Madness in Madison – Refuting “Elections Have Consequences”

By YeOldeScribe ~ March 13th, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

Over the past few months, it seems the mantra of the Republican Party has become “Elections Have Consequences”. Repubs across the nation (but especially in Wisconsin) have been using the slogan to justify governmental atrocities across the country, such as a new Michigan law which allows the governor to dissolve local governments and replace them with “emergency financial managers”, who aren’t responsible to anyone except the state legislature. Supporters of the bill are calling it “Financial Martial Law”. PoliticalProgressives.com will do a full post on this story later this week, but we just wanted to give you a taste of what Republicans are trying to justify with their blanket claim of “Elections Have Consequences”.

The statement seems legitimate enough. After all, when we elect our officials, we do so for a reason, right? Two (or more) individuals present their plans for what they’d do were they to win the election, then the populous looks at those plans and decides which one better represents their views and ideals and chooses their leader accordingly. The newly-elected leader then enacts the plans he promised to do, and deals with situations using the values and ideals s/he established in his/her campaign.

Yeah, right. And there really is a pot of gold and dancing leprechauns at the end of a rainbow, too.

At PoliticalProgressives.com, we’ll agree that elections do – and should – have consequences. But we’ll argue just as hard that current Republican leaders are bastardizing this claim. We’ll take a look at two reasons why Walker and the Republicans can’t use this claim to further their cause.

First, as we already pointed out, in an ideal world, elections should have consequences. But that’s predicated on the idea that officials campaign, then do what they said they would, and adjudicate unforeseen situations using the ideas and values they campaigned on. If that doesn’t happen, then the argument doesn’t make sense anymore. Such is the case with the Budget Repair Bill and Gov. Walker. As we already pointed out in a previous post, Walker never campaigned on cutting collective bargaining. Never once in a debate, speech, or release from his campaign does he mention that this was part of his idea to save Wisconsin. However, Walker did campaign on making public workers contribute more to their pension and benefits. In several debates and releases, he made it very clear that such actions would be part of his economic reforms. Given this, many Republicans argue that it was a reasonable extrapolation that collective bargaining would be cut. However, that’s not true. First of all, PolitiFact points out that Walker’s campaign was based on specific numbers and promises, and if he thought that this move would have been popular or helped his chances to be elected, he would have told people about it before they cast their ballots. The fact that he waited until after his victory was assured is trickery and deceitful.

Second, as we already pointed out, the majority of people both in Wisconsin and in the nation want to keep collective bargaining, and believed that Walker should have negotiated with Democrats instead of recklessly smashing his proposal through. Republicans will counter that many of these people didn’t vote in the election and are just whining after the fact. This is probably partly true – but there’s no evidence to prove it, and even if there was, it doesn’t make what Walker’s doing right. He was elected to do what is in the best interest for the entire state and to do what the entire state wants him to do. Just because a Republican majority elected him doesn’t mean he can ignore Democrats and Independents and those who didn’t get him into office. The governorship is not supposed to be a dictatorship – Walker is still accountable to the people, and in case he hasn’t been paying attention to what’s going on outside the capitol the last few days, the people have clearly spoken.

If anyone has a counterpoint (or knows someone who has a counterpoint) to the arguments we’ve presented, we’d love to hear from you/them. PoliticalProgressives.com believes in a marketplace of ideas and open discourse on subjects such as these (and we’re always willing to put our argumentative talents to the test!). However, we believe this argument, while usually very accurate, to be false in the case of the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill to be false for the reasons listed above.

And if you disagree, that’s fine. But remember, recall elections have consequences too.

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3 Responses to Madness in Madison – Refuting “Elections Have Consequences”

  1. Krisi

    Wonderful post! Now I am not a republican but I must ask your opinion on this statement made to me by my cousin. She says that the republicans are making drastic cuts to the budget and giving big corporations more money so that these corporations can create jobs for the up coming gas crisis that we will be facing this summer. She says that they are trying to get everything balanced because other countries are dropping the dollar and our currency is not worth what it used to be. Now that wasn’t word for word but that was pretty much it in a nut shell. How do you feel about this?

  2. YeOldeScribe

    Krisi,

    Look for a post in the next week covering our feelings on this issue! Thanks for the wonderful comment and for following the blog, we really appreciate it!

    -PoliticalProgressives

  3. Salina Lish

    What are your thoughts about the recent earthquake?

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