Feb 252011
 

…and probably none of yours.

Like many of you, I have been following the budget and union event in Wisconsin.  I’ve probably been following for longer than you because I live next door and this issue has been in the news for years here.  Yes, I have some opinions on the matter.  No, I don’t care to share most of them.  In fact, if it weren’t for my husband pushing me to write something about this you wouldn’t be reading this blog post.  So I’ll voice these two thoughts:  I find it unethical to try to affect the outcome of events in a state that I don’t pay taxes in, yet I see what is happening there as a serious threat to our form of government.  And both of these opinions have been formed by my religious beliefs.

Over my years as a Hellenic Polytheist I’ve become more and more libertarian in my political leanings.  I think that is a natural result of delving into both the ethical backbone of the religion and studying that in the context of the culture if was practiced in.  The Greek city-states were autonomous and were very different from one another.  When they weren’t waging war on one another they stayed out of each others business and let each city govern as it saw fit.  The city-states joined together to form defense leagues to repel foreign invaders and they cooperated for religious festivals.  This was a very early form of Federalism, which is a core concept in US libertarianism.  It had it’s weaknesses, but many of those weaknesses are minimized and the strengths of freedom and diversity are increased in modern Federalism.  Add to this the Delphic Maxim of ‘When you are a stranger, act like it’ – meaning that when you are outside of your home or city-state you should be act like a polite guest.  Don’t act like your way is the best and everyone should conform to you.

All of this leads me to be very uncomfortable with people traveling to Wisconsin to join in protests – on either side of this issue.   The citizens of Wisconsin are the ones who should be free to decide what their future should be as they are the ones who will live that future.  They are the ones who pay the taxes, union dues, and have children in the schools.  The protestors from outside the state will hop back on their buses and go home and that will be that for them.  I also wonder why people from outside the state, who don’t know or live with the complexities of the situation on a daily basis, feel compelled tell Wisconsinites what to do.  Are we smarter than the citizens of that state?  Do we not think that they are capable of deciding important issues like this?  When I enter another state or another person’s home I am very conscious of the fact that I am a guest and I try to act like one.  I have made a conscious decision in my life to live out the ethics of my religion in all aspects of my life and I honor the best ideals that my religion has brought forward into modern times.

There is one thing happening in Wisconsin that I will speak about – the Democrat Senators who have fled the state to stop the government from being able to function. On important issues like budget, a quorum of Senators must be in session to allow a vote to take place.  By fleeing the state, these Democrat Senators ensure that a quorum cannot be achieved.  Although I won’t join in the efforts to recall those Senators as I am not a voter in their districts, I see their actions as a threat to our form of government – representational democracy.  Another gift of ancient Athens and Rome which the USA has refined under the blessings of the Patron Goddess of our country, Columbia.

While many focus on elections as the heart of our republic, the true test of our form of government comes after the election. If the losing party recognize their loss and continues to participate, then representative democracy works. When the losing side refuses to participate and boycotts governance, as is happening in Wisconsin, then our form of government STOPS WORKING.  Our form of government rests on two things – free and open elections by an informed populace and the willingness of minority parties to continue to participate in governing.

It’s no fun to be in the minority, to be in the party that loses heavily in an election.  The GOP experienced that in our Federal government and had to stand by as laws were passed that they vehemently opposed.  The GOP didn’t leave the country, though. They complained, they grandstanded, but they participated in governance.  On Bills they opposed, they voted against the Bill and then they used that vote as part of their platform in the next election.

In Wisconsin, the budget crisis and public unions were a large part of the political discussion during the last election.  Republican ad Democrat candidates put forth their ideas on how to deal with the crisis and the voters cast their ballots.  In the last election they did something extremely unusual, especially for Wisconsin.  They voted in a Republican House, Senate, and Governor. Democrats became the minority.  But instead of doing their duty, upholding their sworn and sacred oath, they fled the state.  And that is a very dangerous thing for them to have done.  When elected officials do things like skip the state to shut down the government because you lost the last election, it puts our form of government in danger. It thwarts the will of the voters, it breaks the bonds of oaths, and it puts us out of balance with Columbia – which can bring Nemesis into the picture.  If it can’t be corrected, we could slip further into inbalance with the scales swinging wildly back and forth.  After all, don’t you think that when the Democrats are back in power, the other Republicans could use the same tactics?  What if this becomes more normal?

I’ll keep watching events in Wisconsin, but this is about as involved as I will get in the discussion.  And you certainly won’t see me crossing the border to join in the protests.

 Posted by at 10:13 am

  66 Responses to “Wisconsin is none of my business…”

  1. i love everything about this post.
    thanks for putting my own alarmed and whirling thoughts into such cogent form.
    it’s been a bit painful being even a little right of the far left on this issue, and not easy to voice my rather stumbling opinions without getting angrily shouted down.
    khairete
    suz

  2. Cara: You write, “I find it unethical to try to affect the outcome of events in a state that I don’t pay taxes in, yet I see what is happening there as a serious threat to our form of government.”

    This is something that could have been said either by opponents of slavery or by slave-holders, in the years before the Civil War, could it not? This is a pretty classic States’ Rights argument, on at least one level. But, unlike the Greek city-states, the United States are… well, united. Under a Constitution, and with an obligation to more than mutual defense. If I see a serious moral issue in another state, I do not think I am exempt from speaking out on it because I do not pay taxes in that state. For one thing, I do pay taxes to the same Federal government, and all of the states accept payments from the Federal government for one or another program, without exception.

