Scott Walker’s win tonight was a resounding victory for political courage and government reform. After more than a year of vitriolic attacks and tens of millions of dollars from union member paychecks, Walker and his GOP allies survived everything unions could throw at them. It was a victory for grass roots activists, the tea party and a newly emboldened Republican party. Most importantly, it was a victory for the common sense reforms championed by Walker.
Democrats claimed that Walker had championed “divisive” polices that sparked a “political civil war” in the state. The reforms required state workers to contribute a little bit more to their benefits and gave local governments the freedom to set their own health care and pension policies. Walker’s reforms put Wisconsin government workers on the exact same negotiating footage as federal government workers.
In response, the unions threw a tantrum. They occupied the Capitol. They marched and protested and fed a media narrative that the public was against Walker’s reforms. The old union playbook was working until Andrew Breitbart showed up and galvanized a burgeoning grass roots movement to call the union’s bluff. He, through his websites, exposed enough of the violent and disruptive tactics of the unions that the media narrative was blunted. Just enough for Walker’s reforms to pass.
And, the reforms worked. That fact should not be lost in the celebrations tonight.
Walker’s reforms allowed the state to cover a deficit that have been bequeathed to the state by the previous Democrat governor. They allowed local governments to cover their own budget shortfalls without drastic cuts or lay-offs. The state and local government didn’t have to resort to economically crippling tax hikes. They didn’t have to execute mass firings of workers. They simply made public sector compensation a little more in line with private sector compensation. And, the public understood this.
The unions have spent close to $100 million on recalls and protests over the last 18 months. At the end of this, they may temporarily take control of a state Senate that won’t meet again. It was a resounding defeat for the unions.
Tonight, Walker’s victory has a host of legitimate fathers. New media, grass roots, tea party and, even, the GOP establishment all had a hand in this win. New media broke through the filter of the legacy media. Grass roots and tea party activists brought energy and countless volunteers. The GOP establishment brought millions of dollars in resources to counter the unions and an infrastructure to channel the activists’ enthusiasm. All were necessary for victory.
But, most important were the policies. They worked. And, that, is the shot heard round state capitals tonight.