Governor Scott Walker
Old regimes die hard and no greater threat exists to the way things are done in this country than Scott Walker. Elected as a Republican governor twice in a formerly blue state, and the victor in a recall attempt, Walker broke the cash nexus between public employee unions and the Democrat party. By making membership in most public employee unions voluntary, he has sent membership figures and dues through the floor and dried up one of the main cash cows for the Democrat party in Wisconsin, and broken the stranglehold the public employees had on the state budget. For this revolutionary act he is enemy number one for the Democrats who view a possible successful run for the Presidency by Walker with the same enthusiasm that vampires have for garlic. The latest non-issue that Democrats have sought to pillory him for, is that he dropped out of college a few credits shy of his BA degree to take a job.
Most Americans of course lack a four year college degree, but it is unusual these days for a high profile politician not to have one. I doubt if it is a political disadvantage since most people I think can distinguish between the wisdom a person possesses, or does not possess, as opposed to the credentials they have. However, Robert Tracinski at The Federalist explains why this non-issue has been seized upon by the Democrats:
There are no real class divisions in America except one: the college-educated versus the non-college educated. It helps to think of this in terms borrowed from the world of a Jane Austen novel: graduating from college is what makes you a “gentleman.” (A degree from an Ivy League school makes you part of the aristocracy.) It qualifies you to marry the right people and hold the right kind of positions. It makes you respectable. And even if you don’t achieve much in the world of work and business, even if you’re still working as a barista ten years later, you still retain that special status. It’s a modern form of “genteel poverty,” which is considered superior to the regular kind of poverty.
If you don’t have a college degree, by contrast, you are looked down upon as a vulgar commoner who is presumptuously attempting to rise above his station. Which is pretty much what they’re saying about Scott Walker. This prejudice is particularly strong when applied to anyone from the right, whose retrograde views are easily attributed to his lack of attendance at the gentleman’s finishing school that is the university.
That brings us to the heart of the matter. I have observed before that left-leaning politics has become “part of the cultural class identity of college-educated people,” a prejudice that lingers long after they have graduated. You can see how this goes the other way, too. If to be college-educated is to have left-leaning views—then to have the “correct” political values, one must be college-educated.
You can see now what is fueling the reaction on the left. If Scott Walker can run for president, he is challenging the basic cultural class identity of the mainstream left. He is more than a threat to the Democrats’ hold on political power. He is a threat to the existing social order. Continue reading
I haven’t discussed the Wisconsin recall vote. It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with my disdain for populism that I find recall elections to be complete shams, and this goes whether the affected officeholder(s) are Democrats or Republicans. Had I been blogging in 2003 I would have said the same for the recall vote that ousted Gray Davis in California. Voters know going into an election that they are voting people into office for a certain amount of time, and they have to live with the consequences of said vote. Barring glaring corruption or malfeasance, elected officials should remain in office for the duration of their terms. If recalls became regular features of the democratic process, elected leaders would never enact meaningful change lest they be booted out of office at the drop of a hat. And while as a society we have grown cynical and jaded regarding politicians, there is something to be said about stability in office. After all, we can vote the bums out every two, four, or six years depending on the office – as the voters in Indiana have done with Senator Richard Lugar, who I believe was first elected shortly after New Hampshire ratified the Constitution.
In the specific case of Wisconsin, the unions have led the effort to boot Governor Scott Walker out of office. It is looking more and more like this will be a futile effort. What’s more, it looks like the DNC has rebuffed requests by the Wisconsin Democrats for help with the election next month. The local Dems asked for $500,000, and so far the DNC has sayed, “NYET!”
Leaving aside your feelings about this recall effort, is this a smart move by the DNC? Yes, there is this little election coming up in November, and the party’s fundraising hasn’t gone as spectacularly as hoped. And even though the polls have been close, it is a better than 50/50 proposition that Scott Walker holds onto his seat. It would arguably be better for the Democrats to funnel their resources where they are needed, like potentially closer than originally thought House elections in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District.*
*Okay, that might be the thing of fevered fantasies, but you never know.
That being said, a Democratic victory in June would be a colossal shot in the arm for the party. Polls indicate that President Obama has a very narrow lead over Mitt Romney in Wisconsin, and this is certainly a state that Republicans could capture in November. I wouldn’t suggest that there is a direct correlation between the recall election in June and the general election in November, but it doesn’t hurt (usually) to have the incumbent governor campaigning for the presidential candidate. By bypassing this election the Democrats could be hurting Obama’s chances in the state later on in the year.