic of the real issue at stake. That is the story the media should be telling — and that Democrats everywhere in America should be shouting out loud.