Strategy: Stick With It or No?
June 7, 2012
…however you feel about union rights in the country — it had one very practical, partisan effect, which is that the unions had been big supporters of Democratic candidates and Democratic causes and had had a lot to do with the Democratic ground game. So if they go away — in terms of whether or not that corporate money that’s disproportionately supporting Republicans can be answered — at least on the Democratic side, before there is some kind of reform, Democrats do not have a way to compete in terms of big outside money in elections. And that is the reality now in Wisconsin. It is the reality in states where they have essentially eliminated unions rights.
This makes me think about strategy and how it should be approached. In general, my advice to people when they work with me on any strategy is to pick one and stick with it in order to best achieve your goals. Switching horses in the middle of a race is a sure way to lose, and I have many examples of that. The main issue in any strategy is managing the intended and unintended consequences that result from choosing a particular path. And Ed Morrissey does a good job pointing that out in his post.
Democrats made the choice to become the party of institutionalized and unaccountable bureaucracy; in Wisconsin, they practically adopted that as a motto in the recall election. They are now only beginning to realize that the public is fed up with the costs and gross inefficiencies of government at all levels, and especially of the sick relationship between PEUs and the politicians they help election.
So essentially, the backlash over some of the union tactics is pushing people away from supporting the Democrats otherwise. Ed points out that there are many other ways to get funding for political races (Hollywood for example). I’m more concerned with the strategy aspect of this whole thing. Do you, as a political party, choose to forego a set of funds in the middle of what looks to be an expensive political season when the stakes are realtively high?
Honestly, I can’t see that happening. I think the Democrat strategists are smart enough to know that the risk of changing their minds at such a critical time are not going to work, and that their best option is to stick with the current plan, even if the outcomes are not entirely desirable. At this point, their biggest concern has to be with where they obviously use the unions as the front line and where they don’t.
I would suspect that the Democrats will continue to use union money, but perhaps they won’t be so forward with the messages of the constituency through November… although they could always surprise me by doubling down. But likely, they’ll take the money and conveniently forget to drive the messages. It wouldn’t be the first time that the party alienates a constituency, and it might be their most successful tactic come November.