On her MSNBC program, Rachel Maddow explained what the protests in Wisconsin are really all about. Maddow said, “What’s happening in Wisconsin right now is not about a budget. This is about elections. This is about the Republican Party going after the institutions that make it possible for Democrats to win elections in America.”
Here is the video from MSNBC:
Rachel Maddow began with a fact, “Wisconsin is on track to have a budget surplus this year. I am not kidding. I’m quoting their own version of the congressional budget office, the state’s own nonpartisan assess the state’s finances agency. That agency said the month that the new Republican governor of Wisconsin was sworn in, last month, that the state was on track to have a $120 million budget surplus this year. So then why exactly does Wisconsin look like this right now? Why is there a revolt in the American Midwest tonight?”
She pointed out that the media is telling the wrong story, “The main headline that you are seeing right now about this remarkable thing — look at these images — this remarkable thing that’s going on in the American Midwest, the headlines you are seeing about this are mostly wrong, because what’s going on right now in the American Midwest is about Republicans versus Democrats. It is about politics. It is about who wins the next election and the elections after that. That’s what’s going on right now in Wisconsin. This is about the survival of the Democratic Party. There are parts of the story that actually don’t make any sense unless you understand that.”
Maddow stated what Wisconsin is really about, “What’s happening in Wisconsin right now is not about a budget. This is about elections. This is about the Republican Party going after the institutions that make it possible for Democrats to win elections in America.”
She touched on the post-Citizens United power of big money in campaigns, “Organization, committees, pacs, political parties that can make big-impact political moves, that can keep up or even outspend the organizations on the other side. You know, there’s a reason that all those oil billionaires that Karl Rove has on speed dial, there is a reason those oil billionaires don’t just make their own individual I’m an oil billionaire campaign contributions. They pool all of their money in Karl Rove’s American Crossroads organization, so then Karl Rove can make multimillion-dollar impact moves in election years.”
Maddow broke down the numbers to show why Republicans unions matter to the Democratic cash supply, “In 2008, the groups that spent the most money on elections that year were the Chamber of Commerce, the giant right-wing pac Freedoms Watch, the National Rifle Association, and, hey, wait, what are all those weird little initials? Oh, yes. Service Employees International Union. And the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the public employees union. In 2010, post Citizens United, 7 of the 10 top spending groups were all right wing. Chamber of commerce, both the Karl Rove groups, Americans for Job Security. All of these right-wing groups. The only non-conservative groups that cracked the top ten were the public employees union, the SEIU, and the teachers union. That’s it. Unions are the only competition republicans have in electoral politics. Post Citizens United, conservatives look at this and they smell blood. I mean, compare this to ’08. They have knocked the unions down to sixth and seventh place. Without unions, essentially all of the big money and politics would be right-wing money. All of it. That is not hyperbole. All of it. Unions are the only players. They are the only fish of any size on the liberal side. This decides who wins elections and who loses them.”
She continued, “And if Republicans can use public policy to destroy their only competition for big political money, if they can use public policy to destroy the only major institutions that help Democratic causes at election time, then Republicans can run the table. Beyond just the money, though, a move like this also destroys the get out the vote and organizational capacity of union, which makes a huge difference on Election Day. If you were a Republican politician and you had the chance to dismantle an organization like that, an organization that was helping the other side, wouldn’t you do it? What’s happening in Wisconsin right now is about republicans vest democrats. It is about elections.”
After describing the real reason why the right destroyed ACORN, she said, “Unions are not democratic organizations, but unions’ work is beneficial to the Democratic Party. They are the only institution of any size on the liberal side of the equation. Corporate America, all of corporate America, is on the Republican side. The only institutions of any size with any heft at all on the liberal side are the unions. So of course they, too, must be destroyed. This is an existential fight for the Democratic Party. This is about whether or not the Democratic Party exists. This is why republicans want to do this so bad. If you break the public sector unions in Wisconsin, then you can break them anywhere. And if you break them everywhere, then it is bake sales versus billionaires for not only this next election but for every election here on out. Republicans run the table. Bake sales on one side, billionaires on the other. That’s it.”
Maddow explained how Wisconsin is a fight for the survival of the Democratic Party, “This is an existential fight for the democratic party. Democrats who don’t get that are being willfully ignorant. This is an existential fight for the Democratic Party, and that’s why Democrats in Wisconsin are doing what they are doing right now in Wisconsin. That’s why Wisconsin looks the way it does right now.
She concluded, “What is happening in Wisconsin right now is not about the budget. It is not about teacher tenure. It is not about whether or not librarians have too good a dental plan. That is not what this is about. This is about Republicans versus Democrats and whether or not the Democratic Party will continue to compete with the Republican Party. Whether or not the Democratic Party will continue to exist in any meaningful sense.”
The real motive behind the events in Wisconsin can be explained with one statistic. There are 7.9 million public sector union members compared to 7.4 million private sector union members. Public sector union membership grew to 37.4% in 2009, while at the same time private sector union membership declined from 7.8% to 7.2%.
If Republicans can break the public sector labor movement, it will virtually wipe out the labor movement in the United States. For years, the public sector has been the lifeblood of the union movement, and as Rachel Maddow discussed the labor movement is the only big player that the Democrats have in the race for campaign cash.
Media members on both the left and the right have been in some cases unconsciously using the right wing narrative to frame their reporting on this story. By limiting their reporting to what their eyes only see, they are restricting their reporting one dimension of what is happening in Wisconsin. (It is no coincidence that this dimension favors the conservative storyline).The more important elements exist below the surface. Wisconsin is both a battle for the survival of the labor movement in the United States, and the future relevancy of the Democratic Party in elections at all levels across this great land.
What is happening in Wisconsin matters to every single Democrat/liberal/progressive in America, because it isn’t only about the rights of workers in one state, but also the future of the left’s ability to collectively act. Wisconsin isn’t just about collective bargaining. Just as importantly, it is about the destruction of the left’s only large scale grassroots and fund raising movement. What’s at stake is nothing less than the future relevancy of the Democratic Party. Both the labor movement and the Democratic Party’s futures rest on how these events in the former heartland of progressivism play out.
This is a conservative assault on freedom. It is the right wing dream of oppressive authoritarian big government at it’s worst. Under the disguise of recessionary budgeting, liberty is at stake. Republicans want to send the American worker back to the 19th Century. It is up to those of us in 21st Century to make sure that the American people know what’s really going on.