Last week, Fox News was the first to call the Wisconsin recall election in favor of Gov. Scott Walker while NBC continued to ticker-tape blast that it was too close to call. I checked the Internet for the results of the election posted on the New York Times website and others and I noticed there was a significant lag between their calling the election for Mr. Walker and Fox News doing so.
It is quite intriguing how the media shifted the significance of the recall from the original issue of reducing public employees’ bargaining rights to the issue of jobs. While jobs are the critical issue to the American economy today, out-of-control government compensation of its employees must be reined in. It is certain that the mainstream media will downplay the significance of Mr. Walker’s victory over the public-sector unions, the power of the Democratic Party and its influence on the pending November presidential election. The mainstream media decided instead to spin Mr. Walker’s victory as a result of conservative special-interest money that clouded the progressive message. According to Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog group, the conservatives are the ones who are the special interests because Mr. Walker raised more money than his opponent.
However, what the mainstream media fail to realize is that the unions are the real special interests here, not the American people. Unions may complain that conservatives are the special interests, but meanwhile, unions have spent tons of money in order to intimidate public officials.
The reason the progressive message is “clouded” is because the people clearly do not want the government siding with unions.
There has been virtually no coverage of the rejection of public-sector unions in elections across the country. Lost in the fray of the Wisconsin recall were the results of several California ballot initiatives where voters approved pension cuts to city workers. It is not just the Wisconsin voters who believe that public employees are overcompensated but voters across America feel the same way, even in California.
It is obvious that there are inherent conflicts of interest between politicians, who are supposed to manage public employees, and public-sector unions, which negotiate on behalf of these employees. Without resolving this conflict, elected politicians can hardly control spiraling public-employee wages and benefits, which, along with entitlement costs, are creating huge deficits in government budgets.
Mr. Walker’s recall success put up a firewall against out-of-control employee compensation. Now we need the politicians to deal as courageously with entitlement reform.
What the people of Wisconsin have told us is that we should not exploit the unions’ message. It is clear that the Wisconsin people are not anti-union, but their issue is public service and politicians working sweetheart deals with each other. If the public were to take a poll on whether unions should have collective-bargaining rights, most people would agree they should, because the majority of us are workers. But when politicians and public-employee unions start trading favors that hurt all taxpayers it’s a different story. The public finds this repulsive and thinks people should stand up against it. The battle is between the self-serving public employees union and the taxpayers, with the politicians in the middle. Taxpayers are paying the politicians to advocate on their behalf for the best value in public service. The unions are using their money to purchase the politicians and taxpayers are footing the bill. The unions are manipulating the politicians with political money in return for more generous concessions and thus they can’t be objective for the taxpayers funding the politicians’ salaries.
Are we not against special interests’ influence on government? If the government is in support of unions, which are special interests, it is obviously not taking the interests’ of the people into account.
I thought the days of political machines and Tammany Hall stopped in the 19th and 20th centuries.
However, the people of Wisconsin have spoken. Mr. Walker did what most Republicans do not do: fight back. While the unions were screaming and shouting, destroying state property, and refusing to work in the interest of protesting working conditions, Mr. Walker was working for the interests of the general Wisconsin public.
Mr. Walker’s recall victory can once again reiterate to the left, the unions, and the mainstream media what they did not seem to learn in the 2010 election: that their fear tactics and influence will not be tolerated. Special interests will not hold the state hostage.
• Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 169, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Monday through Friday. Become a fan on Facebook at facebook.com/arightside and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/arightside.