In listening to the conversation between Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker and who he thought was a major backer, billionaire David Koch, one thing jumped out at me.
It wasn’t that Walker was willing to use deception to lure AWOL Democrats back to the capital to force a vote to eliminate collective bargaining. It wasn’t that his camp considered planting instigators in the midst of protesters. It wasn’t even that he’s quite the chatterbox. It’s that in all his narrative, he talked like he was playing a game.
And he likes this game. This idea of strategizing with his camp, of shoring up his team, of crushing his opponents – who in this case are state Democrats, public workers, unions, liberal protesters and of course Obama – this is fun for him. There are no real people in his playbook. No good and dedicated teachers, trying to inspire the next generation. No sanitation workers doing a job that most would not touch. Those protestors are just liberal hippies who will tire the ‘usually bad’ press soon enough. Even the one Democrat that he has had some contact with (and presumed respect for), is irrelevant because he isn’t ‘one of us’. So he doesn’t really count.
Of course in many ways, politics is a game. And at this moment he, and his agenda are winning so why not privately be Gleeful?
But it’s this very mindset – whether you see it as a game, a competition, a battle or an out-and-out war to be won that is the biggest issue we must get beyond if we have any hope of moving on to truly solving some of the challenges of our times.
To be clear I have issues with unions too because they have the same strategy – looking out for themselves. And while I do have great respect for many in the professions that have unions, as an entity unions play the same game.
The minute all you care about is getting your demands met, or getting your way, you keep the game going. And while there is nothing wrong with wanting to win, it’s when that comes with an apathy of or even pleasure toward the other side losing, there is no difference between the sides anymore.
And that is why we need collective bargaining. But of a different sort. Where we address the legitimate concerns of the other players as well. Otherwise we are stuck – moving the ball back and forth down the field. Each side picking up yardage, making touchdowns and winning games until the other side comes back with enough steam to stop them. It might take until the next game, next season, or next election but that is the game we are playing.
Until we change the rules – we won’t achieve greatness. But it’s going to take some true visionaries. And unfortunately Scott Walker isn’t proving to be one of them.