Contrarian Pundits Are Not An Electoral Coalition

>> Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Via Ailes, Mikey Kaus explains the rationale for his right-wing vanity campaign:

“I believe in affirmative government and spending gobs of money,” he said. But, “I want to let people know that there are people that disagree with the party orthodoxy” on unions and amnesty-first immigration reform.

He already has a platform for his outspoken views,, with a sizeable audience. So why make a seemingly quixotic Senate run?

He says he can reach people that he didn’t with his blog. And, “the time is right.”

Public disapproval of unions is at an all-time high, he notes.

“People really hate the GM bailout.” Kaus supported saving GM and Chrysler but said, “The UAW got us into this mess, so I think they should have taken a pay cut and made more concessions.”


You don’t have to be a wild-eyed libertarian to realize something is very wrong with that. But, as Kaus points out, “You can’t find a Democrat politician criticizing the teachers unions.”

That silence is hurting the liberal cause. “Unions are what make affirmative government unpalatable,” he said.

The standard objections to Kaus's everything-is-a-nail approach to seeing labor as the root problem of everything apply; that one union has negotiated an excessively cumbersome doesn't mean that labor negotiations are bad, there's little reason to believe that labor protections are a major factor in poor school performance, and blaming the UAW rather than management for the problems with American auto manufacturers is implausible in the extreme. (I note, for example, that the justifiably well-regarded Malibu, CTS, and Silverado are all UAW-made, while the pieceashit Aveo is not; it's almost enough to make me think we're not looking at the key variable here.)

But what really kills me is the idea that unions are standing in the way of the expansive welfare state Kaus pretends to want. The truth is something like the reverse -- without labor, progressive politics as an electoral force is in a hopeless position. How, exactly, does Kaus propose replacing the organizational and GOTV support that labor provides? It's almost enough to make me think he doesn't care about progressive policy outcomes at all...


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