WISCONSIN REVEALS A NEW AMERICAN MAJORITY
How could a state dominated by public employee unions just a few years ago reject those unions’ demands for Scott Walker’s ouster and for a return to deficit spending to finance union welfare demands? Scott Walker’s resounding victory in the Wisconsin recall election, the first instance in American history when a governor of a state slated for recall defeated such an initiative, reveals the making of a new American majority, a coalition whose cause Romney must champion to defeat Barack Obama. Wisconsin conservatives and libertarians along with a significant segment of Independent voters and conservative Democrats united in their rejection of profligate spending and union control of government. Despite thousands of union foot soldiers pressing their demands door to door and on the airwaves all across the state, a majority of the voters rejected the idea that welfare for the politically preferred is preferable to a government that lives within its means and respects the sovereignty of the people.
Fundamentally, a new majority of Wisconsin’s voters appreciated the threat of debt to the survival of their state and economy, appreciated the need for reducing the welfare gravy train for public employee unions, and demanded fiscal responsibility from those in elected office. That majority established the foundation for a basic realignment of the body politic. Are the factors that led to the formation of this majority present across the United States? Indeed they are.
The defeat of the recall initiative came amidst virtually identical concerns on the national level: a $16 trillion dollar debt with no end in sight brought about by a massive welfare state that favors government and government dependents at the expense of taxpayers and the productive; a lack of fiscal responsibility by a majority of the elected leading the government to the brink of economic collapse; and a belief that the only way to overcome political inaction in the face of a debt crisis is for the people to reassert their sovereignty and reject those who use political power to secure taxpayer funded benefits.
The defeat of the Wisconsin recall is proof of a realignment of the voting public that bodes ill for Barack Obama. The ideological heart of this movement favors elimination of public debt and dependency on big government. On this practical economic foundation, conservatives and libertarians united with Independents and conservative Democrats, creating a new Wisconsin majority. Therein lies the seeds of a new American majority, a majority that could well doom Obama’s chances of re-election.
Barack Obama has the unique position of having contributed directly to each of the ills that ignited passion in Wisconsin for defeating the recall initiative. Consequently, when the issues are fully enjoined in the presidential campaign, the precedent exists for an assembly nationally of the very same majority that rejected the recall.
Critically, while Obama’s campaign organization proved its effectiveness in 2008, the Republican efforts on the ground and over the airwaves in Wisconsin send a clear message that Obama’s opponents have just as much grass roots organizational savvy as Obama.
Moreover, Wisconsin reveals that Obama’s opponents have something critical that Obama now lacks. They have momentum. When Obama campaigned in 2008 on promises of government largesse and “change” without an abysmal track record, he could be demagogic and rely on platitudes to play upon the hopes and dreams of an America fed up with George Bush and other big government Republicans who had betrayed President Reagan’s vision. Having become yet another example of a big government failure, Obama now has no agenda capable of inspiring in that same way and little public confidence in his ability to save the nation from runaway government spending and economic collapse. Thus, Obama has turned to a negative campaign this go around, preferring it over a campaign of hope and promise because a recitation of airy platitudes and new promises would ring hollow, reminding voters that Obama’s 2008 campaign promises remain unfulfilled.
While depending on a negative campaign against Romney, rather than a positive campaign for Obama’s own (missing) agenda or in defense of his prior (failed) actions, Obama must see that the negative approach he is using failed miserably in Wisconsin. A majority of Wisconsin voters (conservatives and libertarians, independents, and conservative Democrats) were largely unimpressed by an incessant negative campaign replete with character assassination because Walker contrasted that effort with a clear agenda to achieve debt reduction, courageously implemented that agenda against a massive attack from public unions and the Democratic Party, and gave no quarter to those who opposed his basic economic principles. In short, a majority of Wisconsin voters could not be fooled into believing a government of debt and burden preferable to a government of no debt and less burden, regardless of the extent of cries coming from those in the public sector who were being asked simply to pay their fair share.
In short, voters in Wisconsin--like virtually all conservatives and libertarians, a significant number of independents, and a significant number of conservative Democrats--want to know precisely what Obama will do to eliminate the national debt and restore fiscal responsibility. Repeatedly Obama has provided no direct answer because his greatest love is a government of unlimited power and control. Indeed, he has no plan to cut anything more than $200 billion per year from a budget that exceeds receipts by $1.3 trillion per year. His “solutions” involve taxing Americans, particularly wealthy ones, more while simultaneously advocating massive increases in federal spending for public employees and works, which have the net effect of increasing by trillions the national debt and depressing the job market. Indeed, all of his tax increases, while devastating to capital accumulation necessary for job growth, amount to receipts that are less than $200 billion per year in the face of a $1.3 trillion annual deficit.
Consequently, Obama stands much like the Unions and Democratic Party in Wisconsin, clinging to a myriad of pet spending programs, refusing to cut spending, and thinking only of new ways to create ever greater government obligations and controls. Those concepts proved unappealing to a majority of Wisconsin voters, and those concepts are likely to prove unappealing in the rest of the country. Much thus depends on Romney. In short, Romney has this election to lose. If he fails to chart a clear course to eliminate the national debt, restore fiscal responsibility, and liberate the tax and regulatory burden that prevents private sector job creation, he will deny voters that clear choice that Walker gave the people of Wisconsin. If, however, Romney does chart that clear course and cannot be moved from it, Obama will be forced at some point to shift away from a failing negative campaign and provide a competitive model in a desperate effort to curry favor with the new American majority. Bill Clinton recently signaled his understanding of this direction by his not so subtle criticism of Obama’s refusal to embrace tax relief for the private sector.
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In short, as in 2010, the tea party movement, the libertarians, and the conservative movement have touched a chord in the typical American voter who accepts that government spending is unsustainable and is taking down the economy. Just a short time ago many in the media and on Capitol Hill prematurely declared the tea party dead. They were proven wrong in Wisconsin. Indeed, the tea party, libertarian, and conservative voters are energized and heading to the polls in large numbers joined by disaffected Independents and conservative Democrats who fear an impending state suicide induced by astronomical debt. This new American majority is the coalition whose cause Romney must champion if he is to achieve Obama’s defeat. It is this new American majority that Obama now sees and fears most.
© 2012 Jonathan W. Emord - All Rights Reserved