Republicans Ignoring the Most Important Demographic In Battle over Collective Bargaining

A recent Rasmussen poll is becoming an eye-opener for Republicans, regarding the battle in Wisconsin and a few other states over the right of public employees to collectively bargain.  It would seem that younger voters especially come down on the side of the unions, as 63% of voters 18-39 years of age oppose weakening those rights.  From TPM:

As to the question of collective bargaining rights, 56% said they were on the unions’ side in the debate, while 41% said they sided with Walker. Further, 52% said they oppose Walker’s proposal to cut collective bargaining rights for state unions, compared to 39% who said they support that proposal.

Walker has insisted that rolling back collective bargaining rights is a necessary step toward producing a balanced budget. While state unions have already agreed to make concessions on the amount of money they pay toward benefits, Walker has refused to back down on collective bargaining, even as protesters continue to flood the state capitol.

Another key detail — the poll shows younger voters being generally more supportive of unions and collective bargaining rights than those in older demographics. That’s a reversal of what is often assumed to be the case — younger voters tilting liberal on social issues, while older voters lean liberal on the labor issues.

For example, 63% of respondents aged 18-39 opposed weakening collective bargaining rights, while 46% of respondents in both the 40-64 year-old and 65+ demographics said the same.

18-39 years of age isn’t just the young.  What’s so significant about this is the age group that shows the greatest concern against the bill is the one group of people most affected by the Depression…ahem…recession.  More than 17% of Americans who want full-time work cannot get it.  You’d think this age group would support this bill overwhelmingly, considering that their prospects have been bleak for years.  Rather than opining to drag the public workers down to their level, they have decided to support higher wages and benefits for the working man as a whole.  At least, that’s what this poll is telling me.  Whoever said that the masses couldn’t organize and collectively do what was right for all?

Republicans are losing the war of words on this issue, and are unwilling to compromise; another bad idea.  We all remember how the health care debate energized the Republican base.  It seems as if this debate is energizing not only the Democratic base, but the Independents as well.  Why?

For starters, there’s that 17% underemployment thing to consider.  Independent voters have long been against Free Trade, and many of us view Free Trade legislation as being responsible for the lack of jobs available in America today.  Then there is the ever-dwindling wage and benefit scale in America.  People aged 18-39 are either entering, or trapped in a job market that consistently attacks their ability to earn a living wage.  Simply put, Republicans are coming down on the side of The Man, and that is political suicide in a depression-recession.  Furthermore, they are losing the message war in the same way that Democrats badly lost the message war over health care reform.

It’s being called the Republican Over-reach.  That’s what the mainstream media has named Walker’s bill, and the bills of several other states.  But it’s not over-reach, really.  This is what Republicans do.  They firmly believe that Corporate America has the answers to everything that ails us, and they have hitched their wagon to an idea that wages and benefits negotiated in good faith over the last 50 years are fair game.  What kind of message is that sending to people aged 18-39?  I think it’s a message of despair for the masses.  I think the message is such that Independents are siding with liberals in this battle because we’ve seen the damage that Free Trade has done to our ability to find good jobs and negotiate good wages.

Scott Walker will probably win this battle, and save Wisconsin’s budget for one year.  But Republicans will potentially lose much more.  You simply cannot consistently side with The Man during times of economic distress; not when the masses hold the key to electoral victory.  That’s the one point lost in all of this.  Walker’s bill is probably necessary for the short-term, but long-term, Republicans will pay for it at the ballot box, and they have decided to stick their heads in the sand as the most important, populated demographic overwhelmingly tells them not to.     ?

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