Of all of the many, many articles on the failed attempt to recall Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, this piece by Dean Bakopoulos over at Salon is probably the most insightful because he has hit on the major reason why the Wisconsin recall campaign failed: working Americans (that is, the vast majority of Americans who depend on earned paychecks to survive) are increasingly at war with each other instead of neoliberal capitalism. In order to get low-wage laborers, struggling small businessmen, and the increasingly squeezed white-collar middle class to vote for their own impoverishment, you have to find a suitable villain. In the period following the beginning of the Great Recession, unionized workers and public employees have made convenient targets, with the usual stereotypes about lazy, overpaid teachers and bureaucrats making the rounds of television, talk radio, and the Internet.
Of course, the idea of destroying labor unions in order to save the American Dream makes no sense given the fact that the time period most people associate with the golden age of the American middle class was made possible because of the efforts of organized labor. Furthermore, it is not necessary to have a doctorate degree in economic history to know that workers worked more hours, for less pay, and under worse conditions when organized labor had little or no power.
The serious disconnect between reality and right-wing talking points can only partially be explained by the wealth and pervasiveness of the Right's propaganda apparatus. I find it odd that so many Americans cannot look into their own family's history and arrive at the conclusion that perhaps Dad's or Grandpa's union membership may explain why Dad or Grandpa had health insurance, paid vacation, and a pension, as opposed to one's own demolished or non-existent benefit scheme, longer hours, and more onerous workplace. Sometimes I really do think Americans get the government they deserve.