    Even if I were to admit the argument that it is morally problematic for me to speak out about, or in, Wisconsin on what I believe to be a moral issue, on the grounds that I am not a resident of that state, I would be thwarted in that logic by the fact that, with the bankrolling of the AstroTurf campaigns of conservative politicians by moneyed interests from outside Wisconsin, that horse has left the barn. The presence of outside supporters–a minority of the protesters in Madison, by any estimate–is nothing like the level of outside “interference” from large corporations and billionaires–something likely only to increase in the wake of Citizen’s United.

    If we accept the notion that it is wrong for people to take to the streets in Wisconsin if they live elsewhere, we are accepting that it is fine for corporations to be represented in “democracies” in any jurisdiction, but not for individual men and women.

    And that’s just insane.

    • I also wrote, “All of this leads me to be very uncomfortable with people traveling to Wisconsin to join in protests – on either side of this issue.”

      Both sides of this issue have money and people flowing into Wisconsin and I find that very unethical. People point out that this issue may soon come to their state as a reason why they wish to affect the outcome in Wisconsin. What they don’t take into account is that each state has different labor laws and different circumstances. What may be a solution in one state may not work in another – or the citizens may favor other solutions for reasons that seem absurd if it were proposed where you live. Does your state require, allow, or ban collective bargaining? Do you (plural, general) know? I’ve read some fairly passionate statements from people who had no idea about the status of collective bargaining in their state and cannot outline what the pros and cons are for collective bargaining. (Hint – if state governments require collective bargaining you can bet it isn’t for solely altruistic reasons)

      When – IF – this situation comes to your (general, plural) state learn all you can about the issue and if you feel passionate about it, get involved. If you think it may be an issue for your state soon, perhaps your time and energy would be better spent preparing for that, instead of hoping on a bus to protest in Wisconsin.

      I’ve been through labor disputes and grew up in a town that was torn apart by a labor dispute. 25 years later and the town still hasn’t healed. (John Cougar can go fuck himself) What was most destructive was outsider influence. They turned it violent, poured money into fighting but none into helping, and then left when they got tired. Meanwhile – all of us who lived there got to live through and suffer for decades. Outsiders don’t really care about you and your life. They have their own interests that may overlap with yours – but they will chew you up to achieve their goals. They don’t bother to learn about what is specific to you, what special needs your area has. And they will oppose you coming to a compromise if they feel it would be better for them and their national agenda to keep the fight going. They aren’t the ones who have to sit down to family dinners where some are on one side of the dispute and others aren’t.

      Trust the people of Wisconsin to do what the think is best for their state. Give them the breathing space to deal with this without outside involvement. This is difficult for everyone involved – financially and emotionally. Let’s not make it harder on them.

    • Cat,

      I completely agree with you on this one. In fact, I would state this particular case more strongly – I would say that the issue in Wisconsin is not merely a moral one, but an issue of basic human rights. Workers’ rights and collective bargaining are protected under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and it is perfectly reasonable – indeed, ethically imperative – for every citizen of this country to protest the violation of basic human rights wherever they occur. To think that we might use the human rights violations in other countries to justify xenophobic rhetoric and war-mongering, while turning a blind eye to similar violations within our own borders seems not only intellectually dishonest, but ethically hypocritical.

      To place the minutia of local government processes over the rights of human beings – to worry that demonstrations of solidarity with Wisconsin workers by people living elsewhere (most of whom are not going to Wisconsin, as Cara implies, but gathering in their local communities to send a clear message to their own state legislators) is somehow irreparably damaging the processes of governance – is (a) to ignore the long history of civil society (and civil disobedience) as a necessary counterbalance to institutional government, and (b) to turn the government institution itself into a kind of idol that cannot be challenged, changed or questioned even when it undermines people’s well-being.

      As Cara points out in her response to you, Cat, the national attention being paid to Wisconsin workers’ rights issues at the moment is encouraging many more people to ask questions of their own local labor laws, to inform themselves and care about this issue. Personally, I find it hard to reconcile her appeal for everyone to pay more attention to these types of local political issues, with her attempts to sweep this particular issue under the rug by asking us to ignore what’s happening in Wisconsin and what we might learn from it.

      • Ali – perhaps someday you will read what I have written rather than what you add or subtract to it in your mind.

        I haven’t said that people shouldn’t follow what is happening or to ignore it. I’ve certainly been following this, for a bit over a year. What I question the ethics are outside groups traveling to Wisconsin to protest and making active attempts to influence what happens there. The reason I choose not to, despite friends asking me to go, is that I don’t live there and I don’t have to live with the consequences of what results.

        I have faith in the people of Wisconsin that they have a fuller understanding of what the issues are, what solutions may be best for them in their unique situation, and that they are fully capable of resolving the situation. Their solution may or may not be one that I would choose, but it’s not my place to attempt to impose my will on them.

        Others disagree. Not because they have a primary concern for the people in that state, at least that’s not what they are expressing. They say they have an interest and should affect events in Wisconsin because they are concerned about how this could affect them in the future.

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  4. “When the losing side refuses to participate and boycotts governance, as is happening in Wisconsin, then our form of government STOPS WORKING.”

    To my way of thinking, what they’re doing is standing up for their constituents. As most of us have heard (from Walker’s own words, when he thought he was talking to a Koch brother), he wants to trick the Democrats into coming back to force a vote. He is unwillingly to negotiate, and at this point, even if he said he were, we’d be a fool to believe it, as he said it would only be a pretense. And as we also heard from his own lips, this is less about Wisconsin’s budget problem than a hoped-for domino effect that would weaken the unions in other states, and eventually the private sector.

    Yes Wisconsin has a budget problem. And like most of our budget problems in this country, it’s largely to do with the fact that we’re giving tax *breaks* to the rich and to the corporations. They’ve had these cuts since GWB, and have yet to show that they are effective in creating jobs or a stable economy. IMO asking the rich to go back to the pre-cut levels is more than acceptable. Why should only the lower classes have to sacrifice in times of economic distress? Why are those who can least afford it shouldering the brunt of the burden?

