"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Silent Majority

Democrats in Wisconsin and their union allies were so incensed at Governor Scott Walker's efforts to balance the state's budget by changing the way public employee benefits are negotiated that they, first, tried to defeat a sitting Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, David Prosser; and, second, engineered recall elections for six Republican State Senators.   In either case, had they won, they would have gained a majority, either on the Court, or in the State Senate.   So they spent millions in union slush funds, both from in-state sources and (more) from out-of-state sources.  

Wisconsin became a test case for liberal pushback against the fiscal restraint of the Tea Party and its GOP representatives like Walker.  

What happened in the Supreme Court race?   They lost.   Prosser remains on the Court and conservatives remain in the majority.

What happened last night in the recall elections?   Democrats needed to take 3 of the 6 seats to take the State Senate.   They lost.   Republicans won 4 of the 6 races, including the Alberta Darling-Sandy Pasch race in suburban Milwaukee, where Democrats heavily outspent Republicans in media buys, and on which the unions pinned their hopes.   The two races the Democrats won were two they should have had in the bag under any circumstances:  over a moderate Republican in a heavily Democratic district (Dave Kapanke), and over a disgraced Republican State Senator (Randy Hopper) who had only recently left his wife and been exposed as having an affair with a 25 year-old staffer/intern.

The moral of the story?  The protests in the state Capitol over Walker's budget fix last February and March got a lot of press, both locally and nationally, but in the end the electorate isn't made up of a majority of people who show up at protests in Madison.   It's made up of people who have jobs, houses, churches, kids, and interests outside of politics.   It's made up of people who don't think that it's out of line to ask teachers and government bureaucrats to pay a little toward their own health care or toward their own pensions.   It's made up of people who don't think that their taxes are too low, but who think, in general, that they're too high.   It's made up of people who don't think it's bizarre Tea Party extremism to want to balance a government's budget, since they try to balance their own families' budgets every day.

In other words, the Silent Majority.   Last night in Wisconsin, the Silent Majority spoke once again.  

As for the public employee unions, the moral of the story is:  Be Not Afraid.   They talk a big game.  But they are dinosaurs, slow-moving, half-witted, and ignorant of the fact that their period of dominance is coming to an end.

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