Simon Bridges is touted as a future leader of the National party. But what are his credentials?
At the moment it appears that his sole qualification is that he looks charming.
If, however he could match Scott Walker’s achievements, especially in destroying unions, then he might have a chance.
The source of Walker’s appeal—his singular calling card, in fact—is not hard to identify. In 2011, the governor signed legislation stripping most of Wisconsin’s public-sector unions of their rights to collective bargaining and to require dues from members, essentially busting those unions. He went on to survive a bitter 2012 recall effort backed by national unions and to win reelection in 2014 in a state Barack Obama won in 2012. He then signed “right-to-work” legislation that massively undercut the state’s dwindling private-sector unions, too. In his twenty-minute CPAC speech, Walker referred to his battles with labor six times directly and as many times indirectly. It is the core of his message.
Scott Walker has been extremely successful at union busting.
In his CPAC speech and subsequent ones, Walker likened his clash with Wisconsin’s public-sector unions to Ronald Reagan’s 1981 firing of 11,000 striking air traffic controllers, thus presenting himself as a rightful heir of the party’s patron saint. He extended that connection to foreign policy. A few days after his CPAC speech, Walker told a Palm Beach Club for Growth audience that Reagan’s firing of the controllers was “the most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime” because “it sent a message around the world [that] we weren’t to be messed with.” Walker’s similar toughness under fire with the unions, in other words, makes him ready to be commander in chief. “If I can take on 100,000 protesters,” he told the crowd at CPAC, “I can do the same across the world.” The mainstream press treated such comparisons as bumbling efforts to cover the fact that, as a governor and former county executive, he has scant foreign policy experience. But conservative audiences loved the show of resolution. Walker wants tough strength to be his calling card; his campaign book is called, not coincidentally, Unintimidated.