Free Markets, Free People
In the Wisconsin recall election last night, Gov. Scott Walker and Lt Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch jumped to an early lead and never relinquished it, beating their Democratic rivals by 7 points, 53% to 46% and 6 points respectively. 3 of the 4 Republican state senators held their seats with one headed to recount.
Of course given the spin up to the vote, the left was pretty sure that it was a very close race and that they’d squeak out a win because, well, they were the left, for heaven sake and their cause was true and just … or something.
In the end the results left some pretty bitter lefties as seen here with this drama queen:
Of course instead of what this crybaby says, what happened last night was precisely the opposite of what he contends. Democracy didn’t “die” last night, it actually did what it was supposed to do. The unions and Democrats attempted to redress their grievances against the governor, succeeded in getting a recall election and lost.
That’s exactly how the system is supposed to work. Sorry, no guarantee on the outcome.
It also brought out one of the funniest and perhaps stupidest examples of trying to spin/distraction I’ve seen:
You can’t make this stuff up. And of course, watching Ed Schultz melt down on live TV was the treat of the night.
On a more serious note, Josh Marshall at TPM published his thoughts immediately after the results were certain:
These are bad times for incumbents across the country and, frankly, around the world. A governor convincingly (we still don’t know the exact margin) winning a recall election is a big deal. Victory counts. There’s no getting around that.
That’s exactly the opposite that Alec McGillis was trying to contend yesterday. And, Marshall is correct. It is anti-incumbent fever which has been the feature of the past few elections. So surviving a recall and actually doing better than he did the first time? Significant.
Marshall goes on:
This is also a big loss for public employees unions. There’s no getting around that fact. Just why that happened is another matter. But at the end of the day, victory is all that matters. Walker went big to destroy the public sector unions in his state. And the labor movement went all out to take him down and lost. Wisconsin’s a pretty progressive, fairly blue-ish state. This result in this state has to embolden Republican governors across the country to think you can go for game-changing attacks on key Democratic constituencies like labor and not pay a price at the polls. Public employees unions across the country have feel like they have crosshairs on their backs. And they do.
I don’t think you can spin this any other way.
But, as we see with the lame Axelrod tweet, attempts to do so will be fairly common on the left. Already it is “we were outspent” instead of voters just flat rejected their recall effort. And, no denying it, pubic service unions lost big.
I think Marshall was fairly stunned by the result and in a burst of shocked honesty, laid out the real results. I look for he and many others to be much more guarded and circumspect today. I also expect a lot of whistling past the graveyard from them.
The loss in WI is remarkable for the size of the gap between Walker and Barrett. And as usual the left is shocked at the outcome. Because, one supposes, they actually believed they were close to winning given the polling and coverage:
Walker can’t seem to break his 50 percent ceiling of support among Wisconsin voters. His ballot support has hovered at either 50 percent or 49 percent in 12 of the 14 polls released since early May, and recent polls show the race tightening in the final stretch.
“We’re very much anticipating that there’s a chance that we could be in a recount scenario,” said Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. He said the party will have more than 440 lawyers in the field on Tuesday “doing election protection activities but also tasked with recount preparation, making sure that we know where absentee ballots are at, making sure that we have a strong handle on what’s happening out there.”
But other than the one State Senate race, none of the other races ended up anywhere near recount territory and were instead dramatic and resounding victories for the incumbents.
I bring the polling up for a reason. It is a way the left is going to console themselves and try to convince themselves that the outcome in WI has no national meaning. Marshall goes on in his immediate reaction to provide the example:
For all the ominous things this election said for labor movement and Dems, I don’t buy that this tells us a lot about President Obama’s fate in Wisconsin or across the country. Why? Look no further than the polls. Tonight’s exit polls showed that President Obama would win handily with this electorate. Indeed, all the polls leading up to this vote showed Walker winning by a solid margin and President Obama winning by an even solider margin.
Right – the polling. It was dead on, wasn’t it? And the exit polling in particular was so … accurate.
Last Marshall quote of significance, because I touch on it quite often and it does point to something I feel is of tremendous importance:
Why weren’t the anti-Walker forces able to sustain those numbers? That’s an important question I don’t think we have an answer to. Enthusiasm is critical. But enthusiasm and passion is evanescent if it doesn’t live within robust institutions. Which brings us back to the power (or lack thereof) of the union movement and public impressions of it. Why Walker ceased to be unpopular is the big question here.
Why? Because results matter and what Walker was able to do is show positive results with his agenda. And, more importantly, he accomplished them in enough time for them to be obvious to the voters. Secondly, 60% of the voters apparently felt the recall system was misused in this case, citing “misconduct” as the only reason it should be used. Obviously they didn’t feel this constituted misconduct.
Finally, it appears that while the enthusiasm of a core of union members remained high (like the guy in the video), the movement wasn’t able to sustain that enthusiasm less involved in the recall effort. Whereas the Walker side was able to motivate voters to turn out for him.
