Wisconsin Politics: A Story Filled with Love and Rage

POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

–Ambrose Bierce


I have been a loyal supporter of President Obama. He has disappointed me on any number of issues and the promises unkept: the continued use of drones, the continuation of Guantanamo Bay  detention center, the early agreement with the major pharmaceuticals, and so forth. The President’s recent statements about Wisconsin’s ‘right to work’ law have thoroughly annoyed me.

The Wisconsin Daily Independent reports:

In response to Governor Walker’s signing the Right to Work bill that was passed overwhelmingly by both the Assembly and Senate in Wisconsin in recent weeks, President Obama today stated he was “deeply disappointed” and went on to declare the law “anti-worker”. Obama continued to say that the law in Wisconsin will weaken workers and that Governor Walker should take meaningful action as it pertains to his state.

The WDI article goes on to quote pro-Walker defenders, who seem to merely muddy the issue all around.  My beef, however, is not with them (right now), but with the President.

The 2008 Obama/Biden campaign made the following promise:

Ensure Freedom to Unionize: Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that workers should have the freedom to choose whether to join a union without harassment or intimidation from their employers. Although an estimated 60 million Americans would join a union if given the opportunity, companies too often deny workers the opportunity to organize and improve their lives. Obama and Biden cosponsored and are strong advocates for the Employee Free Choice Act, a bipartisan effort to assure that workers can exercise their right to organize and secure initial agreements with their employers. The act requires employers to recognize a union if the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) finds that a majority of employees have signed cards designating the union as its bargaining representative (a “card check”), mandates arbitration if negotiations over a first contract stall, and imposes penalties on employers that illegally coerce workers not to join unions. As president, Obama will continue to work for EFCA’s passage and sign it into law.

This is a promise in writing. I heard Obama myself say in public that if states begin to attack workers and workers’ right, he would lock arms with workers and march in protest with them. Well, in 2010, I and another 100,000 workers (comprised of firefighters, teachers, circuit court judges, sheriffs and other public employees) marched and protested in Madison for weeks. Obama’s voice was never heard.

When these outraged workers managed an unheard of recall against Governor Walker, Obama did next to nothing to aid the candidacy of Walker’s opponent.

We Wisconsinites had a chance to oust the most venal and puppet-like of governors, but we needed help to fight of the large-money operations of the Koch brothers and other conservative billionaires. The White House offered virtually nothing, but it did ask for the protesters’ mailing addresses for the next presidential campaign.

For President Obama to criticise Walker’s policies now is too little, too late.

Mr. President, I gave you my votes. I handed out leaflets for you and did letter drops.