Democrats lost the right-to-work argument early in this Extraordinary Session, when they forgot to use the Republicans own rhetoric to kill the idea.
Every ridiculous use of the words "freedom," "liberty" and "choice," words liberals have used in meaningful ways for years fighting for women's health rights, unionization, net neutrality, and protesting were twisted into a pretzel by Republicans. Workers already have the right to work in a union shop or not. Here's an example of a jam packed line of bullshit from one of the best spin meisters:
"We're fighting for every worker in the state to have their own personal liberty," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said. "Worker freedom. Individual choice. Getting to make your own way in life."
It was an upside down and highly successful way to inject big Republican one-size-fits-all government into the private sectors supposed free market business model. That's changing too.
Democrats missed the following opportunities to drive their point home:
1. There is no “right to work” in the constitution, the one place rights are protected and in some cases enumerated. Democrats could have taken this constitutional approach away from these “constitutional conservative” phonies.
2. Government control over Private Businesses: Forget the free market and a private business owner’s freedom to work with unions in their workplace.
3. People have the “Freedom” to look for work elsewhere: No one is forcing job seekers to work at a business with union contracts. They don't even have to join unions. They have the freedom and liberty to move on to those supposed higher wage non-union workplaces.
4. The “Freedom” and “Liberty” answer to everything they can’t defend: Seriously, this whole freedom and liberty thing is so over the top, that's it's intellectually insulting.
Rep. Dean Knudson, R-Hudson, argued the bill was about freedom. "We stand today for a simple and yet very powerful concept, the concept of worker freedom," Knudson said.
Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Milton, joked if anyone following the debate at home played a game requiring them to drink every time someone said the word "freedom," the would have "cashed out yesterday afternoon. I want to say this has nothing to do with freedom, it has nothing to do with choice. It had everything to do with divide and conquer," Jorgensen said, referencing comments Gov. Scott Walker made in 2010.
5. Right-to-Work is Wrong for Wisconsin: I can't tell you how much I hate this mindless slogan. We could have used the Republicans own talking points against them. The base normally hates government meddling, exactly what the Republicans are doing right now. There was a slim chance of reaching a few conservatives voters struck by the hypocrisy.
6. Impressed by our Fighting Democrats: After watching Wisconsin Eye and a few camera phone videos of the right-to-work debate, I felt the Democrats did a great job disproving every empty Republicans reason for the law. Sadly, not only did almost none of this got local news coverage, but Democrats failed to brag about their debate victories.