Wisconsin’s Window of Opportunity

Last week’s exit polls were off by so much that throwing a dart while blindfolded might have more accurately predicted the results of Gov. Walker’s Wisconsin race.  However, now that it is over, along with similar votes in San Jose and San Diego, CA that introduced balance into public sector union strong-arming, I would like to step back and take a broader perspective.

To the best of my knowledge, citizenship is no longer taught in schools.  The concept of good citizenship is easy to pervert, for example by suggesting that a good citizen turns in his neighbor for driving in the carpool lane with fewer than the required number of passengers. Doing so makes one a snitch and government stoolie, not a good citizen. Being a good citizen means learning, understanding and upholding the principles upon which the society is built, even –and here is the important point –when they do not benefit the individual doing so.

My husband and I have a friend who attended university in a liberal center of the country, populated by many students. When rent control was on the ballot, he would have saved substantial sums on housing if that type of legislation passed.  Nonetheless, he understood that rent control usurps private property rights and eventually destroys communities. It helps a few (frequently not those who are touted as the beneficiaries) at the expense of harming society in general along with mocking the foundational values of the country. For these reasons, he voted against the law, while the majority of his classmates looked only at how much more cash they would have available, and voted for it. His admirable vote was that of a good citizen.

When it became clear that the electorate in Wisconsin supported Gov. Walker, I was relieved. That vote is a bright spot in a rather dismal picture. The retention of a competent governor and a message to union bosses is certainly a good step. If the vote was the result of the majority understanding the fundamental principles involved rather than simply expressing frustration with a poor economy, the cause for optimism would be far greater.

I don’t claim vast historical knowledge. Nevertheless, it seems to me that Americans respond so emotionally to injustice that they often alleviate one difficulty while germinating another. Was it unacceptable that early presidents and retired civil servants lived in poverty during our country’s younger days? Yes.  Are current presidential and congressional pensions and perks (with Congress voting for its own benefits) stratospheric and unjust to the citizenry? Yes.

Did some (not all) businesses take unconscionable advantage of those seeking employment? Yes. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and subsistence wages at some companies were real. Has the power that was granted to unions in response to those horrors ceased being the solution and become a hindrance to economic progress? Yes.

Are there serious flaws in the American health care system? Yes. Will Obamacare solve the problems ensuring a first-rate medical system available to all? Not a chance.

The examples of well-intentioned legislation transforming into predatory, monstrous and destructive malignancies that damage both individuals and society, are plentiful. Last week’s resounding votes suggest that now is the time for education. With increasing numbers acknowledging the failure of liberal policies, people are open to understanding core truths about how successful societies operate. If all that happens next November is that Republicans are elected, America will probably be better off in the short-term, but a unique opportunity will have been squandered. One way we will know how transformational the next few months are is by seeing whether the candidates’ abilities extend beyond being elected. Can they take advantage of a rare moment in time and dramatically and convincingly articulate a vision of truth that runs counter to the direction this country has followed, for which both political parties and shortsighted citizens share the blame? Are Mr. Romney and other office-seekers worthy of representing my rent-control-opposed friend? Let us keep them accountable as well as pray that they are.



4 thoughts on “Wisconsin’s Window of Opportunity”

  1. Thank you, Mrs. Lapin, for being so clear-sighted. One of the problems that we have today — aside from the “give it to me because I deserve it just ‘cuz I’m alive mentality — is how people have been taught (yes, taught)to take the short-term view on everything. They would rather foregoe something major that they could get next week or next year, in lieu of something small or petty they could get today.
    I appreciate your insights, (as well as your husband’s): please keep them coming!

  2. Once again Mrs. Lapin is right on target.
    I have in principle no objection to the concept of the trade union, as conceived to fight for fair treatment of the worker. But those days have long gone, those battles long won, and protection of the worker is no longer the objective of the union. The unions today are all about mob rule: we are now big and powerful enough to tell them all what to do! This phenomenon is comparable to a genuine democracy: two wolves and a sheep deciding who’s for dinner.
    The individual is a vanishing breed. The unionists and the party that panders to them seem to have lost essential humanity. Individualism is lost where the human being must have been crossed with the lemming, whose herd instinct leads them to plunge blindly over a cliff onto the rocks below. Climb on the bandwagon, follow the leader and gimme, gimme, gimme.
    The governmental upper class seems quite similar: an elected insider elite feathering its own nest with lifetime benefits. Presidents, senators and congressmen, once elected, receive steady sinecures for life and numerous miscellaneous fringe benefits. Join the herd and gimme, gimme, gimme. In the days of iconic Roman Cincinnatus serving one’s country was an honor, a duty and usually a grave personal sacrifice, but today it is hitching a ride on the gravy train. Isn’t this ironic? These folks need no benefits. For today only one who is already a rich plutocrat can run for office and be taken seriously, much less succeed in winning the nomination. A man with empty pockets like Abe Lincoln will never garner the media support to make it to square one.

  3. Thank you for being patriots. I have been uplifted at hearing how many government employees voted for Gov. Walker, and by extension, for this country’s future.
    Susan Lapin

  4. Thank you for your “musings.” I appreciate both you and your husband’s thoughts and follow them regularly. Our family can relate to the idea of voting for principle over pocketbook. Because we are a one income family (I stay home to educate the children), any “cuts” into our income are felt significantly. Gov. Walker’s reforms have directly affected our bottom line because my husband is a state worker, yet we believe they were a good thing for our state and, ultimately, our country. I believe we are to set an example for others who have already had to “tighten their belt” or for those who will need to do so further in the future. The sacrifice our family has made is incredibly minute compared to that of our Founding Fathers who literally pledged their life, their liberty, and their honor (and their money) to help secure freedom for many generations.

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