So, if it seems to you that, during your lifetime, the Democratic party has gone from being the party that utilized government to help the little guy, to just being the party of government, the rising influence of government unions is a big piece of the puzzle.

Importantly, there is little to be done about this on the federal level. The National Labor Relations Act does not guarantee collective bargaining rights to federal workers, whose unions have only limited powers. The real action is in the states, and thus the importance of today’s recall election.

Conservatives should look at Wisconsin as the first in a series of steps along a path of responsible labor reforms. The model should be the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in the 20th century. After World War II, organized labor acted quite irresponsibly, threatening mass strikes as the economy was going through the difficult transition from wartime to peacetime. As was so often the case with our 33rd president, Harry Truman talked a good game about making the unions behave, but he never actually followed through, and the country elected a Republican majority in the 1946 midterms. Though they would not be in power for long, the conservatives who dominated the 80th Congress passed over Truman’s veto the Taft-Hartley Act, which provided states with the power to institute right-to-work laws, and greatly curtailed the ability of unions to disrupt the national economy.