    As far as unions go, they’re really the only defense workers have against the flatlining wages and poor working conditions that many of us face. They put workers on a level playing field with management. And they are few and far between since the union-busting of the Reagan era. If it weren’t so hard to form new unions, perhaps this country would have something resembling a living wage.

    At any rate, wages and benefits in this matter are a moot point. The public workers in Wisconsin have already agreed to the financial cuts they’ve been asked to take, and did so early on. They’re simply unwilling to give up their right to collectively bargaining. And I fully support that, and the Democrats who actually showed enough spine to stand up for them. Elected officials need to remember they represent all their constituents, not just those who agree with them. Those Democrats are standing up for the other side to keep their voices from being silenced.

    In the end, Walker’s right: there will be a domino effect here, and as someone who wishes she had the protections of a union, I hope those dominoes don’t fall Walker’s way.

  5. There are several issues I have with your post.

    First, there was no “budget crisis” in Wisconsin until the new governor and the Republicans passed huge tax cuts for their wealthy friends.

    Second, the basis of America’s industrial strength came as a direct result of men and women workers coming together to fight for things like the 40-hour work week and child labor laws. They are men and women, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters. They are workers. By using the term “union” rather than acknowledge who they are, you have eliminated their very humanity.

    Third, America is not a “sit on your @$$” country. It is a participatory republic. Our responsibility as citizens does NOT end at the ballot box. That is only one aspect of our governmental system. As citizens it is our responsibility and duty to raise our voices and make our opinions known. Your “vote and then shut up” attitude is the very antithesis of America. My guess is that your education excluded the struggles of workers. That’s not your fault–it was one of the first things Republican legislators fought to remove from school curricula starting in the 1980s.

    I respectfully disagree with Cat C-B. Your comments are not “insane,” they’re just based on a lack of information and education. Your so-called libertarianism, instead of helping individuals, will only lead to a lowering of social and economic standards except for the 2% of our society, the extreme wealthy, who control over 70% of the economy and now, because of recent Supreme Court decisions, may now legally buy elections.

    I would suggest that rather than living in a world of delightfully perfect libertarians you look at the real world and the fight to encourage freedom, civil rights, and human rights.

    • To be fair, I did not say that Cara’s comments were insane.

      I think that the logical consequences of taking them at face value and acting in accordance with them would, ultimately, be shown to be insane. This was the meaning of my remark.

    • Wisconsin, like many states, has had a budget deficit since 2000. Also like many states – it became a true crisis in the last few years.
      2009 – $110 Billion in the hole
      2010 – 191 Billion in the hole

      They do project that the tax incentives granted to businesses to either lure them into maintaining a presence and jobs in Wisconsin or bringing in new businesses to Wisconsin could increase the budget deficit IF it doesn’t result in increased tax revenue from these businesses and their employees. The projected deficit for 2011 is $130 Billion.

      http://www.wicounties.org/files/fe4d1f8ec6874d7233adff6b5a41a39f.pdf

      • You’re deliberately misrepresenting the link you provided. The report you just cited says, in more than one place, the projected budget deficit is projected to be $3.6 billion, not $191 billion. The author cites budget shortfalls but he doesn’t say anywhere the projected deficit is total $191 billion. For crying out loud California, the 9th largest economy in the world, has a budget deficit of $25 billion.

        Please read your sources before citing them. Also going to echo the previous comments on the nonexistent fiscal crisis which I’ve written on and others have hammered to death.

  6. Excuse me. It’s “Democratic” senators, not “Democrat.” That formation is an invention of the Tea Party and other neo-conservatives who wish to denigrate the party by deliberately misusing the word. Kindly do better.

    • According to the AP manual (we’re trying to use that or Reuters on PNC sites) it is the Democratic Party, but Democrat Senators.

      Examples listed in the AP Stylebook are:
      Democratic Sen. Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota said …
      Sen. Humphrey also spoke. The Minnesota Democrat said….

      • Eh, I think Lysana is correct, even using your own examples. The difference between the first AP example and the second AP example is that example 1 uses the adjective “Democratic” while example 2 uses the noun “Democrat.” In your piece the sentence is: “…the Democrat Senators who have fled the state to stop the government from being able to function.” You are describing the Senators as members of the Democratic Party, the same way that the first AP example is describing Hubert Humphrey as a Democratic senator. The only difference is that your use is plural whereas the AP example is singular.

        • When you are talking about a named politician, like Democratic Senator Humphrey, you use ‘Democratic.’ When you are not using a proper name, you use ‘Democrat,’ plural or singular. So in the AP example it is Minnesota Democrats or Minnesota Democrat. That is how I’ve always read that, but I could be wrong.

          I’ll look into it further, but it really isn’t a Tea Party conspiracy.

          ETA: Checked with an ABC news producer I know and she sent me this rule of thumb for using Democrat and Democratic. “Franken is a Democratic Senator” or “Senator Franken is a Democrat,” is standard American usage, while “Franken is a Democrat Senator” and “Franken is a Democratic Senator” are both standard.

          • Democrat is the noun, Democratic is the adjective. Democrats are members of the Democratic Party, etc.

            As William said, your own examples are perfect usage. “Minnesota Democrat” = adjective/noun, for lack of a better description from this non-English major who can’t describe this stuff well. What kind of Democrat? One from Minnesota. Whereas “Democratic Senator Hubert Humphrey” would be, what kind of Senator is Hubert Humphrey? A Democratic one.

