Sun Setting on Democracy in Wisconsin

Today is a truly horrible day in Wisconsin. Without proper, legal notice, the Republican members of the Assembly and Senate convened a special committee to separate the union-busting aspects of the Budget Repair Bill into its own bill. This “nuclear option” was then rushed through the Senate with the Democratic Senators still absent and passed on an 18-1 vote. It is now in the Assembly where the minority party hopes to at least convince enough Republicans who care more about their state and our democracy than party. I have little hope.

One of the absent Senators, Julie Lassa, posted this statement to her Facebook Page:

“This is truly a sad night for Wisconsin democracy.  In the dark of night, in blatant violation of open meeting laws, and without even having a bill in front of them, the Republican leaders of the Assembly and Senate used a shady procedural move to end fifty years of workers’ rights in Wisconsin.  Deaf to the pleas of the overwhelming majority of Wisconsin citizens, Governor Walker and Republican legislators have demonstrated absolute contempt for the democratic process.  They should be ashamed of themselves.”

Ashamed is “Wisconsin Nice”, this act will be challenged in the courts, but currently, the GOP holds a 4-3 majority in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In addition to attacking labor unions, denying collective bargaining rights, this bill will also allow the Governor and his henchmen to amend legislation through administrative rule. It doesn’t just end 50 years of worker rights, it ends 163 years of honest government in Wisconsin.

This may end up being a ploy to force the Democrats to return–but what will they return to? If the Democrats do return, the only honorable act in this dishonorable institution will be to resign and join the people outside.

The sun hasn’t set yet, but it is getting quite dark in Wisconsin.

As I write this, thousands of workers descended upon the Capitol. The police refused to let people despite a court order. They even had the audacity to accuse the prostestors of violating a court order. The crowd started finding their way in through open windows and any other means while thousands chanted and pounded on the doors of the People’s House. I read reports that reporters on the second floor could feel the vibrations of the pounding. A veritable human earthquake of righteous anger.

Eventually, the police gave way and the Capitol is now filled “to the rafters” with people. Madison High School students will be leading a walk-out tomorrow. I can only hope that every worker in Wisconsin will follow them.


About John McNamara

John spent 26 years with Union Cab of Madison Cooperative and currently helps develop co-ops in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration and Masters in Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions from Saint Mary's University.
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