“Republicans in Wisconsin,” Cronon wrote in his op-ed. in the New York Times on March 21, “are seeking to reverse civic traditions that for more than a century have been among the most celebrated achievements not just of their state, but of their own party as well.”
While not all states have the strong traditions that Wisconsin does, the civic traditions in many states are being challenged by the new and radical legislation being introduced. Much of it, as Cronon reports, is not home-grown legislation but part of boilerplate legislation developed by ALEC. The organization’s strategy is that by introducing these radical bills across the nation at the state level in a shotgun approach, they will make progress in reaching their goals incrementally. The organization notes that only 12 to 15 percent of the hundreds of bills introduced in state legislatures each year pass into law but over time, these laws promise to have a huge impact.
Further, using a political strategy that writer Naomi Klein has recently dubbed a “shock and awe,” the proponents of this legislation have often been part of creating conditions in which they use the pressure of a crisis atmosphere to push through their “reforms.” In Wisconsin, for example, Scott Walker was elected with a surplus but quickly funded several new conservative projects and thereby helped bring about a budget crisis. Similarly, at least half of Ohio’s $8 billion deficit was generated by sweeping tax cuts, including a 21 percent reduction in the state’s progressive income tax."