Wisconson Senate Democrats, Go Home and Win

Wisconsin State Senators are still in Illinois, preventing the State Senate from reaching a quorum.  Senate Republicans held a limited session today which included commending the Packers on their Super Bowl win and potentially approving Gubernatorial appointees with a simple majority vote.  The Senate also scheduled a session to begin discussing a bill that would require voters to produce identification at the polls.  It’s a controversial bill that tackles a problem that is often alleged, but almost never shown to exist – voter fraud.  The voter-fraud straw-man is being used across the country to suppress the vote, effectively disenfranchising students, low-income voters, the elderly, and Americans who have a difficult time acquiring a state ID.

The voter ID bill in Wisconsin is, unsurprisingly, opposed by Democrats.  Unfortunately, Senate Democrats are not at the State House to stand up for the rights of Americans who can’t obtain an ID because of the cost, access to state offices, or because they can’t produce the necessary supporting documents.  Meanwhile, the State Assembly has begun to debate Governor Walker’s union-busting bill.  Democrats in the Assembly, who are in the minority as well, are vociferously fighting the bill.  They have pledged to attach dozens upon dozens of amendments to derail the bill.  As debate began on Tuesday, the Democratic Assembly leader presented fifteen amendments, with more to come.  The Republicans in the Assembly have the votes to pass the bill – but the Democrats are going to fight all the way to end, highlighting the pernicious nature of the Republican proposal.

Senate Democrats can’t do that right now.  Fleeing the state en masse was a great protest.  It shut down the work of the Senate and allowed the voice of the protesters to be heard.  It forced the Governor into a corner as the unions agreed to his demands on benefits and he proved that his true motivation was to break the unions by saying no.  The Democrats even proposed a compromise in absentia to suspend collective bargaining until 2013.  The Governor Said no.

Eventually, the Senators have to come back even though the numbers are against them.  They are depriving their constituents of their representative government.  They are depriving themselves of a chance to fight this bill out loud and on the record.  They’ve already won public opinion, but when they come back they’ll lose.  If they stay out of Wisconsin until next week and blow the Friday deadline to restructure the budget, they’ll lose if this comes up again next year.  We know where Governor Walker stands.  He wants to end the unions.  He unilaterally fired union security officers at county courthouses  as Milwaukee County Executive.  The Governor and Republicans in the State Senate are determined to win this battle.  The extra $100 million dollars in debt for the current fiscal year that Democrats are holding by staying out of the state until Friday, might not matter.  The Governor has shown that he doesn’t care about the savings or the budget.

It might time to debate this bill in Madison.  The Senators need to speak to all of Wisconsin, not just those who watch MSNBC.  The State Senate Democrats have spoken eloquently to the media.  They’ve made their case to the nation and have found amazing support.

What a show of democracy it would be to get back to work, vigorously debate this bill.  They can show the Republicans for what they are – Union Busters.  Then they’ll move onto other bills with their new-found national voice and defend the rights of low-income, elderly, and student voters.  It will give backbone to Democratic lawmakers across the country.  They’ll get beat, but if they don’t fight, we all lose.

Democrats in Wisconsin can win by losing.  They have already re-energized liberals in their state and across the country.  Since 2008 the loudest people in American politics have been the Tea Party protesters.  They scared the President and Congress into watering down the healthcare bill.  Republicans and the Tea Party lost in 2008, they lost the healthcare fight.  Then they won the right to change it all by sweeping their Representatives into power in November.  Now it’s liberals’ turn to seize the moment.

The reality that Democrats face is they don’t have the numbers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, and the U.S. House.  Republicans are going to be able to propose a ridiculous federal budget, de-fund Planned Parenthood, a ensure that poor children from immigrant families aren’t eligible for financial aid.  They might even pass much of it.  They may lose, but liberals and Democrats get to fight.  They get to fill the streets of Madison, the Capitol steps in Columbus, and the chambers of legislatures across the country.  A spotlight can be shined on the fact that ideology, not leadership or what is in the best interest of their constituents is what is driving Tea Party and Republican elected officials.  But only if they show up.

In 2012,  we can “throw the bums out”.  To set that up, our elected officials have to be there to fight.  The unions and their supporters have done their part in Wisconsin and across the country.  Now it’s time for lawmakers to do theirs.  Make the light harsh, make the Senators and Representatives on the other side of the aisle defend whatever it is they are doing with more than simple sound bites.  These first months of Tea Party backed rule have given Democrats an opportunity to engage and win in the marketplace of ideas.

But only if they’re there to fight.  If this goes on too long, and the same goes for the Indiana legislators who are leaving the state, the message turns against the Democrats.  No longer will they the conscientious objectors that they are now, they’ll be deserters.

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2 Responses to “Wisconson Senate Democrats, Go Home and Win”
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  1. […] Democrats in the State Senate will have to come back and they won’t win.  They may as well fight now, when they have the support of the […]

  2. […] and thousands of jobs.  Earlier in the week I thought that it was time for the Democrats to go home and fight on the floor of the Senate.  I may have been premature.  They will have to go back at some point, […]



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