“Walker clearly does not want to let a ‘crisis go to waste.’ His aim is to dismantle … the dysfunctional, circular relationship between unionized government employees, the politicians they help elect, and the rising wages and benefits to which they commit government. In Walker’s view, only such structural reform can prevent the ratchet effect that that will start up again once the economy regains it footing…
“If successful, Walker’s plan may put Wisconsin on a course to become more like Texas or Virginia (two states that weathered the recession relatively well), where most collective bargaining in the public sector is illegal and the percentage of unionized public employees is paltry. His hope is that in the future, Wisconsin will have as bright a fiscal outlook as those states.”
“That’s why the GOP confrontation with labor marks something far more meaningful than the typical policy changes that accompany a switch from Republican to Democratic governance. Instead, it represents a violent break with a bipartisan consensus about government workers that has operated unquestioned for four decades in union-friendly states from California to Michigan to New York.
“‘The moderate Republicans of the 1960s were totally accommodating to unions,’ said E.J. McMahon, a senior fellow at the conservative Empire Center in Albany, N.Y., who cited Michigan Gov. George Romney and New York’s Nelson Rockefeller, who shepherded through that state’s law extending collective bargaining to state workers. ‘This was the governing consensus up to this crisis.’…
“‘I never tried to change the rules,’ said former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, a moderate Republican, who recalled in an interview that union members picketed his home in the negotiations over his first budget in the recession of the early 1980s. ‘I had a confrontation, but nothing like Christie’s.'”
“Union leaders insist they were blindsided.
“‘There wasn’t any belief he was going to go for the nuclear option,’ said Gary Steffen, president of the Wisconsin Science Professionals, the union that represents state scientists, including crime lab analysts, biologists, chemists and foresters. ‘We expected concessions, but we just didn’t think there was a mandate for this. We didn’t see him getting rid of collective bargaining.’…
“Grebe, Walker’s longtime friend, said he has been in regular contact with the governor since the protests started and he believes the activity is only reinforcing his belief the bill is the right way to go.
“‘I don’t think it has affected his resolve at all,’ Grebe said. ‘He is committed to this.'”
“As the excerpt, and the highlighted material makes clear, Walker has been an open book as a politician. He has never tried to disguise his stance on the issues of the day, and if it can be said that ‘[u]nions have always been his piñata, over and over,’ then one can hardly be taken by surprise by his stance on unions in general, or on public sector unions in particular.
“And despite–or because of–this stance, the voters of Wisconsin elected him Governor in 2010, with a 6 point, 124,000-plus vote margin between himself and his opponent. Not a landslide, but not inconsequential either, especially given the fact that Walker has not shied away from stating clearly his public policy views. In doing so, the voters not only elected Walker, they endorsed his views, views he clearly articulated throughout his career in public life.”
“According to Wisconsin law, voters can recall any elected official in the state, as long as they’ve been in office for at least a year. This process involves collecting signatures for a recall position and then holding an election with the incumbent against any other candidates who jump in. As ThinkProgress’ Ian Millhiser has reported, there are eight Republicans who could currently be recalled…
“‘Recall Walker’ is a popular chant amongst protesters in Madison, although Walker just took office in 2011 and therefore is not eligible to go through the process yet. (Most protesters who talked with The Huffington Post admitted that they knew about this technicality but wanted to join in the chanting anyway.)
“But that doesn’t mean labor leaders aren’t already thinking about recalling Walker when it’s time.
“‘We would do it now,’ said AFSCME President Gerald McEntee in a phone interview with The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein, ‘but we don’t have the opportunity because he has to be in there a year. But whether or not we lose this battle, that is one of our possible objectives, to pursue a recall against him.'”
“We are willing to take this as long as it takes… We are doing the right thing.”