As he’s still a relatively young man, I imagine there are a multitude of things Scott Walker can still achieve in his life. But being president is not going to be one them. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. We’re all endowed with certain gifts and hindered by certain realities. I will never be George Will. Scott Walker will never be Ronald Reagan. Or even James Polk.
Walker isn’t outsider-y enough to generate enthusiasm among the grassroots and not insider-y enough to generate the funding that might help him overcome his unwinnable situation. Walker does not possess the appeal or rhetorical acumen to shake things up on his own. The problem with expectations is that you usually only get to meet them once. Ask Rick Perry.
If you’re going to cast yourself as the hardheaded blue-state union buster, you can’t go wobbly at the first sign of trouble. When more than 100,000 protesters occupied Wisconsin’s state capitol, Walker did not back down. Death threats? Walker did not back down. A few anti-immigration activists demanded he get rid of Liz Mair, who was tabbed as his digital strategist, and Walker, by then a presidential candidate, folded quicker than it takes to hold three separate positions on birthright citizenship. So around a week.
His debate performance yesterday was workmanlike, but he probably offered far too little too late to save him in this crowded field. With the consensus being Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina were the winners, and with Jeb Bush available for any Republican pining to support some moderate governor type, Walker has no place to turn for votes. The support he once enjoyed has completely cratered. In the latest Quinnipiac University poll, he sits in tenth place in the GOP race. He was leading the pack in a July with 18 percent. He is now at 3. He is at 2 percent in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
In the end, Walker is basically a one-issue candidate. A good issue, but with unions dying out, an issue that doesn’t drive the Right. Not all is lost, though. Walker can play an important role in 2016. Rubio or Fiorina (or someone else) could bring Walker aboard and make him their expert on labor policy. They could adopt his pro-worker labor reform plan, which would bring Walker’s Wisconsin accomplishments to Washington. Among other things, his plan offers:
- Elimination of the National Labor Relations Board.
- Elimination of the monopolistic unions at the federal level.
- If the new administration is unable to eliminate federal public employee unions, it would earmark the amount of union dues (funded by taxpayers) used for political activity by unions and withhold that money.
- The administration would campaign for all states to become right-to-work states, so unions could no longer require members to pay dues if they didn’t want to participate.
- Campaign nationally to allow workers to negotiate contracts non-collectively.
- Campaign to allow secret ballot for workers to approve strikes, rather than the open voting that is rife with union intimidation.
- Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act.
Now, naturally, most candidates would probably avoid picking this kind of fight with labor in a general election. Yet this kind of restructuring would be tremendously popular with conservatives and with many business leaders. As Walker proved in Wisconsin, they also have some traction with independents and Democrats. Walker could put to use his formidable experience fighting off union bosses. Having already dealt with the pressure of facing a well-funded special interest, and winning (on numerous times), Walker is more qualified on this front than anyone else running. If he wants to make a difference, it might be his best chance.
Because he’s not going to be president.