What do the political battles in Wisconsin and the Spanish Civil War have in common? A disturbing characteristic.
The Spanish Civil War is one of those events that are on the way to becoming forgotten history. The term “civil war” is a bit misleading, since the conflict internationalized itself in short order, with Hitler and Mussolini lining up with the rebels, or “Nationalists”, and Stalin backing the “Republicans” (actually a motley gaggle of various left-wing elements). The dictatorships utilized Spain as a proving ground for new tactics and weapons, including the Me-109, fighter-bomber, the Ju-87 Stuka dive bomber, along with Rotte fighter tactics and area bombing raids, such as that carried out against Guernica. The war ended in 1939 with the defeat of the Republicans, even as World War II was looming. The Germans learned quite a lot in Spain that they applied to the Blitzkrieg campaigns against Poland and France. (Uncle Joe might have picked up a few things if he hadn’t decided to have most of the officers sent to Spain shot on their return.)
Something similar, though on a much lower key (no massacres or bombing raids yet) has been occurring in Wisconsin over the past few months: a nearly open civil war instigated by the left in order to test an array of new tactics.
Last February, newly-elected governor Scott Walker signed a budget containing minor reforms aimed at the public-employees unions. Union members would be required to pay small amounts into their pension and health-care funds. Collective bargaining was curtailed on this and other matters in order to assure that these reforms would remain permanent.
Wisconsin’s civil war started then and there. The Democratic senators fled the state to deprive Walker of a quorum. Shortly afterward, tens of thousands of union members — many imported from out of state — laid siege to the capitol. They remained for weeks, engaging in vandalism, menacing state officials, and uttering death threats against anyone voting in favor of the reforms.
The bill was finally passed thanks to a clever parliamentary maneuver, only to be set aside by Maryann Sumi, a county judge attempting to punch well above her weight, on procedural grounds. It developed that Judge Sumi was closely entwined with the unions through family connections.
At the same time a campaign to recall Republicans who had voted for Walker’s budget was put into motion. (A smaller number of the Democrats who fled were also targeted.) These recall elections are still overhanging the senators.
With the bill headed for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the left next targeted an ordinary state Supreme Court election, importing hundreds of thousands of dollars in an effort to defeat incumbent David Prosser, a centrist conservative, in favor of Joanne Kloppenberg. Thanks to a comically inept local election official, it seemed at first that they had succeeded, but when the smoke cleared, Prosser had won by a healthy 7,000 votes.
And finally, we have the latest purported incident, in which we are asked to believe that Justice Prosser, in the midst of a discussion in the chambers of his liberal opposite number Ann Walsh Bradley, suddenly and apropos of nothing bounded across the room and attempted to strangle her in front of most of the other justices. The man is even worse than Clarence Thomas.
This is an extraordinary series of events, of a type that we haven’t witnessed before. Even more singular is the legacy media’s insistence on covering the story (with the exception of the siege of Madison, which got the standard “unions unbound” treatment) as if it were commonplace to the point of boredom. It is no such thing; it is an ideological campaign of a magnitude and breadth that we have not seen in quite some time, if ever.
What all this amounts to is the baptism of fire of what I have taken to calling the “liberal superstructure.” This superstructure is the vast constellation of advocacy groups, think tanks, single-issue outfits, unions, and various other flotsam constructed by the left over the past half-century or so. There are literally thousands of these groups, ranging from the ACLU and the Sierra Club with their hundreds of thousands of members to the local “Friends of the People’s Venezuela” outfit which amounts to a retired feminism professor and her six cats. These organizations are ubiquitous, universal, and networked to a fare-thee- well. They are also liberalism’s last great hope of controlling politics in the United States.
t’s scarcely arguable that, in the political sense, liberalism is on the ropes. Obama spent their last nickel. They have lost the House and will lose the Senate, with little chance of regaining them in the near future. The same is true of the White House once the messiah gets the bum’s rush come 2012. Liberalism is on the skids, its programs uniform failures, its ideology barren, its slogans worn out, its long hold on the independents being relentlessly pared down by the Tea Parties.
