Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vicki Johnson

Two blogs in one day after one in all of February. Imagine. So it goes when the fire of outrage burns brightly.

It was confirmed today that Republicans in the Wisconsin state legislature unearthed an obscure parliamentary procedure Wednesday night, allowing them to ratify a bill stripping public-sector unions of their right to collective bargaining despite the continued absence of Democrats.

This is just the first domino to fall in what will likely be a very long chain.

I hope those who voted for Scott Walker last November recall their reasoning and their faith when they find themselves at the mercy of their employer in ways they absolutely cannot imagine today.


Vicki Johnson is a woman in her mid-forties. She is the manager of a feed mill in central Wisconsin, and is someone I have never met. For all I know, she is a wonderful woman. A caring mother. A devoted daughter. A best friend.

But she is also dangerously naïve. Amazingly short-sighted. And just a little misinformed. And she (presumably) votes.

Her thoughts fascinate me because they are a glimpse into the middle-class Republican mind; the mind responsible for installing people like Scott Walker, Rick Snyder, Mitch Daniels, John Kasich and Chris Christie into public office.

If you’re not fortunate-enough to live in the United States circa 2011, Walker, Snyder, Daniels, Kasich and Christie are governors waging war on those with the temerity to belong to public-sector unions, with the eventual goal of establishing a Republican (i.e. corporate) monopoly on governance in the United States.

Not that small government adherents like Johnson see the contradiction.

She likens the behavior of the fourteen Wisconsin state representatives who left the state capitol to prevent passage of Walker’s kill-collective-bargaining-or-else bill to “little children throwing a tantrum, and they should be spanked.”

(I can't imagine what she makes of the Boston Tea Party.)

I have a persistent and nagging suspicion that were the Wisconsin Fourteen Republican, she’d be calling them “wile” and “savvy”, saying “they’re just freedom-loving people standing up for what they believe in.”

When asked about unions, Johnson paused her Shirley Temple DVD and answered thusly:

“Up here, if you’re an honest, hard-working person, you take your lumps. I don’t believe in unions. They were good when they started. But now, the union protects the lazy man. I really think these days an honest, hard-working man doesn’t need protection.”

I can't help but feel like the deli customer in When Harry Met Sally, who after watching Meg Ryan seemingly experience an orgasm after biting into a sandwich, tells the waitress "I'll have what she's having."

For those of us who don't live in a Norman Rockwell painting, being honest and hard-working means that with a dollar, we can buy a weekday edition of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (which incidentally, costs one-dollar).

It would undoubtedly come as a shock to Ms. Johnson, but there are millions of honest and hard-working people who are fending off financial ruin and persistent unemployment because our elected representation (which, incidentally, is non-union) allowed Wall Street (which is also non-union) to gamble with our economy and our futures without fear of retribution or punishment or accountability.

Being ‘good’ employees or ‘bad’ employees had nothing to do with it. Being not rich and not powerful did.

Johnson’s is the conservative mind at work. It’s this or it’s that. It is or it isn’t. It’s up or it’s down. In the words of the execrable George W. Bush, “You’re either with us or you’re against us.” There are no shades of grey.

It’s easy, quick, black and white thinking. Which incidentally, is characteristic of the adolescent brain.

Draw your own conclusions.

She is the triumph of conservative marketing; intoxicated by the nostalgia of traditional values even as those around her are sacrificed at the altar of executive compensation and insatiable corporate and conservative greed.

Ignorance is clearly bliss.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with Vicki. These days an honest, hard-working man doesn’t need protection.

    But get rid of the unions and let corporate America decide what an honest hard-working man needs? He'll need protection pretty damn quickly!

    I'm on the fence. Many unions really have gotten out of hand and demand ludicrous concessions. The salary of some union bosses would put them on the same street as the CEO.

    We need unions, but we need new ones.