            Easiest suggestion? Anytime you think of using “Democrat”, replace it with “Republic” and ask yourself if the sentence still operates properly for you. If it sounds like it doesn’t make sense, swap it to “Democratic”. Not using it as a swipe at the Republican Party, mind. The example just works.

            Example: “A republic form of government” doesn’t work. “A republican form of government” does. “A democrat form of government” doesn’t work. “A democratic form of government” does. Try it out.

          • And in response to your ETA:

            As for who you ask for references, I would encourage you to consider asking Democrats what they would prefer to be called. An ABC News producer is not who you should be contacting for your reference, you should be contacting the Democratic National Committee (or, as an alternative, DFL in Minnesota). Members of the party should be called what they wish to be called, not what others insist they should be called. You could ask Rita how to use the words, for that matter (although she’ll say the same as me).

            • Well..no. The press uses either AP or Reuters stylebook. That’s what we are using as the PNC is media.

              • So then why are you asking an ABC News producer, when you have cited examples from the AP Style Guide and been shown by multiple people how those uses are both proper and not what you’re doing in your writing?

                I’m sorry, but you have three people in your comment thread who are telling you that you’re wrong, and are using your AP citations to prove it.

                To be frank, it’s either “Democratic senators” and “Democratic candidates” or the rest of the writing is not worth reading, unless you are only seeking to preach to your conservative choir. I mean, it’s your right to use the pejorative — you can call me Frank instead of Ed too, but you’ll be wrong.

                I’ll be skipping your articles from now on.

                • Because I’m out of practice working with AP style. It’s been 16 years since I produced the news and she’s current on how to apply AP style. She’s a professional climbing to the top of her profession and a wonderful mentor. ‘Democrat’ is not a pejorative. I mean…it’s not like I’m calling anyone a ‘teabagger’ or anything.

                  If you wish to skip my articles because I’m going to abide by AP style, that’s your choice. However – I think it is more likely that you wish to skip my articles because I represent a viewpoint that you don’t agree with and it causes discomfort. We humans tend to hang out with people who hold the same views as we do.

                  • If you say so. Again, go ask Rita if she thinks that’s the truth. As the member of the party who has been the most vocal advocate for winning back the part of the Tea Party who doesn’t think Obama is a secret Muslim, I call BS.

                    And not a pejorative? From the New York Times, all the way back in 1984:

                    “Representative Jack F. Kemp, Republican of upstate New York, placed himself in an unusual position today. He defended Democrats before the Republican platform committee.

                    When a delegate asked unanimous consent to change a platform amendment to read the ”Democrat Party” instead of ”Democratic Party,” Mr. Kemp objected, saying that would be ”an insult to our Democratic friends.” The committee later decided to drop the issue because it lacked unanimous support.”

                    I’d think a Republican vice-presidential candidate might be “in the know” enough to know the freakin’ term is a pejorative, Cara.

                    • Ed – In case you missed it this is from my first post, “According to the AP manual (we’re trying to use that or Reuters on PNC sites) it is the Democratic Party”.

                    • I think it’s pretty awful that you continue to defend this. Three of your readers called you on it. All said the same, using the noun as an adjective is a pejorative. Google it. I really don’t care what the AP says on the issue, they are not always right. Since the pejorative has existed for seventy years, it has BECOME standard. We’ve consistently protested the usage.

                      I mean, “ain’t” made the dictionary too, but I’m betting your ENG101 teacher wouldn’t allow it.

                      I’m not sure why it’s so difficult for you to call people what they wish to be called. NPR completely banned the usage out of respect. Rush Limbaugh uses it constantly. Ponder that.

          • Huh, I did not know that. Go figure.

    • Also – little known fact for the nerds among us. The first name of the Democratic Party was….*drum roll* The Republican Party. Their political opponents called them the Democratic Party as a way to demonize them as some wild group in favor of mob rule (democracy).

      • And those who currently refer to them as the “Democrat Party” are doing so in an attempt to frame them as not being democratic.

        Your references to style guides notwithstanding, the usage “Democrat Party” is relatively new, at least in terms of becoming widespread, and is largely restricted to the same people who refer to last year’s health care reforms as “Obamacare.”

        • (This comment is not directed to Cat, but more of an ‘in general’ comment)

          Yes, there are people who refer to the party as the ‘Democrat Party’ and they do so as a way to take a poke at them. I am not one of those people and I did not do so anywhere in my post.

          I’m amazed at the melt down that the use of the word ‘Democrat’ has caused. It is in standard use and used by the DNC. (Democrats.org anyone?) When I read that objections were raised, I acted in good faith by contacting a professional journalist in a major market to inquire if my usage was incorrect as we are trying to comply with either AP or Reuters on PNC outlets. (We are still hashing out which style guide to go with for sure – and we are doing this to be a more professional news organization, we’re trying folks, really!) She confirmed that I was using it correctly, but that there was an alternate as well.

          This reminds me of the angst that readers went through when I wrote about Columbia and made a reference to Speaker Pelosi – asking that Columbia guide her and wishing that Her statue was still in the niche behind the Speaker. Readers were all over me for slamming on Pelosi. I addressed it, saying that wasn’t what was in my mind when I wrote it, but people believed what they wished to believe. Yet no one took offense when I wrote the same thing about our current Speaker. I feel our Speakers, more than ‘regular’ members of Congress need Columbia’s guidance. Man, do they need it.

          Yes, we all have differing political beliefs. Yes, we can get passionate about them. But if we default to a position of assuming the worst motivations of those who hold different views as a group, we will never achieve civil dialogue. Civil dialogue isn’t about the words we use or the tone of voice – it can only come from the heart. Yes, there are individuals whom I have learned over time do have base motivations. I’m sure there are people you feel the same about. But I never assume that those on the Left are operating from anything other than a sincere desire to be decent people to their fellow man.

