The Corner

Where Does the Left Get the Time?

As I look at the union members swarm the Wisconsin capital, I have a familiar thought: A great advantage of the Left is that they are organized and determined — and have a lot of time. Paid time. The taxpayer is funding these “days of protest,” engaged in by the public-school teachers. They are using their “sick” leave, provided by the taxpayer, to go rallying.

And what are the other citizens of Wisconsin — the majority — doing? What they always do. Going about their business, or businesses; providing for their families. As we speak, some are having to stay home with their school-aged children, who have been locked out of their classrooms by their teachers — their “teachers.”

Ordinary Wisconsinites aren’t paid to go rallying in the capital. Besides, they “rallied” at the polls last November. They had their say then. And now, Governor Walker and the rest are trying to conduct the people’s business.

I am reminded of why I was so amazed at, and admiring of, the Tea Party. Right-leaning types almost never get together and rally, in my experience. But the Tea Party was something special, something new. Here was a genuine democratic movement. Its participants were not like the hordes of purple-shirted unionists, holding their prefab signs, shouting their prepared slogans. They were just folks, with their own, individual clothing, and their own, homemade signs. The Tea Party movement itself was homemade.

A veteran political journalist — not a Republican — told me that he never expected to see anything like the Tea Party: an honest-to-goodness grassroots movement.

I believe the Tea Party held their events on the weekend. Unlike the teacher unionists, they do not get paid to skip work and go rally.

Political activism in general is the province of the Left. Conservatives don’t have the time for it, and they don’t have the inclination either. Thomas Sowell once remarked that, in politics, the Left fields its A Team and the Right its B Team. What did he mean? He meant that the Left’s high-flyers go into politics, because they yearn to remake society and control others. Our high-flyers do things that make the economy grow.

This is one reason I so appreciate a politician like former Michigan governor John Engler. He adores politics: first held office when he was still in college, I believe. And yet he has Republican, Reaganite views. He spent a career in government trying to put government in its proper place, and give the public breathing room. It seems to me that most people who spend their careers in government want to increase the power of government, and shrink the private, or non-governmental, sphere.

Let me close with a quotation from a column I cited earlier today: the one by Patrick McIlheran, in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He said that union leaders “must figure that if they bring 13,000 shouting people to Madison, they can overrule the election.” And I love what he said next: “Any worried legislators should keep in mind that Walker drew about five times that many votes in Dane County alone in November.”

Yes. At this critical hour, Wisconsin’s elected officials should remember whom they work for. And they should take courage in that remembering. They work for all the citizens, not just the ones who can take time off — paid — to shout and bully.


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Colin Powell, R.I.P.

Colin Powell, R.I.P.

We had substantial disagreements but recognize that he will be remembered for a long, consequential career of service to a country that he loved.