That quiet enthusiasm that manifests itself in the voters is what the left doesn’t understand. And apparently it is something the polls don’t catch. Most voters aren’t these simple animals that are susceptible to spin and appeals to class warfare. They’re much more complex than that, able to weigh arguments and make decisions based on what they see and how they see it in terms of results. Walker produced results. The voters, last night, endorsed them.
Democracy didn’t die last night, it got a transfusion and is well on its way to recovery.
Not that the left is at all happy about that.
Update: About that “we were outspent” meme:
Much of the money for the race has come from out of state. About $63 million has been spent on the race so far, including $16 million from conservative groups such as the Republican Governors Association, Americans for Prosperity and the National Rifle Association. The majority of Walker’s donations are from people outside Wisconsin.
Democratic groups – including those funded by unions, the Democratic Governors Association and the Democratic National Committee – have poured in about $14 million, based on a tally from the government watchdog group the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Barrett’s $4.2 million in donations, meanwhile, were mostly from inside Wisconsin.
That is precisely the take that Josh Marshall and much of the left have, amusingly, expressed:
A year ago, no one took seriously the idea that a federal health care mandate was unconstitutional. And the idea that buying health care coverage does not amount to "economic activity" seems preposterous on its face.
I’m not sure how Marshall actually believes "no one" took seriously the idea that the health care mandate was unconstitutional, unless he really means "no one who matters". And even then he’s wrong. So let’s boil it down to its real meaning – no one on the left, who consistently ignore the Constitution and matters relating to constitutionality, took the idea seriously.
I’m shocked – shocked I tell you.
Obviously a whole lot of people in the middle and on the right took it very seriously. So much so that at least a plurality of states have initiated law suits against it and/or passed laws rejecting it.
Marshall also claims that the “idea that buying health care coverage does not amount to "economic activity" seems preposterous on its face.” Uh, OK, who exactly is claiming that? What is being discussed is not buying insurance. And the decision to not buy something has nothing to do with “economic activity” does it? So let’s turn Marshall’s sentence around: “the idea that not buying health care coverage does amount to “economic activity” seems preposterous on its face”.
Yes, I would agree – and so did Judge Hudson.
Speaking of Judge Hudson, Richard Epstein gives a pretty good summary of the key point in his ruling:
The key successful move for Virginia was that it found a way to sidestep the well known 1942 decision of the Supreme Court in Wickard v. Filburn, which held in effect that the power to regulate commerce among the several states extended to decisions of farmers to feed their own grain to their own cows. Wickard does not pass the laugh test if the issue is whether it bears any fidelity to the original constitutional design. It was put into place for the rather ignoble purpose of making sure that the federally sponsored cartel arrangements for agriculture could be properly administered.
At this point, no District Court judge dare turn his back on the ignoble and unprincipled decision in Wickard. But Virginia did not ask for radical therapy. It rather insisted that “all” Wickard stands for is the proposition that if a farmer decides to grow wheat, he cannot feed it to his own cows if a law of Congress says otherwise. It does not say that the farmer must grow wheat in order that the federal government will have something to regulate.
It is just that line that controls this case. The opponents of the individual mandate say that they do not have to purchase insurance against their will. The federal government may regulate how people participate in the market, but it cannot make them participate in the market. For if it could be done in this case it could be done in all others.
Read all of Epstein’s opinion piece by the way. There’s a lot more to this than just the point I made and he explains it very well. The usual suspects disagree.
Anyway, assuming this somehow stands and makes it to the Supreme Court, where after a good breakfast and a good night’s sleep Justice Anthony Kennedy decides “what the hell, Judge Hudson is right” and the court rules the mandate unconstitutional, what would be the ramifications?
Without the individual mandate, the whole Obamacare edifice crumbles. The judge did not rule that the entire law must be invalidated. But if the individual mandate goes, the insurance regulations — and most especially the requirement that insurers must take all comers without regard to their health status — will never work. Patients could simply wait to enroll in health coverage until they needed some kind of expensive treatment or procedure, and thus pocket the premiums they would have paid when they were not in need of much medical attention.
Or said more simply – without the mandate the whole of the law is unworkable. Without the mandate, repeal will seem to be the best option.
Oh, and watch the GOP on that point. When it was first passed, all I heard was “repeal, repeal”. Now I’m hearing “repeal and replace”. Uh, no – no “replace”. Fix the government side of things that are in such horrendous shape and driving the cost of health care up, but stay out of people’s private insurance.
And should repeal actually happen the insurance industry better get their heads out of their posterior and get busy finding ways to insure more people more cheaply (like creating products where employers could indeed move their workers to that would be outside the work place making insurance portable (thus no “pre-existing conditions”), affordable (large pool) and deliver quality care. Because, as is obvious, if they don’t someone will again try to do it for them.