Thursday, October 4, 2018

the last book I ever read (The Fall of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest of a Progressive Bastion and the Future of American Politics, excerpt eleven)

from The Fall of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest of a Progressive Bastion and the Future of American Politics by Dan Kaufman:

Since Trump’s victory, Missouri, West Virginia, and Kentucky have become right-to-work, bringing the total to twenty-eight states, as conservatives continue to aggressively convert even more or them. And for good reason. A 2018 study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that right-to-work laws decrease the Democratic presidential vote share by 3.5 percent, a decline that far exceeds the amount Clinton lost by in both Michigan and Wisconsin. The authors noted that right-to-work laws also affect Senate, House, governor, and state legislative races. The study underscored the importance of the anti-union strategy that began in Wisconsin with Act 10, which functioned as a right-to-work law for public-sector employees, going so far as to bar them from even choosing to have the union automatically collect dues. (They could, however, elect to have automatic donations for organizations like the United Way.) When the attacks on unions began in Wisconsin, many of the protesters noted that the first step the Nazi Party took to cement its hold on power was banning independent trade unions. The analogy seemed like gross hyperbole at the time, but with the rise of white nationalism since Trump’s election, the parallel has become more disturbing.

After the 2016 election, an underlying goal of attacking Wisconsin’s union movement—transforming the electorate—was articulated by Grover Norquist, the conservative anti-tax activist. “Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in 2016 did not lay the groundwork for Republican political dominance,” Norquist wrote. “But the March 2011 signing of Act 10, a dramatic reform of public-sector labor laws, by Wisconsin’s Scott Walker certainly did. To understate it: If Act 10 is enacted in a dozen more states, the modern Democratic Party will cease to be a competitive power in American politics. It’s that big a deal.”

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