If Obama or congressional Democrats now put a card-check bill high on their agenda, they will risk a "Ritter moment" that would damage their relations with moderates and the business community. That's what happened to Gov. Bill Ritter in 2007 when a bill gutting long-standing rules limiting "union shops" in the Colorado Peace Act hurtled through the legislature with little public input.
Ritter rightly vetoed that bill, but the move angered his labor supporters. Later that year, the governor tried to make amends by granting limited collective-bargaining rights to state employees. That move, in turn, alienated much of the business community. This year's wholly avoidable fights over a right-to- work initiative and four anti-business initiatives that labor later withdrew all followed.
The Colorado squabbles weren't worth it. Whatever benefits labor might have gained by disrupting a decades-long accord with business were far outweighed by the disruption these duels caused.