Up until this year, Wisconsin was seen as a peaceful land of cheese and badgers. Now it’s a political wasteland of ideological barbed wire and rhetorical bomb craters.
Case in point: the Supreme Court election, to be held on April 5. The incumbent, David Prosser, has been on the Court for 12 years, earning generally high marks. His opponent, Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, has a fine resume, including a twenty-year career of service with the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Until recently, Prosser was considered a heavy favorite to retain his position…
… but then the War on Taxpayers broke out, and only one thing about this race mattered: Prosser is a Republican, Kloppenburg is a Democrat, and the public unions want another seat on the state Supreme Court, because the fate of Governor Scott Walker’s budget reforms may ultimately be decided there.
Suddenly the Supreme Court race became a typical no-holds-barred, by-any-means-necessary union operation, complete with surging tides of political money and bottom-feeding attacks. Kloppenburg has received endorsements from prominent Democrats looking for leverage against Governor Scott Walker. Curiously, many of these endorsements are scribbled on the back of Best Western motel stationery, and arrived with tiny bottles of shampoo.
A group heavily funded by the national Democrat Party and the NEA produced a disgusting attack ad, accusing Prosser of conspiring with the local Catholic bishop to protect a pedophile priest 30 years ago. This actually prompted one of the victims to come forward and denounce the ad, saying “I do not appreciate myself or my case being used for political advantage, especially in today’s climate of dirty politics.”
Wisconsin taxpayers already got to enjoy the spectacle of the Democrat caucus fleeing the state, essentially seceding from a political system whose authority they chose not to recognize. Now they’ve got a gathering storm of recall elections to deal with… and there is far more money and energy being poured into efforts to repeal the Republicans who remained at their posts.
At the Washington Examiner, Byron York sizes up the odds: “On the Democratic side are the AFL-CIO, the big public worker unions, party organizations and activist groups like MoveOn.org, which have already raised millions of dollars online. On the Republican side are a few Tea Party groups, taxpayer organizations and not a lot more.” The success of the recall efforts depends heavily on collecting signatures on petitions, an endeavor where union organization will be a powerful asset.
So far, there hasn’t been much interest from national Republicans – either politically or at the grassroots level – in these Wisconsin aftershocks. There is a tendency for outside observers to feel as if the saga concluded with the Governor’s signature on the budget repair bill. They should have learned from the “fleebagger” saga that the Left does not simply accept the results of elections or legislative battles, when powerful interests see a fighting chance to overturn those results. If Democrats were willing to serve union interests by running away from the state capitol, why would it be surprising that Democrat political operatives in judicial robes would freeze the machinery of government with court orders?
If these efforts to secure control of the state Supreme Court and recall Republican representatives are successful, Wisconsin will have completed its descent into a banana republic. The unions will have established the precedent that no government is legitimate unless they control it. The repercussions will be felt on other state battlefields in the War on Taxpayers, and in the national elections of 2012.
All of this started because the employees of the state decreed that taxpayers have no say in how they are compensated. It is a natural result of putting millions of dollars under political control. The fate of public union employees has very little to do with how effective they prove at their jobs. It has much more to do with how effectively they control the government that “negotiates” with their unions. It’s an irresistible formula for producing an ugly state.