I watched the Wisconsin returns on MSNBC Tuesday night, and it came right down to the wire between "the Democrats were outspent 7-to-1" and "Republicans are stripping union rights!" As we go to press it's still too close to call.
President Obama wanted to go to Wisconsin, but he just didn't have time. He's been doing so many campaign fundraisers lately he barely has time to play golf.
The left's "outspent" argument is ridiculous. Unions take money by force from members, hire hundreds of political operatives and give them salaries to work on campaigns, then call them "volunteers" so their work isn't reported as a campaign contribution.
Luckily for them, government employees' non-punishing work schedules leave them plenty of time to be in a constant state of grievance, demanding recalls after any election they lose, and mobilizing voters.
This election had nothing to do with people being paid a fair wage for the work they do. The question is: Do you want a society where the people whose salaries you pay make more than those who pay them?
The Democrats will do anything the government unions ask, because (1) It's not their money they're spending, it's the taxpayers'; and (2) Government unions reciprocate by making sure the Democrats keep getting re-elected.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is about to turn New York into Pottersville from "It's a Wonderful Life" by legalizing gambling so he can keep paying the unions.
All manufacturing has been driven out of the state by high taxes -- and by well-compensated government employees who make it impossible to do business in New York. The state's principal cash cow, New York City, is now entirely composed of a tiny slice of Wall Streeters and the people who serve them -- personal trainers, doormen, maids, doctors, lawyers, restaurateurs and Keith Olbermann's cat groomer.
Outside of New York City, everyone works for the government. But there's no actual industry in the state. People are fleeing New York faster than Democrat legislators fled Wisconsin before a vote they were going to lose.
Soon it will be just another mid-range, dying state. If the financial sector ever leaves, New York City will be Detroit, which itself was once the nation's crown jewel metropolis.
So Cuomo's going to bring in casinos to save public sector salaries, perks and pensions. Democrats don't care that gambling destroys neighborhoods and ruins lives. They will do anything to keep government employees happy. They'll legalize drugs or sell body parts to keep paying off public sector workers.
There's a reason both FDR and labor leader George Meany said it would be insane to ever allow government employees to unionize. People who work for the government don't have a hard-driving capitalist boss on the other side of the bargaining table demanding more work for less pay.
No one is worried about the profit margin because there is no profit -- it's government! Rather, the only people on the other side of the table are the unions' co-conspirators: Democratic politicians willing to spend the public treasury on union members, who will repay the politicians by mobilizing voters.
This is why Walker's victory Tuesday night was an amazing, miraculous, transformative event in the history of the nation.
Even the Terminator couldn't beat the government unions. In the dumbest move ever made by a politician, in 2005, two years into Arnold Schwarzenegger's first term, he called an off-year special election to enact a few minuscule reductions in public-sector union perks, such as making it humanly possible to fire bad teachers.
Even in a normal election year, initiatives curbing government employees' boondoggles are nearly impossible to get past the powerful unions.
But worse -- as in Wisconsin -- this was an off-year election. Unlike Wisconsin, however, it was Schwarzenegger's idea to hold a special election on the advice of his political consultant, Mike Murphy, the Bob Shrum of the Republicans.
Let's see, who would be likely to vote in an off-year election? We're going to cut your exorbitant benefits, require you to work, and make it easier to fire you, public employees. Do you have any interest in voting on that?
Anyone with half a brain could see disaster coming from a mile away. Even with the language barrier, Arnold should have seen it coming.
Within weeks, Tony Quinn, a California Republican consultant, stated categorically: "The governor needs to cancel this special election, regardless of the political cost, because he's headed for a huge political defeat."
But Schwarzenegger's adviser, Murphy, was brimming with confidence, dazzled by the governor's celebrity status. He gloated, "He's still Arnold Schwarzenegger." (Murphy never saw "Twins.")
Public sector unions spent a jaw-dropping $80 million to defeat Schwarzenegger's initiatives, portraying the governor as the enemy of cops, teachers, firefighters and "people like us."
Mike Murphy: "I am confident we will win."
In the end, union members turned out in droves on Election Day, defeating every single initiative. Everyone else in California woke up the next day and said, "Hey, did you know there was an election yesterday?"
The failure of Schwarzenegger's propositions ended his governorship. From that day on, he became the Democrats' plaything.
The 2010 census marks the first time California has lost population since it became a state.
The decision to call an off-year special election to roll back public employees' perks will long be remembered as the all-time stupidest idea in political history. One hundred years from now it will still be studied at the Kennedy School of Government.
Wisconsin made history in a different way Tuesday night. As Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch said, the recall election will go down in the record books as the night "the campaign to save America" began.