The real lesson of Wisconsin is that the Republican Party is at its strongest and greatest when it acts as a revolutionary liberation movement, breaking apart the power relationships of the Democratic Party that stifle people's personal, economic and religious lives.
These power relationships act as dams, walling up human energy into organizational structures, they create the mandates that provide power and money to the organizations, which are fed throughout the infrastructure to create a massive cage of bureaucrats, activists and think-tanks that set the agenda, which becomes law, and is then enforced by governments at every level.
The base activity of the left is organizational. Organizing a group dams it up. The organizers harvest its energy and use it to power their infrastructure. The purpose of a group is to draw money and power into the organization from outside and inside. Money and power are drawn from the inside through dues and member obedience. Money and power are drawn from the outside through leverage exercised by making demands on behalf of the group.
The left operates by wrapping its power relationships in principles. It seeks out groups that give it not only political leverage, but also moral leverage. Groups that it can claim to organize and protect at the same time.
The Teachers unions are a classic example. Organizing teachers gives it a core pressure point. A society will do everything to protect its children. The teachers unions insist that their demands represent the welfare of the children. That they are not representatives of mere employees, but of education itself. Once a union has organized an entire group that is seen as performing a vital service, it can claim to embody a moral imperative.
Similar moral imperatives are used to embody the power relationships of the Democratic Party. There is never anything selfish about the Party. It's always stealing and spending, squandering and kicking back money for some protected group, whether it's children or minorities, or any entry on a long list of them. It is constantly protecting them by building up its own infrastructure and the power relationships that form that infrastructure.
Unionization has moved away from the classic labor unions and toward public sector unions, which control public services. The best unions are those that appear to have a moral imperative, like teachers or nurses, and that can elect the politicians that it bargains for a new contract with. This forms a simple but perfect power relationship. Unions help elect a mayor or governor. The mayor or governor agrees to a generous union contract. The unions reward him by supporting him in the next election.
Breaking up power relationships like these, liberates the people on the outside and inside, and it deals a severe blow to the left, by destroying its infrastructure. The left may appear more powerful than the right, but it is also more vulnerable, because it relies on an artificial infrastructure that is vulnerable. Where the infrastructure of the right is organic and not dependent on government funding or a corrupt system of dirty deals, the infrastructure of the left is almost entirely dependent on it.
The left has its sugar daddy billionaires, but its infrastructure is much too big and its ambitions much too extensive for them to be good for anything besides start-up money. The left is not satisfied with Media Matters or the Center for American Progress; these are training and defense centers for some of its activism, but the bulk of its infrastructure has to be funded through power relationships that intersect with the government. That is where its weakness lies, because government money can be taken away. Rent-seeking habitats can be broken up.
What the left fears more than anything else is being "defunded". What it fears is that its massive ranks of organizations will become completely impotent, with little funding, and no power over people.
The right does not need this kind of infrastructure. A system that is not out to control everyone's behavior all the time, that is not looking to turn every tenth person into another warm body in its endless war against individual freedom, does not need this kind of manpower or indoctrination. Grandiosity, the sheer size of the left, makes it vulnerable. That size is built on a maze of groups, agendas, laws and guidelines in the name of a thousand causes, which intersect with one another to form the beast that we are up against.
The beast is big, but it's vulnerable. It needs power and money to live. It gains that power by serving as an intermediary between people and the government, even when it is the government. The more intermediaries it adds on, to demand one thing or another, to organize the people, while demanding that the government listen to the people it has organized, while paradoxically taking grant money from the government to organize the people to demand that the government listen to them-- the more power and money it gains.
The first and most popular attack on the beast is to take away its compulsory powers. It's popular because Americans don't like being compelled to do things. Decades of brainwashing have gotten people to repeat some, "It's for our own good" talking points. But it's still unpopular, and most people are not so far gone, that they won't cheer when given a way to opt out.
Making an argument against freedom is hard. That's why the left usually pretends that there isn't even an argument or an issue. That the question isn't even on the table, that it has never been on the table and that only a lunatic would put it on the table. Its first resort is to refuse to discuss the subject, its last resort is to drag out the children, the minorities or some other protected group, and accuse its enemies of being the reincarnation of the Third Reich. It did that in Wisconsin... and it lost.
The left knows that it is vulnerable here. That is why it uses guilt and shame, social intimidation, and whatever legal measures it can to make people fall into line. It disguises its agenda, it pretends to be more reasonable than it is, it plays a double game-- and it does everything possible to stave off this kind of popular uprising. Because it has no defense against populism. It is an elitist ruling class pretending to be populist. Its idea of populism is to encourage half the population to attack the other half, while telling the first half that they represent the 99 percent and the other half represents the 1 percent.
The United States does not yet have the system in place to allow for a complete suspension of popular rule, the way that Europe does. Federal judges have become more obnoxious in exercising completely illegal authority to supersede the results of democratic elections. They have dictated what those results should be and reshaped the conditions on the ground to control the outcome. But they don't have complete power yet. Wisconsin is a reminder of what they are so afraid of. The rule of the people is a frightening thing to those who have made it their mission to rule over the people.
The left's greatest fear is the emergence of a new power relationship between populist politicians and a people looking for more freedom and less control. It is the thing that terrifies them and keeps them up nights. They know that such a power relationship has the potential to sweep away everything that they have done, all the intermediaries they have built up between the people and the government, all the insulation that keeps the people away from the centers of power and keeps the centers of power away from the people.
People are not interested in abstract debates, they are interested in concrete benefits. The left has made it its mission to give them concrete benefits, while hiding the true cost of those benefits, and the restrictions that come with them. Only when people have grown used to the benefits, do they begin to experience the true cost and the power of the cage that has been built around them with their consent.
Every benefit comes with two degradations. Every protection comes with two restrictions. Every new system is inherently unstable and can only be maintained through the selective oppression of divide- and-conquer politics, cynically applied by the ruling class for the protection of those they oppress. Most people instinctively experience this, without always understanding it; it is why they distrust the government and wish there were fewer laws, fewer enforcers and more breathing room.
Breaking down the infrastructure of the left, while liberating people from its chains, will have the twin advantages of being popular and of badly damaging the enemy. The more resources the left has to devote to defending its infrastructure, the less it has to spare for expanding it. Wars work best when the enemy is always kept on the defensive, when it's forced to fight pitched battles for the NEA and NPR, and when it's forced to try to get workers to join a union, when they no longer have to join or pay its dues.
When the left is shrinking, then it is less likely to attract new recruits. Careerism is a big part of its appeal. When a movement no longer looks like it can offer as many spots to activists and researchers, then suddenly it doesn't look as appealing anymore. That is a simple human reality, and it can be used against the left.
In its natural state, the left is elitist, the power relationships that it builds up into an infrastructure allow it to transcend the limitations of its elitism by imposing its will through a combination of deceit, manipulation and intimidation. Break the power relationships, the compulsions, and the left recedes back to a few people writing angry poetry or economic theories in basements while asking their parents for more money, or holding court with impressionable radicals.
That is where the left began, before it became the beast devouring everything in its organizational maw. That is where it can be put back again.