What the Union Fight is Really About: Defunding the Left - 2011-03-25
When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took on his state's public-sector unions last January, it seemed to require no explanation. Republicans are sympathetic to corporate interests and opposed to organized labor, and challenging public-sector workers' pay and benefits appeared to be just one more skirmish in a longstanding ideological battle.
But Walker went one crucial step further. He deliberately sparked a dangerous, months-long war by proposing to end the public-sector unions' collective bargaining rights entirely. Why take that risk?
Here's why: Politics in the United States is a game played on multiple levels, and ideology is only the first. Walker was playing on a second, deeper level, where the issues are secondary. Here, the goal is not so much to advance one party's agenda, but to actively undermine the infrastructure that allows the opposing party to exist at all. And on this level, one of America's two political parties routinely outplays the other: Defunding the left is a longtime goal of the smartest and savviest Republican strategists, and they've pursued it for decades.