On her MSNBC program Rachel Maddow not only explained how Scott Walker and the right are losing their battle to bust America’s public sector unions, but also how the protesters are winning. Maddow said, “It looks like it is turning into a national fight, and it looks like it is a national fight the Republicans may be losing everywhere.”
Here is the video from MSNBC:
Maddow began by suggesting that the Republicans’ union busting plan is not going so well, “Republicans in Wisconsin threw the first punch this month in what they hoped would become a national fight. It looks like it is turning into a national fight, and it looks like it is a national fight the Republicans may be losing everywhere.”
She explained that Walker’s union busting movement isn’t catching on, “What Scott Walker was saying to this guy he thought was a billionaire was how all the other states, all the other states are going to follow in his Scott Walker footsteps, because he is doing the big great thing in Wisconsin in taking on and taking apart the unions. Not only is that starting to not work out for the governor in Wisconsin, it is also not working out in the other states he mentioned so excitedly. You heard him mention his pal Rick Snyder from Michigan. Governor Snyder is facing police and firefighters protesting in Lansing. That’s Michigan. In Ohio, things are yet unresolved. No matter how often Governor Walker says he is talking to Governor Kasich in Ohio, things aren’t going the Republicans’ way there either. Republicans are caving on key portions of their union stripping bill and protests against it are still growing.”
She continued, “In Florida, also mentioned by Scott Walker as a place that would follow in his big Scott Walker footsteps, that is seeming more and more unlikely. These very, very Tea Party Republican Governor Scott came out in support of bargaining rights, even for public employees. They started this fight. Wanted it in all these states across the country, and they’re getting it. And it’s really not working out all that well for them.
Rachel Maddow dissected Scott Walker’s disastrous strategy, the strategy in Wisconsin, the Republican approach to the fight was essentially to hunker down and wait it out as long as possible. Right? That is the type of strategy you employ not only if you think you’re right, but if you think you have the public on your side. Let things drag out so people can see how wrong your opponents are. That was the Republican strategy for Wisconsin. They weren’t going to budge. They were going to dig in, not compromise. Wanted to wait, wait, wait, and let things drag out as long as possible.”
She discussed the fatal flaw in this strategy, “Here is the problem with that strategy. What we know from recent political experience is that sometimes when protests go on for a really long time, people start to associate the thing that is being protested with the chaos and division and disruption that comes from big sustained protests. The summer of 2009, when the health reform battle was going on. Remember the summer of the screaming town halls? The impression it had on most of the country, on people that weren’t prone to go out and yell about anything, was that there must be something wrong with the healthcare reform bill. Whenever I hear about it, people are screaming. It seems like it is divisive, makes people hate each other. Makes me have a bad feeling, even if i don’t know why. how about we talk about the policy merits of the debate the screams probably served to weaken support for healthcare reform. It went on for a long time, became divisive and loud.”
Maddow explained that the longer the protests go the more sympathy they gain, “Same idea in Wisconsin. Republicans are the ones dragging it out. You don’t necessarily have to sympathize with the protesters. If people are protesting against something for a long period of time, making a big ruckus about it, then that thing is likely to become less popular. The holding out as long as you can strategy by the Republicans is not working.”
After talking about the Gallup poll showing that 61% of Americans disagree with the Republican position, Maddow said that Republicans misjudged the American people, “Republicans have misjudged whether or not people are going to agree with them on this. People don’t really agree with you guys on this. Maybe it works for your base, but overall as an issue, it is not working. All of the stretching out is doing is putting the spotlight on what you are doing is unpopular, and gives the opportunity for you to make embarrassing mistakes. Exhibit A, falling for quite literally the oldest trick in the book, the oldest trick in the book since there have been phones. The prank phone call, really? Scott Walker heard here laying out his secret plan to trick democrats into returning to the state to talk to him. Laying out his secret plan to some guy somebody told him is a billionaire. Laying out how he is going to trick Democrats into coming back to the state so he can allow Republicans to hold their votes.”
Later Maddow explained the political calculus that the Republicans now face, “So this is the political calculus that Governor Walker has earned himself. He is now the guy telling Wisconsin he’s going to get rid of thousands of jobs in order to do something that is super unpopular. Get that on a bumper sticker. In case anybody needed to be reminded of what’s happening in Wisconsin isn’t just about Wisconsin, in case anybody needed to be reminded about whose agenda this really is, here is the reminder that Governor Walker has given his whole state. A $340,000 television ad buy from the real billionaire and chemical industry brothers from Wichita. An ad from Americans for Prosperity that is titled, “Stand With Scott Walker.” A nice reminder of whose interest this whole union stripping thing really serves.”
Maddow concluded, “We have now reached the end of day nine of the massive protests in Madison, Wisconsin. Protests that have spread into a number of surrounding states. Republicans wanted this. Republicans had a plan here to hunker down and wait it out. Might be time for them to start thinking about Plan B.
Every day that these protests strongly continue moves the Republicans 24 hours closer to defeat. The protests are gaining steam and national media attention. The backlash against Walker’s Wisconsin union busting scheme is so severe that it is already scaring other Republican governors away from pursuing this ideological dream in their own states.
The reason why the American people have rallied to support the protesters isn’t because they support unions or collective bargaining. The basis for their support rests in our collective American concept of rights. The vast majority of Americans see collective bargaining as a right, and if there is one emotional trigger that will rally the American people behind almost any cause it is the idea that a right is being taken away.
The threat of a lost right provokes a sense of unfairness in many Americans. Their support for unions and collective bargaining becomes a secondary issue. The debate in Wisconsin shifted from a political one behind an economic pretense to a moral one.
The question in the minds of many has become a question of moral rightness. Is it morally correct to strip this right away from a group of people? Republicans are usually very good at making emotional arguments, but Gov. Walker didn’t bother to appeal to emotions. He tried to justify his actions with a phony budget crisis.
State budgets don’t resonate with the hearts of the American people. State budget deficits don’t play well on cable news. A state budget isn’t a great visual. The protesters are winning because they have emotion on their side. They are beating back the biggest threat to employee rights since the New Deal, because they are winning the hearts of the American people.
The people carrying those signs in Madison look like our friends and neighbors. They aren’t angry and threatening. They’re just middle class people who are trying to stop big government from taking away their rights. They are trying to earn a living just like me and you. For this reason, they are winning. Walker and the Republicans have completely misjudged the response of the American people. For them, this was all about business. They thought the American people wouldn’t notice or care. They never anticipated that this could become a moral or emotional conflict. They read it wrong, completely wrong.
In their great overreach, Republicans also did something else. They reenergized the Democratic base. David Koch and Scott Walker have gotten Democrats involved and engaged again. Democrats don’t have a lot of issues that can unify us all, but collective bargaining is one of them. Scott Walker has awoken the Democratic populist spirit. The left is back, and they are not going to go away without a fight.