Will Wisconsin Be The Beginning of Something Big for Democrats?

Ever since protests broke out at Wisconsin’s capital last month, there’s been a question of whether it could spark a liberal version of the Tea Party movement. That question became a bit more pronounced last night, as Republicans used a legislative tactic to overcome Democrats’ attempts to block the Senate from being able to pass the budget fix bill that also reduced public sector union’s bargaining power. The liberal outrage in response has been compared to the conservative backlash when Democrats used the reconciliation process to pass the health care law. Nate Silver has some insights about whether this can galvanize the Democratic base as health care galvanized the GOP base in 2010. Anything can happen, but there are two main reasons to think it won’t be as galvanizing. The first is that health care is a much more personal and important issue that affects everybody, whereas the issue of public sector bargaining power is mainly a motivating concern for unions and liberal activists. The second is that health care was a national issue, not just a case of a single state — say, Massachusetts — enacting things. The rallying cry in 2010 was that changing Congress was a way to start the process of repealing a law that will have a big affect on everybody in the country. Maybe a “recall” effort in 2012 would have an impact on Wisconsin — an Obama 2008 state that was a possible pickup opportunity for Republicans — but at least right now, I don’t see it as an enduring, national, rallying cry.