The fight for worker rights has dominated the news for the past month, as everyone should know by now (unless you’ve been comatose).
In this regard, I don’t think the Far Out Right had any clue what a nest of hornets they were stirring when they decided to attack working people and their unions. As Robert Creamer notes:
Scott Walker’s plan was a blitzkrieg attack that would catch the opposition with its defenses down, like Germany’s attack on Russia at the beginning of World War II. His goal was to emasculate the ability of public service employees to negotiate with the state over their salaries and working conditions, and begin the destruction of the unions that represent public sector workers all over America.
Wisconsin was to be the first state to fall. Then other states with radical right governors — like Ohio and Indiana — would follow suit.
Well, the first casualty of war is the plan.
So much for the quick lightning strike the Far Out Right hoped for. Instead, hundreds of thousands have been galvanized to oppose these attacks on workers. Mr. Creamer also notes:
For many years, Wall Street and its allies on the right have tried to portray labor as just another “special interest.” The movement that has followed Walker’s outrageous action has redefined the right to collective bargaining for what is — as a moral question, a question of human rights. It has transformed the frame through which ordinary people view the labor movement. Instead of “big labor” focused only on wages and working conditions, it has once again become a “movement” for social and economic justice — a movement that inspires our belief that we can take the future into our own hands — that a truly democratic society is in fact a possibility.
That is what this fight is. A moral fight for working families.
These are not just Robert Creamer’s views. Commentator Robert Kuttner not only agrees, he casts the battle in terms of an awakening by all Americans to the realities of the economic crisis:
At long last, resentment against the economic crisis is beginning to find its natural home, where it always belonged — against financial elites, their privileges and Republican allies. It is dawning on ordinary voters that something is wrong when hedge fund billionaires and investment bankers are making more than ever, while public workers (average Wisconsin pay: $48,000) are being made the scapegoats.
Why did this take so long? For one thing, organizing against this economic collapse was always a challenge because the details of the financial crisis are esoteric. Though the crisis was triggered by deregulation, by the capture of both parties by financial elites, and by reckless greed on Wall Street, the right was able to sow just enough confusion about “deadbeat” sub-prime borrowers and corrupted government guarantors at Fannie Mae as to diffuse culpability.
A Democratic president of the United States, moreover, has been reluctant to point the finger at bankers, and seeks reconciliation with a business elite which claims hurt feelings. So over time, the recession seems like a natural disaster like the extreme weather (which lately is a man-made disaster too, but I digress). Anxious people hunker down rather than taking to the streets. Responsibility is obscured.
Kuttner concludes that the outrage created by the actions of these State Governors reminds us all “that individual, unorganized citizens are largely powerless against the predations of highly organized economic elites.”
Unfortunately, the politicians we tend to support every November, the ones who don’t concur with the Far Out Right in public, have been remiss in speaking out against the shakedown of America that the right has decided to employ. As former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich notes:
The truth that Obama and Democrats must tell is government spending has absolutely nothing to do with high unemployment, declining wages, falling home prices, and all the other horribles that continue to haunt most Americans.
The truth is that while the proximate cause of America’s economic plunge was Wall Street’s excesses leading up to the crash of 2008, it’s underlying cause…is so much income and wealth have been going to the very top that the vast majority no longer has the purchasing power to lift the economy out of its doldrums.
And its for these reasons that the fights in Madison, Indianapolis, Columbus, and other cities across the country are moral fights, fights for fairness and economic justice.