Thursday, March 03, 2011

When Will It End Mr. President?

"When will it end?" The Journal Times asks this question today in their print edition, referring, of course, to the political standoff in Madison.

The simple answer to the question is that it will end when the state senators who have left their jobs return to them. But it ain't that simple.

I have noticed the nearly complete lack of criticism of the fleeing lawmakers by prominent national Democrats. Not a senator, not a house member, not Maureen Dowd, or Paul Krugman, or even the sports guy turned politico who used to work at MSNBC, have criticized the absent senators. And most importantly, President Obama too, has been silent on the matter.

Now it is not as though these folks aren't paying attention or that they are too timid to weigh in on a contentious political matters. President Obama has weighed in publicly at least twice in support of the government unions.

What to make of the silence from President Obama on down concerning the fleeing 14 state senators? Of lesser importance, fleeing your job probably doesn't poll well with Americans. Of great importance, President Obama AGREES with the tactic. If he didn't, he would say so, if not publicly then behind the scenes. And if he said so, would all fourteen Democratic state senators defy pressure from the President of the United States? Hell no!

For over two hundred years, we have decided matters of great importance through an established political process. We vote for representatives who in turn decide important matters with input, often contentious and raucous, from anyone who wants to weigh in. Admittedly, the governing bodies in power of both parties will sometimes use their majorities to rush things through the system to their advantage. The process can be ugly but we have tended to agree that it beats all other alternatives. And in the end, there is a vote, the matter is decided. If you lose, you resolve to convince voters to toss the other guys out of office at the next election.

But now the Democratic Party, from President Obama on down, is changing the way we decide matters. If we don't like how the vote will go down, we flee to prevent a vote. We break the established rules. We replace a voting process with protesters. It is an ends justifies the means approach to governing and it is ominous for our country. And publicly at least it has the tacit approval of the President of the United States.

Now back to the "when will it end" question. I don't know, but it could and should end with President Obama saying something like:

I support unions and collective bargaining. I am discouraged that the Republican Party of Wisconsin has the votes to diminish the collective bargaining powers of the state workers unions. As important as collective bargaining rights are, there is something of much greater importance. Voting. It is how we decide matters here in America. The state senators who have fled the state need to return and do their job representing their constituents. If they don't like the result of that vote, they can work hard to convince the people of Wisconsin to move in another direction. But the people of Wisconsin recently voted for Governor Scott Walker and he has the votes to move in a direction that you may not like. But as I like to say, elections have consequences.

Like I said, this is how the standoff could and should end. But it won't, because President Obama apparently agrees with tactics that undermine 200 plus years of political tradition in our country.

12 comments:

Real Debate said...

Democrats, the party of go.

Nemo said...

"When will it end?" It's not fair to blame the missing Democrats for this one Denis. They are just not being allowed to work by management. No, the blame for this season's state government shutdown is clearly on the head of the union bosses for failing to come to a collective bargaining agreement with the 14 state workers in the Senate division of their government subsidiary. The lockout will continue until management either adopts a new business model away from their core products (graft, waste, corruption, hippies) or the business climate in this state changes back in their favor.

Denis Navratil said...

I like it Nemo! Wondering if you have any insight into the management structure. Are the union bosses middle management or is it the president?

Sean Cranley said...

When politicians have to announce something that they don't want people to notice, scrutinize, think about, they do it on a Friday afternoon as Walker did. Yeah it hits the Friday night news, but hey it's FRIDAY NIGHT! Who's paying attention? By Monday it's old news.

Then the Republicons tried to ram the vote through in four days so that by the time people became aware of all crap in the bill, which goes WAY BEYOND collective bargaining, it would be too late, a done deal. There would be no time for the public to absorb this RADICAL sneak attack bill and provide comments to their elected representatives.

It's stunt, a power grab and an affront to the deliberative democratic process. Walker should be ashamed of himself, if he were capable of that. And he should be recalled.

Thomas Jefferson said that if democracy ends on election day, you've just elected a king for four years. The 14 Democrats have done exactly the right thing in the face of a shameless and inflexible plutocratic power grab that has little to do with the budget and what Walker said he would do during his campaign for office and more to do with the Cult of Con.

And THAT is why The People are turning against him in droves (66to 33%). I was at the Brat Stop this morning for kick off of the American's for Millionaire Prosperity Stand with Wanker bus tour. 200 demonstrators were there, to "encourage" the 3 teabaggers that got on board. But hey that's proportionally better than they did in Madison on the 19th!

Nemo said...

Thanks Denis! It's hard to know exactly the nature of the unions in that they are a privately held entity and not subject to SEC filings. My understanding is that the President is a middle manager in the Executive division of their government subsidiary. He is able to make some moves on his own (his calender, staff, bowels) but is subject to disciplinary action if he oversteps his bounds. Usually a warning precedes any such action (horse head in bed, goon infestation of known haunts, hippie drum circles, Phish concert).

