At Human Events, I have an editorial today on the multi-million dollar gamble organized labor made on Bill Halter’s ill-fated primary challenge to Blue Dog Senator Blanche Lincoln:
For Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Tuesday’s victory was bittersweet: She narrowly secured her party’s nomination, though head-to-head polls indicate she will lose six of every ten general election voters to her Republican challenger in November. But for organized labor, who invested upwards of $10 million backing Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s ill-fated primary challenge of Lincoln, it is all bitter.
From the outset of Halter’s bid, public employee unions and progressive groups rallied at the prospect of defeating Lincoln, whose opposition to labor mainstays like the Employee Free Choice Act and the public health insurance option were observed as mortal sins. The White House and Democratic establishment—most notably Arkansas’ favorite son, former President Bill Clinton—instead endorsed Lincoln.
The divergent paths of the White House and labor groups in the Arkansas nominating contest is symptomatic of a long-developing schism in the Democratic Party-organized labor coalition. For all the talk of a Tea Party-induced conservative schism, the movement has, largely, coalesced behind the Republican Party. The case is not so with frustrated labor organizers, as even loyal Democrats have difficulty swallowing the 21st Century union agenda.
But Republicans–and even moderate Democrats who stand in opposition to the union agenda–should not rest on their laurels. Unions organizers are, if anything, innovative agitators:
They tried securing establishment goodwill by subsidizing a presidential bid; they sought to establish their own party; and they attempted infiltrating another. It should be no secret now—labor is an agile beast. And as union organizers’ previous moves show, Halter’s defeat was only a minor obstacle in their greater campaign.
What is most disconcerting here, though, is the labor movement’s dynamic, imaginative tactics. We won’t know just what they’re planning next until we’ve already been broadsided.