Readers are very irate that we have been focusing elsewhere and that I have not taken a solid or thought-out position on this boiling public issue. I take the point and was a little glib about it. I've also made an editorial decision to focus on the Middle East's 1848 this weekend, as events there are, by any measure, extraordinary. Nonetheless I have been doing my best to do my homework on Walker, public sector collective bargaining, Wisconsin history and politics, and the intricacies of how this was handled. I didn't know enough, although my general inclination is to be suspicious of public sector unions, their motives and their power. But it was and is precisely because of that prejudice - burned deep in someone who grew up in a country all but destroyed by public sector unions - that I decided not to jump into a very partisan and local matter I knew so little about.
I promise to try and deal with this in more detail very soon. But let me say that as far as the process goes, I find the way this was handled by newly elected governor Walker to be disturbingly high-handed, rushed and crude. This Youtube from a furious Democrat helped me see that. It reminded me of the way Tom DeLay used to run the House.
Nonetheless, according to this WSJ piece, and this paper, 24 states already limit or bar collective bargaining by all or some public sector unions, and so I fail to see why this is a national turning point, rather than a regional one. Democratic governor Doug Wilder signed a very similar bill in Virginia in 1993. And Walker was just elected and has a long and well-known record on these matters and appears to have a majority in the newly elected legislature for his stance. That aspect of democracy counts as much as Walker's high-handed treatment of what could and should have been a more orderly process. Ideology and partisanship seem to have triumphed here over orderly debate and discussion. My own conflicted position to come in more detail soon. Promise.
[Note: this has been corrected from its first version half an hour ago, where I stated that 29 states already barred collective bargaining by public sector unions. TPM has a map showing such limitations or bans in a mere sixteen states, something James Joyner doubts. I'll keep trying to get to the bottom of this. Any sources welcome.]
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