Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Founded by Mark Kleiman (1951-2019)
Governor Walker, Meet Governor Wilson
Like California’s Pete Wilson in 1994, Scott Walker may never recover from his great victory.
Although Scott Walker’s and the Wisconsin Senate Republicans’ move to erase collective bargaining rights is typical of the GOP’s automatic intellectual dishonesty, I must say I have some respect for it.Â Rules matter, and rules are important, but so is policy.Â The GOP is committed to crushing unions; indeed, advancing plutocracy is basically the heart of its agenda.Â I wish that Democrats could be one-half as ruthless in pushing an agenda to help American workers.
But that doesn’t mean that it will work politically over the long run.
This is the sort of thing that might win a battle but lose a war.Â It is so transparently ruthless that it could enrage the opposition in a way that takes the battle to an entirely new level.
It reminds me somewhat of then-Governor Pete Wilson’s transparently ruthless attempt to demonize the undocumented — which as a practical matter meant demonizing Latinos — in 1994.Â It certainly helped him get re-elected as Governor that year after it looked hopeless, although in retrospect he would have won anyway in a very good Republican year.Â But it helped to destroy California’s GOP.Â It drove away a growing Latino plurality from Republicans, perhaps for a generation or more.
I suppose that Walker and the Republicans are thinking that they will take their lumps now, raise millions from American Crossroads and the Kochs, survive enough recalls to keep their majority, and let the thing blow over.Â But will this blow over?Â Or will it so energize Wisconsin workers that the Reagan Democrat will essentially become extinct?Â And if so, will that be enough?
There are a lot more Latinos in California than union members in Wisconsin.Â That must be what smart Wisconsin GOP strategists are counting on.Â But Scott Walker might want to look at his recent California history pretty soon.
Author: Jonathan Zasloff
Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees.
Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses.
Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.
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