Scott Walker's win is a game-changer....
Charles Krauthammer calls it the "Icarus Moment" for public-sector unions. Their formerly immense power position has peaked, and now they will follow private sector unions into decline. CK notes that the confrontation between the GOP Governor and the public unions went through three phases: (1) the budget-busting contracts the unions had won for their members, under which lavish benefits for union workers were funded by taxpayers lacking same; (2) the right to bargain collectively, which for the first time, in a liberal state, voters chose to limit; and (3) the ability of unions to coerce dues from members to spend on political causes many members do not support.
It is this third issue that CK notes is decisive. In the year since Gov. Walker's reforms allowed union members to opt out, 54 percent have left AFSCME (American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees), leaving 28,785 out of what had been 62,218 members; in the seven years since GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels passed similar reform in Indiana, public union membership is down 90 percent.
Walter Russell Mead sees a huge defeat for the Democrats:
The public sector unions are critical to what remains of the American left. The power of the public service unions in Democratic politics pulls the entire party to the left and gives ideas that are important to the left an access to power that they would otherwise lack. But more important than that, they provide a kind of center to a movement that otherwise threatens to fragment into antagonistic cliques.
The New Left of the 1960s and 1970s rapidly devolved into different factions. There are environmentalists, civil rights and Black activists, poverty activists, feminists, intellectuals in the academy and the arts, gay rights advocates and many other groups whose agendas often don’t overlap and sometimes conflict.
Two big things unite them: a general sense of being on the same side in opposition to the economic and social right, and the belief in a strong, well-funded state. Some want the state to enforce mandates and empower them to reshape and uplift the bitter clingers. Others want the state to fund their universities, create jobs for their communities or otherwise provide concrete benefits. But for all of them the progressive, bureaucratic government machinery of the 21st century is both the prize for whose control they struggle and the agent they hope will make their dreams real.
This is exactly what public sector unions believe in and want: more government mandates and more government jobs — with more security, higher wages and better benefits all the time.
Michael Barone sees union avoidance of arguing for full collective bargaining rights, near the end of the campaign, as evidence that their "rights" argument is a losing one. Michael Gerson explains why outsize union benefits forced a zero-sum choice between fully paying out union pensions versus Draconian cuts in a broad array of highly-valued public services (think: libraries, parks, education).
Put simply, their aura of invincibility is gone. And so is whatever was left of The One's invincibility, to be replaced by what Peggy Noonan calls a "house of cards" administration. Charles Lane explains why democracy won as well:
[In] the public sector, where government faces no competition, and can levy taxes to pay for labor contracts, collective bargaining is inherently undemocratic.
Union money and manpower confer political clout, which unions use to, in effect, elect their own bosses. Behind closed doors, they then decide how much the public will have to pay for education, transportation, and other services. They call it “collective bargaining,” but the unions are represented on both sides of the table.
Walker’s reforms ended that. Now, elected officials across the state can actually set work rules and pay rates with their constituents’ interests as the clear top priority.
Which may eventually tee up the final assault on the worst of all public sector unions: teachers. George Will exposes how phony many academic degrees are today. A trillion dollars in the hole and counting, funding this junk.... Will also sees merit in a GOP proposal to force major regulations to be approved by Congress, instead of delegating their enactment to bureaucrats who always seek to expand regulatory power. It will take Romney era to push this, but it is the kind of managerial initiative that Romney might find very appealing.
Stellar historian James Piereson suggests that the US may be nearing a fourth political revolutionary upheaval. The first three were those of 1800 (first change of government), the Civil War (settled sovereignty & slavery) and the New Deal (creation of large-scale regulatory state & permanent, vast federal government).
Bottom Line. Walker's win is a potential game-changer. Its impact likely will resonate for at least a generation.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Economy, Conservative Politics