The explosive budget debate in Madison, like the explosive budget debate in Washington, is setting the table for 2012.
Part of the same struggle, the two battles are now feeding off each other, defining the parties and a broader political argument that both sides hope to somehow “settle” in the next election.
Some political consequences of the stand-off in Wisconsin are hard to predict, such as which side will win the fight for public opinion and where else the battle will “spread.”
Others are more immediate. One obvious consequence of Gov. Scott Walker’s push to curtail bargaining rights for public employees is the fire he has lighted under Democrats, labor and the left. While there are many ways the issue could play out over the coming months, this fact alone has significance for 2012, since by any measure Democratic voters were less motivated in 2010 than their GOP counterparts.
“Gov. Walker has done more to galvanize progressives and working people than anyone possibly could have done … By going at people’s throats and trying to destroy their rights, he has not only galvanized people in Wisconsin but across the country,” former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold said in an interview Thursday, a day after launching a new political action committee.