I think Reihan Salam is a little pessimistic about Gov. Walker's chances of prevailing in the end, but this post is a must read. Among the points I would add: Most people who don't already consume much right-leaning media could not care less what FDR thought about public sector unions or how much those unions contribute to Democratic candidates. They might be brought around to caring about how the government might spend less money for equal or better results. Salam's thoughts about how to reframe the debate (if not for Scott Walker, then for future candidates and public officials) are valuable from both an electoral and a policy standpoint. But there is more to it than tactics on one issue. To the extent that conservative activists, media figures and politicians are more interested in actual policy change than displays of contempt for the opposing political coalition and its leaders, they need to be listening to Salam:
The whole brouhaha is a reminder of the need for the right to think long-term. The health reform debate played out as it did because social policy scholars like Jacob Hacker thought deeply about the defeat of Clinton's Health Security proposal and they designed a new approach designed to survive the rough-and-tumble of the political process. To win these fights, policymakers need a half-a-loaf strategy, i.e., fallback options for when they run into resistance. The defeat of the public option was, for health policy advocates on the left, a relatively minor loss, as the likely trajectory of health costs in a tightly centralized system built around subsidizing coverage with a high actuarial value all but guarantees the need for aggressive cost containment measures in the future. Win now, or win later. Having taken on public sector unions without mobilizing an effective coalition of taxpayers and beneficiaries of public services, Gov. Walker and his allies risk losing in bruising, lasting way.