For good or ill since the beginning of the 20th century, political and policy ideas that get traction in Wisconsin tend to catch on elsewhere. And sometimes when they lose traction here, they start losing it elsewhere, too.
Take public employee unionization.
Rejected by such Liberal icons as Franklin D. Roosevelt, government unions found fertile ground in Wisconsin a little more than half a century ago. By the 1980s they were unquestionably the most dominant force in Wisconsin politics—more dominant than either party—and it was only in 2011 that they were knocked from that perch by the legislative termination of their privilege to collect mandatory dues from workers who weren’t necessarily willing to pay.
Any Wisconsin resident who doubts this assertion of basic constitutional freedom was a big deal must have moved here from another country within the past few months.
And now the underlying principles of Wisconsin’s seismic political shift are being tested in an equally unlikely place: California. There is no doubt that the Left considers this a very big deal.
Mother Jones—okay, subtlety is not their long suit—says the challenge, heard Monday in oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, “threatens to strike a devastating blow to the nation’s labor movement.”
Granted, Mother Jones always thinks the Supreme Court is a lot more conservative than it really is, but it’s clear these people are genuinely afraid. So afraid that they’re prepared to suggest a win for the plaintiffs, who want out from under compulsory union fees, could cut off funding for groups representing “child abuse investigators.”
That would be, ummm…yes, the unions whose fees the child abuse investigators currently have no choice but to pay.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin is preparing reforms of the civil service system it perfected a century ago. You listening, California?