I was on my computer late last night and so had a chance to witness the failure of a months-long effort by unions and Democrat groups to take back the Wisconsin Senate after it helped Governor Scott Walker introduce pension reforms for public sector union employees.
Because I was actively tweeting my reactions to a very heated topic, not surprisingly, I caught some flack from people who disagreed with my hope that Republicans would retain their majority in the Senate.
What surprised me about the critiques I saw leveled at me was how many would claim “the pope is pro-union” (typically followed by an expletive describing their distaste for my anti-union sentiments). They were most offended, in other words, that I as a Catholic was not cheering for the Democrat/Union team.
Get real. I believe it’s totally Catholic to be anti-union in the particular circumstances of the Wisconsin recall elections. Here’s why.
It’s one thing to be pro-union if that means supporting the rights of workers to band together to achieve a fair wage and humane work conditions. It’s another thing when unions band together to preserve unfair perks and benefits which are directly destabilizing and threatening the public finances of a state (which is what was happening in Wisconsin, and also describes accurately what is happening in many other states across the country).
When public sector unions and national Democrat political groups far outspend local Republicans fighting for reelection, it’s very clear they aren’t fighting on behalf of the weaker, underprivileged minority. The forces behind these efforts to recall the Republican senators were not the underdog, they were big money. Organized labor big money.
And they lost. And that’s a good thing for American society. Because there’s nothing in the solidarity movement or the Church’s traditional support for employee organizing that says these groups have an absolute right to put their own interests ahead of the common good of a state or country.
Democracy is a virtue here, because last night’s victory was one achieved by ordinary folks in Wisconsin who took time out of their day to go to the polling booth, having listen to both sides of the argument, thought about it, and took the initiative to act for the best interests of their state, and their children.
As pundits on NRO’s The Corner have mentioned, last night’s defeat and rebuke of the unions in Wisconsin has national consequences. It says there is hope for newly-elected officials who promise to reform the excesses of government (and especially the excess of government pay-out to public-sector union employees) and proceed to fulfill that promise, that they will be reelected to continue to serve another day. It says there’s a future in fulfilling their promise to act in the best interests of all the people they represent, not just the people who pay union dues and work in and for government.
It’s also a victory for the people of Wisconsin. If you look at the indicators coming out of the Badger State, things are looking good there: more people are getting back to work and enjoying the fruits of their labors through less government regulation and debt.
In other words, more worker rights are being secured for more people in Wisconsin — because more Wisconsins now have a chance to actually get a job. Shouldn’t the unions be happy about that?
I know I am.