Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wisconsin Vote Challenges Liberals In Citizens United Era

Commenting on Gov. Scott Walker's victory in Wisconsin, Frank Rich said, "Walker outspent Barrett, his Democratic opponent, exponentially, much of it coming from some of the outside-the-state sugar daddies I wrote about back then: Bob Perry, Foster Friess, David Koch. They got what they paid for, a big defeat for organized labor, a symbolic defeat for Democrats, and a victory for a world view in which unions, government regulation, and taxation are all nuisances that should be stamped out so that Ayn Rand vulture capitalism can triumph unimpeded."

The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision opened the floodgates of cash from the likes of Perry, Friess and the Koch brothers, decisively corrupting our political system. Would Walker have won anyway? It's impossible to tell. It seems equally impossible, however, for a candidate like opponent Tom Barrett to win facing a seven to one gap in campaign cash, the majority flooding in from out-of-state.

Regardless of such speculation, consider the consequences of the Walker win. Karl Rove's Crossroads group has gained a tremendous boost in pursuing its right-wing ad campaigns. Unions have suffered a tremendous setback in their influence. Republican governors in other states are encouraged to pursue an anti-union agenda. As Rachel Maddow explained, the unions conceded to Walker's demands, yet he still went after their collective bargaining rights. Walker even admitted, under questioning by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), that his union-busting bill had no effect on the state budget. Unions, however, are the last bastion of Democratic financial support. Membership in public employee unions in Wisconsin has declined since Walker's law went into effect. We see the ultimate goal: decimate the unions, remove them as the major source of Democratic contributions and all that will be left are the big corporate spenders who back the Republicans.

Public financing of elections is not being debated and the overturning Citizens United is a distant goal. Wisconsin showed liberals, progressives and Democrats that they'll have to develop new strategies to deal with the formidable challenges posed by Citizens United.

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