laceblade: Toby, Josh, and Donna of The West Wing, talking intensely (WW: 20 Hours in America)
laceblade ([personal profile] laceblade) wrote2012-07-10 09:04 am

First use of the Wisconsin protests in fiction?

So The West Wing is my favorite TV show of all-time, just a nose ahead of Buffy.
A few years ago, I was really disappointed with Aaron Sorkin's mostly-autobiographical Studio 60, which I believe was objectively terrible.

Still, I gave The Newsroom a chance, and I'm mostly digging it. MacKenzie is obviously my favorite, although I also love Jim.
The show is typical Sorkin, full of diatribes and elitism, and its "Aaron Sorkin, have you ever actually listened to women talk to one another?!," but it's ultimately very watchable, and I like it.

But! I was here to talk briefly about a thing that happened in the show's third episode, which covers part of Election Night in 2010. Most of the attention is given to Tea Party candidates, and Republicans taking over legislatures and governorships all over the country. The news team is prophetic (because they're really smart, have you noticed how much more perceptive these people are than anyone else in news?!), predicting the ultimate showdown over the debt ceiling "crisis," and John Boehner's inability to reign in his new freshmen.

When discussing Scott Walker's win in Wisconsin, MacKenzie (the show's Executive Producer) says something like, "Isn't he the guy who was talking about busting unions?" and Will (the anchor) mutters something affirmative in response.
Even though this show is fictional, it takes place a few years behind present-day, and the "current" events are all real, actual things. And I kind of worry about our cultural memory, or how people in general view the Wisconsin union protests of 2011.
It is not true to say that Scott Walker campaigned on the "union-busting" issue, or that on Election Night, anyone outside his own team would have had any knowledge about his future plans for unions. Scott Walker largely built his campaign around ending high-speed rail in Wisconsin, and before he had even taken office, he got the previous/still-at-that-point Gov. Jim Doyle (D) to return the federal money to the Obama administration, who spent it somewhere else.
Walker spewed a lot of rhetoric about fiscal responsibility, but mostly focused on how he would get Wisconsin's economy back into gear.

He absolutely did not campaign on union-busting, and I actually dare anyone to find a single quote given by Walker prior to January/February 2011 about his plans for public sector unions in Wisconsin.
The fact is, there aren't any.

I think that fictional representations of this nature are really unfortunate.
During the recall campaign, a lot of Walker supporters were disgusted with Walker haters. A prominent slogan on yard signs and billboards was, "Recall Santa! I didn't get what I wanted," implying that elections have consequences, and you get what you voted for, and etc.
This really sucks, and if our cultural memory hold that Wisconsin knew that Scott Walker was planning to kill public sector unions and voted for him anyway, then yeah, we look like a bunch of petulant whiners.
We didn't know, and some people would not have voted for him in the first place if they had known.
Some might say, "Well, he would have won anyway, since he survived the recall election."
But we don't know the truth about that, either. Polls showed that voters overwhelmingly felt that Walker had not committed any acts worthy of a recall, regardless of whether they agreed with his union-busting legislation.

All that said, I really do hope that there is an episode about the Wisconsin union protests, because I would probably blog the shit out of it.

ETA: I can't believe I'm doing this, but Jake Tapper's review of the show is pretty fucking awesome. I guess I like Tapper way more when his shit is written down, as opposed to watching him? Who knew!