Tuesday’s recall election in Wisconsin is being referred to as an indicator of what might happen in the Presidential race in November. Some pundits see it as organized labor’s ultimate stand.
$60 million has poured in to both sides, and at the moment every poll suggests Governor Scott Walker will survive. What happens if, in fact, Tom Barrrett loses? Is it really an indication of Democratic weakness across the country heading into November? Or will it, in fact, simply be a reaffirmation of the election Scott Walker won just eighteen months ago?
If Walker wins, organized labor will be hard pressed to salvage a story line that provides any positives in what is being seen as a national referendum on the power of state employee unions and organized labor. And it is labor that has set the bar that high, arguing that in the recall nothing short of the future of unions is at stake.
If Walker does in fact win, organized labor will of course survive in Wisconsin and across the nation. But the blow will be significant. And by framing the debate in Wisconsin in such cataclysmic terms, labor unions will have to reinvent future battles to convince non-union members that the union cause is theirs as well.
If the polls are all wrong and Walker in fact loses, the reverse will be true. After years of declining membership and influence, labor will have succeeded where they have not in the past, convincing non-union members that theirs is the battle for all workers. It will be a significant victory that will no doubt be used as a blue print in future election battles. And it will be the ultimate message that unions have returned to their role as political powerbrokers. The message from unions will be loud and clear, don’t mess with our powers, as Governor Walker did, and don’t ignore us either.
Wisconsin, the nation will be watching on Tuesday.