          There are some of you who are regular readers of this blog who vehemently disagree with my views, and yet we have become friends. We have built up respect for one another and I’m honored by your friendship. Just that alone has made this year worthwhile. The cherry on top has been hearing from and interacting with people who have all kinds of views. I’ve learned so much and I wish I could talk in person with many of you as I know I would learn 9X more.

          Just hang in there with me and the other writers on this editorial project.

          • democrats.org != democrat.org, keep in mind.

            Yes, some of us are upset about it, because, again, it isn’t standard usage — it’s usage that has become standard by repeated use of the term by people seeking to antagonize Democrats.

            Now considering that even your source presented you with the fact that you have two choices in how you can present this — one which creates a storm among the readers, and one that doesn’t — I’m left curious as to why you would insist on using the one that antagonizes people when you have a choice in the matter, even according to your sources.

            That’s what it comes down to. There is only one reason left to continue to insist on using the term, and that is to antagonize people. You have options and you refuse to utilize them, instead choosing to defend the term we dislike. Why? Why is it that you continue to do so?

            At this point I am amazed that you are insisting as strongly on not clicking “edit” and dropping in a couple “ic”s to make the readers happy (and still comply with your style guide) as Walker is on busting the unions. That tells me that it has nothing to do with proper writing style and everything to do with annoying liberal readers.

            • Ed,

              If my usage was wrong, I would have changed it. If anyone had asked me politely, I would have used the alternative. Neither has happened. Consider that when asking me “Why?”

              BTW – are you still Vice Chair of the Kennebec County Democrats? And have you removed all ‘teabagger’ references from the blog posts on the Kennebec Blues site?

              • *shrug* I don’t remember being impolite about it. I also could care less about all of the political arguing, for me it was just an issue of grammar. If a manual that the PNC wants to use dictates it is done otherwise, then so be it.

              • No, and no. And Cat, if no one else, was polite.

                And if you want to use your “Democrat Party” references on a Republican Party or Tea Party site, that would be different, I don’t go to Limbaugh or the GOP and complain about that stuff. Leave the partisan jabs at the partisan sites. Funny, how almost none of the discussion about your post had to do with unions and Wisconsin, because we spent our time arguing your choice of words. I suppose if that’s how you’d like discussions to continue on your posts, that’s your right, but I expected better.

                You used the term on what is supposed to be a bipartisan news/opinion outlet. One that seems to have a purpose more designed to inform than light fires under people for personal amusement.

                • Maybe I’m missing something, but where, precisely, did Ms. Schultz refer to the “Democrat Party,” as you seem to want to allege? I only saw her referring to “Democrat Senators,” which seems accurate to me if it describes people who are both democrats (i.e. members of the Democratic Party) and senators, and Democrat candidates.

              • While strongly disagreeing with the most of the political philosophies held by the Tea Party activists, I know that I, for one, avoid the pejorative term “Tea Bagger” because I am aware that it is offensive.

                I’ll even concede that it is more obviously offensive than the term “Democrat party” (though not more offensive than some of the terms in use by the Tea Party folks, candidly). However, I’d advise avoiding any term that is pejorative in the eyes of a group described by it, if only because it is difficult to persuade anyone who feels that you have just insulted them.

                If your intention is persuasion, rather than insult, it’s a point worth considering. (In my very much less than humble opinion! *laughing*)

      • Cara: “little known fact for the nerds among us. The first name of the Democratic Party was….*drum roll* The Republican Party. Their political opponents called them the Democratic Party as a way to demonize them as some wild group in favor of mob rule (democracy).”

        Those accusations had more than a little truth to them. From the beginning, Jacksonian Democracy did rely heavily an appeal to the worst instincts of lower class white males (sound familiar??) But before politicians could do this, first all those poor white city dwellers farm laborers had to get the right to vote. What? That’s right, property restrictions on voting rights were still the norm in 1800, but by the time of the formation of the Democratic Party in 1824, these restrictions were quickly being abolished. That paved the way for Jackson to be elected president in 1828 by appealing to “The Common Man”.

        Of course Jackson’s appeal to the common man was really an appeal to the common white man. And the centerpiece of that appeal was the promise of Free Land. And that was no empty promise, either, for there was plenty of Free Land to be had, or at least there was as soon as the Indian Removal Act (NO SHIT, that is the official name of the law!) was enacted in 1830.

        • Robert Duvall is one of my favorite actors and I was surprised to learn he was a Republican. When a reporter asked him about it he said some of the worst Civil Rights abuses in the South happened under Democrats. Though I am liberal, I often think of his reasons for being Republican to remind myself that neither party has always been what they are today. Parties evolve, and may evolve yet.

      • Which is applicable for early 19th century politics, not so much for modern politics.

  7. Our country is not a collection of independent city-states and the situation in Wisconsin is not entirely a Wisconsin issue. What is decided in Wisconsin will be used as precedent in other states – we all have an interest in how this issue is ultimately resolved.

    As someone who grew up in the South toward the end of the Civil Rights era, I’m leery of any invocation of “states’ rights”. But this issue does not rise to the level of basic civil rights and ultimately the people of Wisconsin have the right to decide it for themselves. I agree that people coming in from other states to protest is unseemly.

    Breaking a quorum – like filibustering – is an extreme parliamentary maneuver, but it is a legitimate means to insure that the interests of political minorities are not overrun by the majority. The majority in Wisconsin was unwilling to compromise, leaving the minority with no option other than capitulation. At some point, the harm done by stopping legislative work becomes greater than the harm of the legislation in question and accepting the inevitable and moving on is the only option. I don’t know when that point will be in this situation.

