Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s failure to win his state’s Democratic nomination was a crushing defeat for organized labor, which went all-out in supporting Halter in order to punish incumbent Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln for her failure to support the unions’ top legislative priority, the so-called Employee Free Choice Act, which was unpopular in her fairly conservative state.
Big Labor did get something out of this, in that it gave Lincoln enough of a scare to make other Democrats think twice before crossing the unions, but her having won shows Democrats that placing their constituents’ priorities over those of their party’s most powerful interest group can be a winning strategy. This is to the good, as politicians of both major parties, especially at the state level, need to confront some powerful public sector unions — which now represent the majority of all unionized workers — to bring government budgets under control. And across the nation, more and more citizens seem to support imposing such fiscal discipline.
A political tide that has helped fuel the growth of government finally seems to be turning in favor of taxpayers. With the nation’s unemployment rate still hovering at just below 10 percent, the public is turning its anger on a protected class of workers that has largely escaped the economic uncertainty, at everybody else’s expense: government employees.