Madness in Madison – Release the Hounds!

By YeOldeScribe ~ March 3rd, 2011 @ 11:30 pm

If any Wisconsin Republican Senators are reading this, you guys really missed the point of our post from last night.

When we said your actions in bringing back the 14 missing Democrats, who are effectively stalling a vote on the Budget Repair Bill by fleeing the state, were petty, we didn’t mean that you should go from petty to outrageous, which is exactly what you did.

Here’s a list of some of the announcements made today in Madison:

  • Governor Walker announces that if the missing Dems don’t return, he’ll lay off 1,500 workers. Starting tomorrow. (The notices will be sent out then, layoffs will take place starting April 1st – but we promise it’s not a joke.)
  • The Senate passed a resolution that said the missing Democrats would be found “In contempt of the Senate” if they didn’t return by today (which they didn’t). The resolution also authorizes law enforcement to detain and return the missing senators to Wisconsin.
  • A Dane County Judge ruled today that allowed the Department of Administration the right to forcibly remove any protesters that don’t leave after the capitol officially closes at 6 p.m. as it usually does on weekdays.

And here’s why each of these developments should scare you:

  • Walker’s seriously not kidding. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he will throw innocent teachers and government workers under the bus of political gamesmanship. He has no qualms, no hesitation of telling thousands that they no longer have a job because he doesn’t know the definition of the word ‘compromise’. Since the Democrats actually care about the people of Wisconsin, our guess is that they’ll swerve first in this proverbial game of chicken.
  • Speaking of compromise, had an interesting article today in which Walker accuses the Democrats of “standing in the way of compromise.” There’s an interesting thought. Walker, who has refused compromise on any issue in his Budget Repair Bill, is accusing Democrats as being unwilling to compromise when a) They tried to meet with Gov. Walker when they were still in town, b) They said they would come back if there was an honest attempt by Walker to come to the negotiation table, c) They continue to meet with Republican leaders in the Senate, and d) They’ve compromised on every issue besides one: collective bargaining. But yeah, it’s the Dems that refuse to compromise. Right.
  • The Senate resolution seems a bit much in terms of escalation. We’ve gone from fining the missing Senators $100/a day to arresting them? Seems like a big jump to take in jut a day’s time. But the bigger issue with the resolution is…
  • That the resolution passed is unconstitutional. The Wisconsin Constitution clearly states that the arrest of lawmakers is prohibited while the government is in session (which it is even without quorum, in case you were wondering), except in cases involving treason, felonies and breaches of the peace. But why should a little thing like the State Constitution stop the Republicans from getting what they want? (In an interesting development, if one of the missing Senators is “captured”, forced to return and vote – and the Sate Supreme Court rules the resolution to be unconstitutional – then any action taken by the Senate with the captive Democrat would be unconstitutional as well. Assembly Democrats are also investigating if the vote for the passage of the Budget Repair Bill in their chamber was constitutional as well.)
  • Finally, as we’ve previously stated, we don’t have a problem with the capitol being closed so it can stay clean and safe for protesters – but we do have a problem with how this was handled. First, why was the capitol police not involved in the decision? They’re the ones who have been watching over the protesters and ensuring their safety for the last two weeks. Now all of the sudden the  Department of Administration gets to step in and force protesters out? In case you were wondering, the secretary of the DOA is appointed by the governor. (And yes, we’re well aware that the Capitol Police is a branch of the DOA. We just feel the authority should have been given straight to them and not some government-appointed yes-man.) Also, if this decision was influenced in any way, shape or form by the fact that hollowpoint ammunition was found around capitol grounds, that’s a premature rationalization. First, the ammunition could have been left by anyone, and second, it wasn’t found in the capitol, which is where most of the protesters are. Also, the fact that 41 rounds were found just screams “planted evidence” to us. We definitely want to ensure the safety of all the workers and protesters at the capitol, but we think it’s absurd to conclude that protesters are arming themselves and therefore need to be removed from the premises – because there’s no evidence to support that claim.

So does any of this information mean we think the Democrats should stay on the run? No. We still believe the Dems should return. While we agree with Mr. Nathan Wright (our first commenter!) that this proves the Republicans just don’t get it and are unwilling to compromise and listen to reason, we also believe that this doesn’t change the fact that their best play is to return. Walker’s threat to layoff workers just shows he doesn’t care about Wisconsin families. If the Democrats do, they should return before Walker does something even more drastic and bone-headed. Also, this doesn’t change the fact that the Democrats only stand to lose by staying on the run – losing more money, Wisconsin jobs, and respect for their cause, which is the most important part. Especially now that ultimatums are being handed down, Walker looks more like a bully than a governor. If Democrats keep running away, they’re not “standing up” to the bully, they’re avoiding him – and every nerd who’s passed the fifth grade knows you can only outrun a bully so long before you get your knuckle sandwich. It actually makes the Democrats and their cause look better if they play the victim here rather than play the spoiled brat. (Again, we don’t think that’s what the Dems are if they choose to stay hidden. But the public will, and that’s what counts). Democrats still have so much more to lose by not returning than they do to gain. They should return tomorrow.

Walker and the Republicans have truly released the hounds in an effort to get what they want, and these dogs have fangs for teeth. However, just because the Republicans are being unreasonable and childish doesn’t mean the Democrats should do the same and stoop to their level – in fact, it means the opposite.

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