    The budget crises are real – we have a huge one here in Texas. There are no solutions that don’t involve real people suffering real pain. My primary concern is that any solution be effective and equitable – don’t cut services to the poor and lay off thousands of necessary public employees to pay for tax cuts that primarily benefit the rich.

    Finally, I’d take your position a lot more seriously if you didn’t use “Democrat” for an adjective where “Democratic” is the proper word. That’s an unnecessary pejorative that detracts from an argument that is legitimate, even if I don’t agree with it.

    • As for not rising to the level of Civil Rights, I think it’s actually pretty well covered under “the rights of the people peaceably to assemble.” And, as Ali has pointed out, the United Nations has recognized the right to collective bargaining as a basic human right.

      The budget crises are indeed real–and being magnified by the Right’s insistence on cutting deficits at a time of financial crisis, without concern for the two largest causes of those deficits: tax cuts, particularly for the wealthiest Americans, and two expensive wars.

      However, it is also true that the budget deficits are merely a pretext for Wisconsin’s governor’s attempts to break the unions in his state; the public employee unions in question have already agreed to the financial cuts he is calling for, and are ONLY refusing to surrender their collective bargaining rights.

  8. I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
    [Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King]

      • You’re welcome. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” really is one of those historical documents that does not disappoint no matter how much extravagant praise is heaped on it. It’s the real thing.

        • *laughing*
          A group of my last year’s students were in my classroom at lunch today, expressing their surprise at now being taught MLK “in English class”–ie, as literature.

          I think they may have been equally surprised by my passion for why this should be, and my quoting excerpts at them, and talking about the context in terms of his life and work. At least here in Massachusetts, we do a very energetic job talking about King’s legacy at the elementary level each year for Martin Luther King Day. But we make him sound so safe, so sure of himself, that we really do his life and his work a terrible injustice. It deserves serious study, and I’m saddened that it typically gets so little of it.

          And, pacifist or no, I feel strongly that it deserves the respect of its context in reality; I never teach King without also teaching from the works of Malcolm X. There is just no way to appreciate what made either man so amazing without looking into their context in history.

          And how can a student know whether he admires one man or the other more, if he is only taught the words of the one? We bowdlerize King, and it’s a shame.

  9. The GOP experienced that in our Federal government and had to stand by as laws were passed that they vehemently opposed. The GOP didn’t leave the country, though. They complained, they grandstanded, but they participated in governance. On Bills they opposed, they voted against the Bill and then they used that vote as part of their platform in the next election.

    They did far more than that, Cara. Politics is the hobby, lifeblood, and national sport here in the District, and the GOP did way more than simply grandstand. Their actions were not participatory but deliberately calculated to obstruct topics they didn’t like from ever being voted on. Period. Anonymous holds, a threat to fillabuster *every* bill that might come up, deliberately (and admittedly) wasting time in committees so ideas for laws could never come to a vote: the only difference between the GOP last term and the Wisconsin Dems that fled is that the GOP members decided to keep eating on the Hill.

    • The GOP did not have the ability to filibuster during the first part of the Obama administration unless Democrats joined them. They had 60 seats in the Senate. That stayed true until Scott Brown won his Senate seat in Massachusetts. After that, Democrats needed a Republican to cross the aisle and vote with them, which happened several times in the following year.

      When a filibuster was threatened or a Bill was blocked, it was because Democrats were willing to side with Republicans.

      • It would be nice if Democrats grew some spines.

        Having heard Obama termed an extreme liberal and even a Socialist by the Right for some time now, let me just say how fervently I wish that were true.

        Because Bernie Sanders is my idea of what a politician with a conscience would look like.

        • I agree that Obama is not a raging far left Liberal. I’m just….amazed…that he again signed an extension of the Patriot Act. This was one area, when Obama won the election, that I told myself “At least he will get rid of the friggin Patriot Act.”

  10. Now onto the meat of the discussion, now that I’ve gotten the “Democrat vs. Democratic” thing out of my system.

    First, while the move by the Democratic senators from Wisconsin may be making an extreme move (any sane leftie will recognize that), it is a move that is enshrined in the Wisconsin Constitution. The reason it is in there is to prevent the tyranny of the majority, regardless of who that majority is. The Wisconsin 14 have pointed to one issue alone — collective bargaining rights — as what keeps them away. They have made more than clear that they will all vote against the budget because they do not agree with it, but it is THIS issue that made them leave. Not the cuts, which the unions have actually already agreed to.

    Second, this move at least requires some effort. The United States Senate uses the filibuster, and that’s just a Senate rule, it isn’t even in the Constitution like Wisconsin’s is. Unlike the guys in Wisconsin, the senators in Washington don’t need to skip town, federal marshals don’t hunt them like dogs. They just go to fundraisers and cocktail parties. And the record-breaking usage of the filibuster was done by Republicans in the past two Congresses — over 250 to be precise. That’s like the Wisconsin 14 skipping town once a week for five years. These guys in Wisconsin aren’t getting their paychecks, they aren’t seeing their families. One may end up giving birth in Illinois if this goes on a while.

    In connection with that, your statement that the GOP “voted against bills” is inaccurate. It IS accurate in the House, it is NOT accurate in the Senate, where quite often the vote was on whether to end debate on a piece of legislation, which requires a 2/3 majority. The GOP abused the filibuster, period, and I think it should be abolished. And if you think the Wisconsin 14 are wrong, you should encourage the voters of Wisconsin to amend their constitution to strip the 3/5 quorum requirements out. But at least theirs is in their constitution and not just some gentleman’s agreement.

    I won’t go into depth as to how this is a manufactured crisis, but Walker did enter with a balanced budget, and then he gave away a bunch of money to rich people in the form of tax cuts, and now he has to RE-balance the budget.

