June 6, 2012
by Ronald Radosh
The victory of Governor Scott Walker has produced a surfeit of irrationality in the ranks of the American Left, who are trying their best to spin the recall outcome to prove that they were always correct. Here is what they are saying.
At Huff Post, the activist professor and major ACORN supporter Peter Dreier has the answer that is easiest for their troops to produce, since it takes little real logic and hard analysis of the vote: the Koch Brothers bought the outcome. No tough analysis of the factors others look at, as Dreier notes, "examining exit polls, spilling lots of ink over how different demographic groups — income, race, religious, union membership, gender, party affiliation, independents, liberals/conservatives/moderates, etc — voted on Tuesday." It's just not necessary.
It's all about "Big Money," and the only loser was not Tom Barrett, "but democracy." Citing Walker's big win — 53% to 46% — which of course cannot be denied, Dreier attributes the Walker victory to the $23 he spent for each vote he received, while Barrett only spent $3.47.
And even worse, he argues, this does not reflect the ads paid for by out-of-state billionaires, who he argues "bought this election for Walker."
If you want a cartoon version of the argument — even though the case made by Dreier is itself a cartoon — you can find it at History News Network in the graphic produced by activist professor (yes, another one of that breed whose salary pays for their leftist activity) Joshua Brown.
These representatives of the people do not seem to comprehend how their argument shows little confidence in the ability of the average Joe — whom they claim to represent — to understand their own needs, and make wise decisions on that basis. Dreier and Brown are in effect saying that the people are so dumb that TV commercials paid for by the Koch brothers are enough to produce an outcome contrary to their own interests. (Dreier does not know, evidently, that the Koch brothers favor decriminalization of marijuana and same sex marriage, causes he probably supports himself. Maybe they are responsible for Obama's sudden turn on that last issue.)
Or, the people are dumb. Yet they do not make that argument when their side wins electoral contests and billionaires like George Soros make greater contributions than the Koch Brothers ever made to produce victories for leftists. They did not make that argument when, a few years back, former Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey ran the most expensive election in that state's history, spending his own fortune to assure his election. When that happens, they declare only that the people choose wisely.
So Dreier ends repeating himself, over and over. If you didn't get his point, he tells you again: "In other words, business and billionaires bought this election for Walker." He didn't make that argument in 2008, when Obama outspent John McCain by millions.
What the Dreier-Brown argument shows is how bankrupt the Left is in its ability to comprehend reality. As I and others pointed out earlier, Scott Walker succeeded in Wisconsin. He has lowered property taxes, saved teachers from being fired, exposed the shell game practiced by public sector unions, improved the economy and fiscal standing of his state, and generally proved to be a popular reform governor. Chris Christie has noted,
There is a divide between private and public-sector unions that Republicans can benefit from if we convince those whose livelihood depends on economic growth and job creation that we can bring that to them.
That divide, as Seth Lipsky points out in The New York Sun, is "for the same reason that communism didn't work… a zero-sum game that pits labor against everyone else. It's a fight that labor, like the communists, can only lose." Walker's fight was not against unions per se, as Lipsky notes, but only against that sector of the labor movement — public sector unions — that is reactionary to the core. Labor can be, as it has in the past, a bastion of a free society, working with management to increase productivity and growth that benefits the working-stiff.
Lipsky goes on to note that a free labor movement can be a pillar of strength in a democratic society, and he reminds us that Sarah Palin — yes the detested VP candidate in 2008 — reminded the Republican convention that her husband was "a proud member of the United Steel Workers" and that she herself was a union member when she was a telephone company dispatcher.
The fight, then, is not against organized labor but rather the outworn and elite labor groups who benefit from the hard work of everyone else — including their brethren in the private sector. And even public workers seem to get this, since once Walker's reforms went into effect, so many of them chose with their pocketbooks to drop union membership.
So the Left is wrong. John Nichols at The Nation is wrong when he writes that "Walker's economic policies didn't work. But his advertisements did." Ben Adler is wrong when he writes that the Walker victory,
merely shows that the unlimited spending unleashed by the Republican appointees on the Supreme Court has given Republicans a tremendous spending advantage and that does make a difference.
So that is their simple answer: The Republicans spent more. They can ignore everything else that stands in the way of their inability to see why they were defeated. Every left-wing site makes that point alone, and repeats it endlessly. They have no other explanation.
No wonder. As the Left sees things, they are correct and represent the real people. When those they claim to speak for vote against them, the only reaction they have is bewilderment. And so they come up with one answer their followers can understand — the rich bought the outcome.
If they are right, the American people are stupid. Perhaps the electorate knows something the Left does not. But don't expect them to grasp that simple truth.
Ronald Radosh is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute; Prof. Emeritus of History at the City University of New York, and the author of many books, including "The Rosenberg File;" "Divided They Fell: The Demise of the Democratic Party, 1964-1996," and most recently, "Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left."
Home | Learn About Hudson | Hudson Scholars | Find an Expert | Support Hudson | Contact Information | Site Map
Policy Centers | Research Areas | Publications & Op-Eds | Hudson Bookstore
Hudson Institute, Inc. 1015 15th Street, N.W. 6th Floor Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202.974.2400 Fax: 202.974.2410 Email the Webmaster
© Copyright 2013 Hudson Institute, Inc.