From parliamentary intrigue to popular contestation

Once Wisconsin’s Republican Senators made hash out of parliamentary procedure to cleave the union-busting component of Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill, it seems as though the Wisconsin GOP had triumphed over their partisan and popular adversaries. The Senators even included no-strike by public employee measures in the new bill. Their will and that of Governor Walker appeared firm as police — but not the Wisconsin National Guard! — began to remove protesters from the antechamber to the Assembly while permitting entry into the Capitol Building through an entrance that included weapons screening. Despite their having to face this repression, the demonstrators refused to yield. The New York Times now reports that:

As thousands of demonstrators converged on the Capitol, the police cut off access to the building on Thursday, creating a taut atmosphere in which Republican State Assembly members were seeking to maintain order long enough to vote on a bill that sharply curtails bargaining rights for government workers.

The State Assembly had been scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday morning. Though it is virtually certain to pass, it was now unclear when that vote might take place.

So, the protest campaign continues. Meanwhile, the demonstrators, their supporters and their opponents can only wait for the appearance of the legal challenges to this bill, challenges which will come soon enough.


Wisconsin’s State Assembly finished its nasty chore and passed the anti-union bill 53-42. Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, expressed well the absurdity of the moment when he claimed: “‘It will show to people in Wisconsin and throughout the country that we are not afraid to make hard decisions’.” Let us hope that over the coming months that members of the Wisconsin GOP will have many occasions to display their brave nature.

Cross-posted at FireDogLake

Reactionary Republicans and their hatred of social and political solidarity

Writing for the Nation, Ilyse Hogue succinctly makes a point that, to my mind, cannot be repeated or reemphasized often enough:

For the past two weeks, all eyes have been glued to Madison, Wisconsin. The collective and joyful resistance to Governor Scott Walker’s power-grabbing budget bill has inspired the demoralized progressive base and put the corporate-backed assault on working people front and center in the national conversation.

But while it’s obvious that the right wing is out to break the back of the progressive movement, it’s easy to miss the strategy that guides their selection of specific targets. Their attacks are all carefully aimed at the same critical juncture: institutions that work for people in their daily lives and in the political arena, those that connect people’s personal struggles across the country to the political struggle in Washington. Once we recognize the critical role these progressive service organizations play in building progressive politics, the right’s broader strategy in Wisconsin and elsewhere becomes clear. Scott Walker is a soldier in the same army as James O’ Keefe and Lila Rose, the right-wing video pranksters who tried to smear ACORN and Planned Parenthood.

The rightwing in America, Ms. Hogue suggests, does not merely want to defeat the progressives, to win this or that battle or destroy just one or two organizations. Rather, the goal pursued by the reactionary right in the United States targets those social institutions which produce social goods and a popular politics meant to serve the interests specific to every America citizen. This is the gist of Ms. Hogue’s article. She expresses it by identifying the rightwing attack on two forms of solidarity: Social solidarity and political solidarity.

  1. Social solidarity refers to the provisions of those services and goods individuals need because America’s system of markets has failed to provide for those needs.
  2. Political solidarity refers to those institutions meant to represent the interests of the individuals whom are unable to pursue and defend effectively their interests whether as individuals or as members of a group.

    The right, then, wants to reduce its opponents to a needy, voiceless and powerless mass. And it is the nature of this very project that reveals the radical and reactionary character of the right in the United States today. Sadly, the evils of totalitarianism can be found in this reactionary project, a project which begins with the dehumanization of the ‘other’ and ends with….

    As Kevin Zeese put the matter moments ago: “Wisconsin is ground zero for the race to the bottom.” At this time, contesting the rightwing project begins there. But the Wisconsin conflict will not be the only skirmish in this struggle.

    Cross-posted at FireDogLake