    I pay attention to what is happening in Wisconsin, and donate money, because what happens there IS my business. If they succeed in busting unions there, it will be Maine next. I’m fighting for the rights of Maine workers by helping Wisconsin stop this in its tracks.

    • I think a quorum should be needed to vote on important issues. However, that rule was not put into place so that the minority could stop the government from functioning by skipping the state, but to ensure that members of Congress wouldn’t call secret votes int he middle of the night, passing legislation with only 20 votes.

      As for filibusters – I’m not a fan. I think unlimited debate should be allowed, though. But most things should go to a vote.

      Question for all who think it is such a great idea for Congresspersons to skip the state to block legislation from being voted on – what if the GOP takes this up as a tactic to block legislation you support? Would you support that, too?

      • If it’s this rare? Once every few sessions? Yes. Last time they did this in WI was a long time ago. Even Abe Lincoln tried to skip town and avoid a vote. It made him famous.

        If they’re skipping town every week? No. Then the GOP line is accurate, you’re paid to govern, so govern.

        As for filibusters, I support them, provided that they must STAY THERE AND TALK! This “painless filibuster” stuff we have now is nonsense. If they brought it back to what Thurmond had to do, that’d be different. If they had to stay on the floor and go hoarse and read the phonebook and piss in a diaper, I wouldn’t mind a bit. Because eventually, you get a vote that way, but not until the minority has been adequately represented — and not until the entire country has had a chance to call their Senator and make themselves heard if they wish.

        Actually, there is one use for the REAL filibuster that I wouldn’t have moaned about, and that was the Affordable Care Act. Why? Because it was huge landmark legislation. Not confirmation of a judge on some court. Of course they should have been up there for days, holding the floor, speaking their minds. It was important enough to do so. And you hope that by making that stand, that you can sway public opinion to your side to change minds and get the legislation killed. And I support the ACA, and I still feel that way.

        THAT is what they are doing in Wisconsin. If Walker says he won’t kill collective bargaining, the Dems come home. Meanwhile, Republican senators are beginning to bend under the pressure from their constituents, who favor keeping collective bargaining by 61%-34%-5% or something like that. The Dems are buying time to let people speak their minds, hoping that the Republicans will do what the people want, and not what the Koch Brothers want.

        We wouldn’t be having this discussion about WI at all if there wasn’t something there about busting the unions. The Dems are prepared to vote on a budget they despise, but will not vote to bust a union. That is sacrosanct. That is like Republicans walking out over an 80% tax on small business income, similarly extreme in their eyes. If they walked out over that, I would call my Democratic legislator and tell them to take that junk off the table.

        • Ed, I’m with you on ending the ‘painless filibuster.’ If they want to do the unlimited debate thing, fine, I can go along with that as a valid tactic.

  11. Cara, your article is well written and I find myself agreeing with it. That issue is not in my state, and I have not the right to say how they should live.

    For those complaining about the “Massive Tax Cuts for the Wealthy” I would encourage you too look up a concept called “Wealth Flight.” Also, those who speak of the Unions as making American manufacture as great as it is, I would recommend you look up the state of American Manufacturing and just when it started to decline (hint, there’s a correlation between Union power and the end of the Great Industries in America, I will let you judge if there is a causation.)

    I will join those calling the Democrat/Democratic officials as cowards for fleeing their state. Some may call them heroes for preventing a vote, but regardless of if the current Governor’s plan is good or bad, they have abandoned their duty in my eyes. The longer it takes to act, the worse it is going to be. It is said Walker will lay off people if they do not return. Should that happen, I would count those that fled as responsible as much as I will Walker, the same as I would any group elected for the defense of a people that fled in the face of an army that promised to take no terms of surrender. You do your duty, no matter what the cost, or you’re a coward. That is my way, drawn from my Northern Heritage.

    • You’re certainly welcome to feel they are cowards, but did you feel the same way about the GOP halting Obama’s agenda in this past Congress through a similar use of the filibuster?

      • Yes, and no, but the situation is actually much different. The filibuster is a legitimate political tactic, one used by both parties (did you feel it bad when your party used it against republicans?) The main difference though, is that the republican halted the agenda by standing as a combined force on the field they were elected to to “battle” on for their people. Those represented by the republicans wanted that agenda stopped, and so they stood and “fought.” The elected democrats who fled their state, however, ran away. had they stood in the state government and found a way to stop Walker, or even just stand there and make their voices heard, I would say they were honorable. They ran.

        So in the end, the national republicans stayed and stopped an agenda, and the state democrats ran away and have left their people in a position where they could lose their jobs for several reasons from budget collapse to the gods alone know, not to mention the larger populace which is now unrepresented by their elected officials. As much as you might not like what the republicans did, they honorably stood with the voice of their people and didn’t run. These state democrats, however, have not.

        • First, yes, when the GOP was talking about the nuclear option, I kept calling my Senator’s office and urged her to cut no deals and pull the trigger, because I wanted the filibuster gone. Simple logic: they got their way, then we’d get our turn. I think the painless filibuster is a joke. As I said in a previous comment, if they want to do it old-school, I have no problem with that.

          You choose to interpret the actions of the Wisconsin 14 differently than I do, and that’s your choice. As a deep minority, they have no power in the chamber. They stood BY running. Sometimes the best way to win is to not join battle. They left, and now instead of a 140 page bill passing in the dark of night with no debate, the entire state is having an opportunity to see every nook and cranny of the bill — stuff they didn’t even know was in there.

          Like, for instance, the granting of executive authority to DHS staff over Medicaid, stripping that power from the Legislature. Or the ability to sell energy equipment of any sort without bids. And so on. And guess what? People in Wisconsin are mad about it! But they’re *really* mad about collective bargaining.