So what is a political movement to do, particularly one as fanatic and apocalyptic as this one? Well, if you have an alternate system made up of outside organizations not subject to governmental oversight, a system populated with self-selected fanatics and true believers, a system poised and ready to march, you can do what was done in Wisconsin. You can turn the superstructure loose to threaten the public peace, smash things up, abuse the electoral process, create a media spectacle, and pressure the state to do things your way. You can use nonpolitical organizations (in the electoral sense) to get a political result.
All the groups involved in the Wisconsin campaign were superstructure groups. The unions, the very core organizations of the superstructure, without which it’s no more than a pack of vegetarians and aging hippies. The media, which serves as its propaganda arm. And the judiciary, which is broadly infiltrated by leftist partisans whose allegiance has been awarded to something other than the law.
But it’s when we review the Prosser accusations that the picture attains clarity. According to Byron York, the story (which had been held back for nearly two weeks) was first reported by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism working with Wisconsin Public Radio. (Two guesses as to which end of the spectrum they lean toward.) The Prosser story was billed as the result of a project funded by the Open Society Institute to enlighten the public about Wisconsin government.
The report was picked up by ThinkProgress, the strike force for the Center for American Progress, which both tweeted and posted the story, as well as calling for Justice Prosser’s ouster.
The interesting thing here is that the Open Society and the Center for American Progress are the flagship organizations of the liberal superstructure, the outfits that call the shots, handle the funding, and coordinate efforts. They are also funded by Old Spooky himself, George Soros. The left rolled out their big units for this effort. Why? To wreck the career of a junior state Supreme Court justice? To take control of the Dairy State? Perhaps so, but I believe it was also in hopes of testing out the superstructure as a political delivery system in a relatively closed environment.
If that’s the case, they’ll need to reevaluate, because the effort has blown up in their faces. Take a closer look at the Prosser accusation, which fell apart as soon as a little basic reporting was carried out. Almost every point made in the story released by the Soros groups turned out to be false:
- Prosser was not inside the room, but standing in the doorway — no minor point considering how matters developed.
- He had made a heat-of-the-moment remark about Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson after being put on the spot concerning an overdue decision. Prosser had agreed to delay the decision to avoid an appearance of undue haste, only to hear the chief justice announce another delay on no grounds whatsoever. This prompted Prosser to state that he had “lost confidence” in Abrahamson. (What was the decision, you ask? Why, the one dealing with Judge Sumi’s interference with Governor Walker’s budget. Funny how this all dovetails, ain’t it?)
At which point Justice Bradley attacked Prosser, fists flailing — not the other way around.
- Justice Prosser fended her off, perhaps grazing her neck in the process. Bradley started screaming that he was choking her. Another justice stated, “You were not choked.”
This is quite a different scenario, with Justice Prosser coming out more as victim than perpetrator. No wonder the legacy media refused to touch it, instead choosing to await an official report. It seems that that Spooky George’s money was wasted this time around. But that’s the case with a lot of things he gets involved with — consider Project Obama for another example.
The superstructure’s debut as a political weapon has been less than impressive. It failed to overawe the Wisconsin state senate. It failed to halt Gov. Walker’s bill. It failed to vote Justice Prosser out of office, and it has now failed to enmesh him in a faked criminal incident. All that remains is the recall efforts, and they will likely be an overall failure too.
So there will be no liberal Blitzkrieg coming out of the Wisconsin civil war. But these are early days, and this is the first effort to utilize this enormous and complex system. It remains pregnant with possibilities, with its millions of members and effectively infinite levels of funding. It is also the only thing that the liberals have left. We will encounter it again, perhaps in a more liberal-friendly environment in the Northeast or on the West coast.
Along with the first major defeat of the public-employee unions, Wisconsin may have given us a clear warning of an emerging threat from the left. Not a particularly impressive threat, as yet, but a threat all the same, and one that deserves closer attention than it has gotten.
J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker. He is the author of Death by Liberalism, dismissed by Frank Rich as a “demented right wing screed.”