The impressive show by tens of thousands of public-school teachers out to “Kill the Bill” in front of Wisconsin’s capitol might have gone unnoticed prior to the ‘Great Recession.’ Probably it would not have happened.
After all, when since the Civil War – even in the ‘Great Depression’ – has any large body of citizenry rebelled against the clear mandate of a fair election held only weeks before? Successful Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker had made crystal clear his intentions vis-à-vis public-sector unionism.
Average Americans usually don’t engage en masse in civil disobedience unless abject evil is much afoot. Selma Alabama comes to mind.
At issue in the Badger State is a Republican sponsored bill pending in the legislature to outlaw collective bargaining by and between government-worker unions and the state’s municipalities.
The implications and stakes could be momentous.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, quipped it’s “Cairo moved to Wisconsin.” However inadvertently, Ryan implies that a ‘brotherhood’ of sorts lurks in the wings; that the Madison demonstration is not so grass-roots and spontaneous – or American – as appears.
Fourteen Democrat state senators concertedly expatriated from the state to deny Watson a legislative quorum. They might have called in sick – as reportedly thousands of protesting teachers have – but apparently were galvanized and warned they could be subject to sanctions if hunted down on state turf.
There are additional seeming orchestrations …
An unbelievable report that numbers of licensed medical doctors suddenly appeared on Madison street corners issuing fraudulent sick slips to marching teachers – unwittingly to a few masquerading Tea Partiers and reporters as well.
Might such fraud redefine and elevate a rightful assemblage to a mob – that is, to an unrightful rebellion? Arguably so, but probably not.
In 1959 Wisconsin was the first state in the union to give government workers the right of collective bargaining. Governor Walker’s “budget repair bill” takes back that right and consequently has been identified as the vanguard of a thinly veiled national Republican union-busting scheme.
The Governor insists that his objectives are purely fiscal contending that up to 10,000 state and municipal jobs are currently at risk by the union stranglehold on his state’s coffers. And, he reminds the critics that the state’s civil-service protections, first enacted in the early 1900’s, are among the strongest in the nation.
There have been ‘million-man’ marches on Washington, but purposed on broad constitutional principles – no banners like “Workers of the World [/ Wisconsin] Unite” Flying. Americans of even opposing private interests and varying ethnicities march shoulder to shoulder for civil rights, women’s’ rights, peace, etc., etc., but never as a Marxist class or labor union demanding or safeguarding a piece of the common pie.
Civil demonstrations in America – no matter their scale – generally last a day.
Some say the extended Wisconsin event is scary, portending class warfare unheard of in America – Marx’s predictions long since discredited. But radicals forever foment ‘chaos’ to promote radical change. Hence, presidential assassinations, Oklahoma City, Nine-Eleven, Fort Hood, etc.
Delusional murderers John Wilkes Booth and Timothy McVeigh were sorely disappointed when their bloody actions failed to spark bloody upheaval.
Strikes against private companies are a proud tradition in America. Seldom, however, has a selfish vested interest marched on Washington – or any state capitol.
The Wisconsin union instigators are no doubt sanguine (not bloodthirsty) that their anomalous tempest will whistle the pot. But not even Tea Partiers arriving in their numbers will necessarily create enough steam.
For sure, someone will blink. It might have to be the good guy, Governor Watson. But if he does, no witches’ brew likely will boil over.