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The Labor Day Kerfuffle

by on September 1st, 2011

Last night while I slept I received 7 emails about the Labor Day parade, and my reaction to it.  They ranged anywhere from you’re a fair weather Democrat, you are not a democrat, to the witty You are a Democrat in Name Only.  The last one is cool and funny because my name is Dino, get it, Democrat in Name Only is actually my name.

When this started I said that this was a tragically bad bit of media strategy by the Labor Council here in Wausau, and honestly it went from bad to worse, to absolute failure in my opinion.

Let us go back a bit, and track the events.  The actions if you will.

  1. The Labor Council of Marathon County takes a vote and this vote denies Sean Duffy and all Republicans access to march in their Labor Day Parade.
  2. Sean Duffy sends out a Press Release saying he is saddened by this.
  3. Duffy makes it on Fox and Friends to talk it through.
  4. Senator Pam Galloway issues a statement saying that this was a mistake.
  5. The Galloway ends up on Fox.
  6. Then Mayor Tipple comes out and says that since public funds are used for the parade, it is against policy to exclude someone based on political affiliation.
  7. No response from Radtke.
  8. Last night Radtke sends out an email to local media telling us that he is caving in, and Republicans are allowed to walk in the parade.

I think that is accurate.  I sort of glossed over the fact that the act of excluding someone is in fact, illegal.  But, we can let the ACLU talk about that if they want.

I think this was massive mistake on Labors part.  If the intent was to create some sort of actual discussion, this failed.  What discussion was wanted?  That Republicans aggressively sought to change or eliminate Union rights in this state, who does not know that by now?  And how do you do that by not letting a man walk down a street in a parade?

If the goal is to educate the public on the policy impact of the actions of the Republican led legislature, then there are better ways to do that than a illegal act of exclusion from a parade.  You could have a week of Labor education at the Labor Temple, call it Labor Week.

If the goal was to focus the parade on Labor, then this exclusionary side show does not get there.  I believe Labor should have eliminated all parties, and all candidates, and all elected officials.  Thank them for their support, and move past this.  This would not have been truly exclusionary, it simply would have been uniform in its actions.  It would have been seen as a true high road, and innovative act that actually gets to what the goals was, Labor Focus.

But instead Labor wanted to pick a fight with Sean Duffy and his party.  And they lost that fight.  Duffy can walk in the parade now if he so chooses.  Public money is used to support the parade, so he gets to walk.  So, Labor loses.

Labor has done further damage though.  By creating this chasm in our city, bad things can happen.  Already you see on twitter and facebook talk of people bringing tomatoes to throw at Duffy.  I have never seen rhetoric like that before, have you?

Let us play this forward a bit.  So Duffy comes, and walks.  His supporters come and are in the crowd.  People boo, people cheer, and maybe words are spoken.  Maybe worse, someone decides to throw them ham hocks known as hands.  And suddenly we have a fight.

Now, we have the police, we have more news, we have more of everything.  This threat of violence is real.  Will the FOX network be here, will Ed Schultz?

My friends have said that Randy acted in reaction to the policies in Madison.  I absolutely get that.  But, I could care less.  If you and I are engaged in a face punching contest in which I punch you, you punch me, and I punch you, and you punch me, in a seemingly never ending loop, the only way to break that loop is to step back from it, and not throw a punch.  It is not a loss because it is an absurd game.

Labor is playing an absurd face punching game.  And right now Duffy won.  The Republican Party won.  They did not punch back.  They simply stepped back, and Randy has no one else to punch.  And clearly from the tone of his email to the media, this guy really wants to punch someone.

So, what else.  I thought in the beginning of this that the narrative put forth by the right is that Unions and the Democratic party are one in the same, well Randy confirmed that by kicking out one party, and keeping the other.

This was a horrible week for me as a progressive.  I acknowledge that the political deck is stacked against me in rather significant ways.  But, what my friend who reminds me of that often fails to acknowledge, I am not even playing cards.  I have endured a pretty great amount of personal attacks at the hands of both people I know, and total strangers, which I find great.  I find it great because I am pretty sure my labor card, well that’s been punched a few times over.  I can check that bit of service off.

Do I think Randy Radtke is a good guy?   I do.  Do I think he made a significant mistake that sets back labor policy even further than it already had been?  Of course I do.

Was all of this avoidable?  Yep.

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