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The resounding failure by unions and Democrats to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on Tuesday is a significant moment for democratic self-government. It shows that an aroused electorate can defeat a furious and well-fed special interest that wants a permanent, monopoly claim on taxpayer wallets.

The crisis unfolding in Europe is less about the euro than it is about whether the union-dominated entitlement state can reform so it can pay its bills. In Wisconsin as in Greece and France, unions and the political left were trying to demonstrate that power and privileges once granted are eternal. They wanted to run Mr. Walker out of Madison as an object lesson that trying to limit collective bargaining and mandatory dues collection for government unions will end your political career.

One of the stranger analyses of the Wisconsin brawl has been that it could have been avoided if only Mr. Walker had sought "consensus." We're all in this together, yada, yada. Tell that to Governor John Kasich, who passed similar reforms in Ohio to much less fanfare, only to see unions use a referendum last year to repeal his collective-bargaining changes. Public unions are never going to cede their dominance over taxpayers without a fight.

And it's worth recalling how brutally they fought. They occupied the state capital for weeks. They harassed GOP lawmakers and their families, tried to recall state Senators and defeat a conservative Supreme Court judge, while Democratic lawmakers abdicated their legislative duty by fleeing the state. They lost in the end because Mr. Walker and Republicans rode out the storm, passed their reforms, and are now able to show Wisconsin voters the beneficial results.

The longer-term impact of Mr. Walker's vindication will depend on the lesson other political leaders take from it. Some 30 states allow collective bargaining for public unions, and removing that power is the kind of core reform that makes spending control, school choice and property-tax reductions easier. It should be a major goal of reformers who want to limit the size of government.

One disappointment is that Mitt Romney failed to appear in Wisconsin during the recall campaign. We doubt the recall vote is a prediction of what will happen in November, and Mr. Romney will have to make his own sale to Badger State voters. But the presumptive Presidential nominee could do worse than associate himself with the GOP reform Governors who were elected in 2010 and are turning around their states. If voters are in a mood to reward leaders willing to tackle hard problems, Mr. Romney should meet their expectations.