The Corner

Heartland Revolt

Just before the election last fall, David Kahane and I had the honor of addressing a Tea Party group in southern Illinois, just across the river from St. Louis. We were reading from Rules for Radical Conservatives and taking questions from the audience.

The area, which includes E. St. Louis, Ill., is called, I’m told, the Chicago of southern Illinois, a place ridden with the kind of thuggish corruption we’ve all now come to know and love from Windy City Democrats — and will see more of when Rahm Emanuel wins his all-but-rigged mayoral election.

Far from being the leftist-memed collection of snarling racists, the Tea Party folks I met were exactly the kind of salt-of-the-earth types a rational person might have expected, including a contingent of World War II vets sporting military caps commemorating service aboard ship.They were polite and reasonable, but there was an unmistakeable note of concern in their questions, concern about the future of the country they had fought for — and for which some of their friends had died.

My words to them were simple: The revolution against the pathology of Obamaism was going to have to come from the heartland. The coastal enclaves were too divorced from reality, too bedazzled by the smile and the snake oil, too wedded to the redemption myth, a myth that played to their own insecurities, if not to their own past and current sins. 

And lo, it was the Midwest that rose up mightily in the last election, unleashing a mighty wind that blew west to Death Valley and east to the Hudson River. Not only did the character of the congressional delegations change but, more important, the state legislatures and governorships turned over as well — with the result that we are now witnessing in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is the Spanish Civil War of our own Cold Civil War, the testing ground for the combat to come in 2012. The Left understands this, which is they why are pouring their Organizing-for-America Lincoln Brigades into Madison; they know that if they lose there, they will lose the larger war. That if the coercive power of the public-employee unions can be broken in Wisconsin, with its history of homespun (as opposed to Alinsky) progressivism, it can be broken elsewhere.

This isn’t just a fight about the teachers’ union, or even about the pusillanimous Democratic legislators who, like the hapless Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo, have fled the jurisdiction. This isn’t even really a fight about labor unions. It’s a fight about the nature of our federal union, and which is to be master: Barack Obama or the Constitution that he swore (twice!) to uphold.

Michael Walsh — Mr. Walsh is the author of the novels Hostile Intent and Early Warning and, writing as frequent NRO contributor David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives.