As I observed the protests and political gamesmanship going on in Madison, Wisconsin, I tried at first to understand what was going on, then why it was going on, and then what the outcome will be.
Now I realize GOP Governor Scott Walker may have killed his own momentum. Walker has been trying to effectively bust the union for state workers, leading to the huge demonstrations-that much is clear. He got some early traction among the citizens for his budget restructuring, then it disintigrated into a union-busting measure. He claimed unions weren’t willing to make concessions. They made concessions. He claimed the unions wouldn’t allow wage or pension freezes. they said no problem. Then he said Wisconsin must do away with collective bargaining for state workers. Bad, bad Governor! Now he’s being challenged and he may well lose this fight before it begins.
As a result, all of Wisconsin’s Democratic State Senators left the state in order to deprive the Senate of a quorum, so the bill can’t be voted on. We all know that, but I have some family near Madison, and according to them, it wasn’t exactly a case of the Senators fleeing with police chasing them. Most are quartered in a hotel near Rockford, Illinois, and are content to wait out Walker’s efforts. Walker has given the Senators a Tuesday deadline to come back and vote, or he says he’ll begin laying off state employees.
The Democratic Senator’s response — “Go ahead, make our day.”
They have opted to remain a united front, and call the Governor’s bluff. Walker has made ham-handed statements along the lines of “This is our moment,” and compared himself to Ronald Reagan and the busting of the Air Traffic Controllers union. He also revealed during a prank phone call that this whole thing is a strtaegy to bust the union, which surprised no one. He also tried to intimidate Democrats by sending state troopers to their homes to wait for them should they come back. There is no law or provisions in Wisconsin’s Constitution which allows this kind of arrest under any circumstances, so Walker’s not being very subtle, or smart.
Right or wrong, I applaud the Democrats who are holding out. They truly think they are doing the right thing and it seems to be spreading. Ohio’s legislature has tried something similar, and saw massive demonstrations that shut down portions of downtown Columbus, and Indianapolis had similar scenes when copycat legislation came up there last week. Some of those Dems also went to Illinois to hide out. (I think I need to buy a hotel in Illinois!)
It looks like Democrats and the dreaded liberals, have had enough. Whether they support unions or not, it seems this may be the first battleground in the Dem/GOP fight for the White House in 2012. The right has been shouting about “taking back America,” at the top of their lungs, but it looks as though the liberals have found a backbone. Will Walker actually begin layoffs? I doubt it, but if he does, it could even spell recall for him according to some I’ve spoken with in Madison.
Last time any state recalled a Governor was California in 2003, and Arnold was waiting there for HIS moment. Who could be the next Governor of Wisconsin? Brett Favre still has a house in Green Bay. I’m just sayin….