Nemo said...

sean! Buddy! When you typed that last "comment" did you still have those metal balls clicking away in your hand or did you put them away after you PROVED, using geometric logic, that Walker stole the strawberries? Heh.

Denis Navratil said...

Sean, if you read my post, you will find an acknowledgement that sometimes the majority party will rush legislation through. And that the process is not always pretty. However, the main thrust of my post was that, despite the warts, we have a 200 plus tradition of hashing things out by voting - the Civil War being one notable exception. Anyway, do you have anything to say about, say, whether union negotiating powers are more critical to a functioning democracy than representatives representing their constituents by voting. Or whether I am completely wrong about President Obamas tacit support of the senate Democrats tactics of fleeing the state and disrupting the political process. And finally, are you saying that the left has not yet had time to fully voice their displeasure with Walkers proposals? Stay on task Sean.

Sean Cranley said...

It is regretable that the Senate Dems have had to make a strategic withdrawal to prevent a radical power grab, perpetrated on pretext of a "crisis" (shock doctrine economics, look it up).

The Budget Dispair bill isn't a fix, it's an assualt. It's radical and it's politically motivated.

And The People of Wisconsin are finally starting to recognize who is on their side and who shills for the GOPSter Republicon Plutocrat Americans for Millionaire Prosperity piggies who will NEVER have ENOUGH for themselves and so must always be on the hunt for that posessed by others with less power than they, that they can use their paid for influence to tap into.

What I want to know is who they think will buy their crap? Cuz I'm done playing that game.

I guess that's why they don't invest in America anymore, but rather overseas. Which is why they should be taxed for infrastructure HERE to put Americans back to work and create the DEMAND here that will spur the urge to provide SUPPLY. That is the ONLY thing that will create jobs in AMERICA.

Ya wanna restore the economy and fix the deficit? End Bushy Boy's stupid wars. And tax the top 1% who now own the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90% of Americans, because they own the politicians who write the financial rules.

By the way, I'm now imposing a sanity fee. You now owe me 1.0 rationales. Got rationality?

Nemo said...

You tell 'em Queeg, er...sorry, sean. And don't forget the missing strawberries!

Denis Navratil said...

Radical, power grab, assault, pretext, crisis, blah blah blah... so there's your rationale for doing away with an established political process.

Have you ever stopped to think about just how these matters will be resolved without a process that includes voting?

The answer always and forever is violence or the threat of violence and capitulation.

It is revealing and ominous that the Democratic Party led by President Obama is willing and perhaps eager to go that route when a political process legitimized by the majority is but a few years away. Yes, if the Walker experiment fails to improve our economic situation, voters will turn on him.

But it is evident that our established political process is but one tool to get what you want. If it doesn't work, you discard it and look for the hammer. Is that the kind of country you want to live in Sean? And for the sake of argument only, let me concede that the Walker plan would be a disaster for Wisconsin. Wouldn't it be better to let that play out and then elect a new governor in four years and keep our system of government intact?

Sean Cranley said...

"Violence" Denis? "Threats of violence"? You been polluting your brain with FuxSnooze again?

You and I both know this will eventually end with votes. In the mean time the 14 have forstalled the ramming though of a radical bill full of political hackery dressed as a budget dispair measure. A bill full of extremely destructive, even deadly measures that he and his cohort never ran on during the campaign and tried to implement without public knowledge, scrutiny or debate.

It's a sneak attack, a blitz bill, sponsored by the selfish interests of the American's for Millionaire Prosperity and the Millionaire's Club for Growths.

Walker's extreme experiment is already failing and the voters are turning on him as we speak.

And no, this is not the kind of country I want to live in, where radical self interested ideologues plot in secret to privatize our public institutions and take away peoples rights for their person profit and for cynical political gamesmanship to establish one GOParty rule, where there is no room for debate, compromise or negotiation. That's your country, not mine Denis.

Denis Navratil said...

Sean, the reason I conceded, for the sake of argument, that Walkers bill would be a disaster, was so that we could proceed with the argument. Hence, "for the sake of argument". Keep that in mind as we proceed please. I know you don't like the bill. You know I do like the bill. We will not convince the other of his wayward thinking.

So this will end with a vote? When? When there have been enough extracurricular activities, the good people of Wisconsin are sick of the whole mess, and they implore a handful of Republicans to back down? Will it end in a vote that displeases the dems? Do you see a problem when either party will only vote when they are sure they will like the outcome?

Another question that you have thus far dodged. For the sake of argument, I concede that Walkers bill was a rush job. Is it still? Haven't we by now heard every conceivable argument pro or con? How much time do you need?

I realize you are just a foot soldier here Sean, but imagine you were the decider. When do you send the senators back to vote?

And if your answer is some version of "when we will win" then you are a Democrat but not a democrat.