          The GOP is no longer standing “honorably with the voice of their people”. The people have turned against them, and they are still going down the same path, constituents be damned. Except three or four, who have had enough time to get an earful from their constituents, and happen to be in some of those Democratic districts that went Republican this time, but if they don’t shape up… buh-bye.

          The Wisconsin 14 are standing with their people by standing elsewhere. They fail their constituents, who support their decision, if they return. If as Cara said, this were entirely the national labor movement pushing this and the locals felt differently, then I’d feel differently too. But the “outsiders” are simply magnifying the voices already being heard locally. And by having this ONE fight, we stop the chain reaction of state after state doing the same. Florida, Indiana, and Ohio have all put the brakes on similar legislation. If nothing else, we’re saving time and money by only doing this once!

          Otherwise, the Tea Party would not be out-organized, regardless of time of day, at least 35:1. They have people too — but they aren’t there. Because they’re in the minority now. The GOP had its shot — and it overreached.

          Now if the people are truly against the Wisconsin 14, they can amend the constitution to say that 2/5 constitute a quorum, thus requiring that a majority party have some of its own members skip town WITH the minority. But I’ve seen no mention of this.

          • Heh. The Tea Party isn’t out marching, very much, but I can tell you they aren’t doing nothing and they are becoming VERY organized.

        • While I have sympathy for Cara’s viewpoint here, calling the Democratic senators cowards would be going too far. They are simply using asymetric warfare techniques taken into the political arena at great personal cost to themselves to stand for a principle they believe in. Whether they are right to do so is a separate issue and one I do not choose to engage with, only to stand with Cara in choosing not to demonize people who believe they are doing the right thing.

    • Actually your claim about the US sinking as a great manufacturing power and the rise of unions is clearly false. American industry didn’t start leaving the country until the signing of free trade agreements that let them set up shop in countries where sweatshop labor is the norm and environmental protections are a joke. The average income of Americans, if anything, started to deflate and the gap between rich and poor greatly widen starting with the Reagan Administration and their undermining of organized labor.

    • Your pstoing lays bare the truth

  12. [...] and human rights, I find myself taking issue with a more recent Pagan+Politics post, entitled “Wisconsin is none of my business…” that continues its first line with “…and probably none of yours.” Cara, the [...]

  13. I’ve already written two entries on this blog explaining my position as to why I think this is very much my business. I’m not going to rehash at too much length except to say this:

    We are not a collection of Greek city-states bound together at best by common language and culture. We are the UNITED States of America, unity which has been forged and tested through fire and blood more than once. What happens in one part of the country will have impact elsewhere be it political, economic, social, or cultural.

    Your entry completely ignores this basic connection on one hand while on the other paying no heed to similar actions by the governors of Ohio and Indiana along with hints and threats in Iowa, Maine, and Tennessee to name a few. If this was solely a Wisconsin issue you’d have a stronger point but so far Republican governors are taking actions to push their own versions of the same law in other states. Even out here in navy blue California a Republican Assemblyman introduced a similar bill. To claim this is solely a Wisconsin phenomenon would only be true if Wisconsin was the only state busting unions.

  14. It’s funny, but as I delve deeper into Hellenic spirituality, I feel Libertarianism is exactly the opposite of Greek thought. The intellectual and spiritual leaders of the time, I feel, would have decried the ability of the people to make such a mess of things as we have done today. Freedom is a terrible, terrible thing in this country, and for the good of the whole, needs to be seriously curtailed.

    That being said, I do not agree with the methodology of Governor Scott. It was very under-hander, sneaky, and by all accounts rude. When the opposition is ready to compromise for the good of the State, you compromise. While I disagree the Tea Party and its affiliate legislators in the GOP were given a “mandate” to run amok with extreme budget cuts, they were certainly elected to come up with a solution. I’m given to agree that serious cuts need to be made, and even bigger reforms.

    I grew up in a Union family. I know of the good unions do. They ensure a good wage, and benefits you wouldn’t find in most other fields in the same income range. However, as a native of Detroit, I’ve seen the terrible damage unions can do as well. Terrible teachers, entrenched by the unions, corrupted and nearly destroyed the Detroit Public School district until it was rescued (partially) by Robert Bobb. The United Auto Workers, once necessary to safe factory workers from long, dangerous shifts building cars, grabbed the Big Three by the short hairs, driving costs sky-high (and passing them on to you) and driving competitiveness into the bottom of Lake St. Claire. I’ve seen unions both build cities up and bring them to their knees. Obviously, Governor Scott was correct in seeking much-needed reforms.

    But Scott went too far. The public unions conceded to paying more for their benefits, as they should have. Tying pay raises to the rate of inflation was smart; that’s how we normally do things at the Federal level. But having to renegotiate contracts every year? That’s just nonsense, both from a fiscal perspective as well as a procedural standpoint. Do we really need to convene local governments that often, eating up man hours and no doubt countless material resources? What happens when the costs go up for the city councils? Will they raise taxes? What about disallowing unions to collect dues from the wages of its members? We at the federal level do that every day; a very small part of my check goes to the Air Force Sergeant’s Association, which lobbies Congress for cost of living adjustments and brings attention to quality of life issues for Airmen. much the way unions lobby State and Federal legislators. It’s pennies on the dollar. Back to Gov. Scott though. He forgot that, as an executive, he is responsible to the entirety of Wisconsin, not just the small constituencies of the legislators. While the senators were free to forgo negotiating, the governor is not.

    All in all, be at the state level or the federal, I think the government, and the people, need to begin addressing not only our fiscal deficits, but out leadership deficits as well.