In Madison, Wisconsin a fight to maintain democracy and representative government in the United States has erupted. For almost a week now, tens of thousands of American citizens from the state of Wisconsin are literally shouting for their human rights to be respected. And we will be heard!
The fight erupted when Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced a budget repair bill that would not only punish Wisconsin public employees with benefit cuts in pension and health, but would take away their rights to collective bargaining.
As the fight continued, the air provided by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution began to operate and it was learned that the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a Wisconsin State Government Agency has reported a tiny surplus of $56 million in the state budget as Governor Walker took office. The $137 million state deficit was related to a cut in state tax revenues projected by Walker’s own tax cuts to business literally the week he took over the Governor’s chair. He now says Wisconsin faces a $3.6 billion budget shortfall for the period 2011-2013. But we learn also, that that itself is based upon the State of Wisconsin spending 6.2% more each year in each of those two years. Democrats in the state legislature have been blunt about intending that the state budget be much tighter than that. But the Governor and his party told the people of Wisconsin a series of outright lies to get them behind the hard hits working people in the state will be taking should they be public servants who serve us all.
And to accomplish this, the very idea of Unions is under attack yet again. Unions in the state who serve public servants like AFCSME and WEAC are called thugs, out to defraud the citizens of their money. The real fraud is being perpetrated by an ultra conservative Republican Governor and a Republican dominated legislature who have manufactured the Wisconsin state budget crisis themselves and who are using the crisis to break public employee Unions in the state.
But all this would be preaching to the choir of Struggles For Justice readers with an ounce of civic education in their skulls and the love of freedom and liberty and democracy in their hearts. All Wisconsin citizens must wake up and rise up and see the real danger posed by what is going on in our state’s capitol, and soon other state capitols as well. What the people of Cairo and Egypt learned this month must be learned again by all American citizens now!
The working people in Madison who by thousands upon thousands are gathering to protest are exercising their rights to peaceably assemble and seek the redress of grievances from a government gone mad. In less than a week, their state government has tried to introduce a law and to pass that law and have it signed into law by an overeager spoiled child of a Governor that would make historic changes in state law present for over half a century and proven to be useful to the welfare of the people of the state.
Adjusting numbers on a budget bill to cover a short-term shortfall in state funds would justify passing a law in days. But any law that so hurts Wisconsin working people and families and the general welfare of the state for years to come demands care, deliberation, discussion, and reflection on the part of all citizens and especially the elected representatives of the people of Wisconsin.
The 14 Democratic State Senators who left the legislature and the State on Thursday morning did the right thing. They could not stop a law from coming into place before a significant number of citizens affected by this change could be heard. They themselves could not, nor their Republican colleagues properly deliberate on so great a change. So they did the only thing they could. They left. Without a quorum, the Senate could not act precipitously on this bill. That leave-taking was an act of responsibility and courage. For it gives Wisconsin citizens time to practice democracy and to seek redress for a great series of injustices that are being undertaken in their state capitol that will harm them and in their name. Evidently, a filibuster a la Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is not permitted by Wisconsin State Senate rules. The departure of the 14 Democrats who support the workers was the next best thing.
The capitol building in Madison has been filled to capacity and beyond. Citizens are meeting, talking, trying to testify before their elected representatives, pleading with them not to make this law. That building in all its fine history has never been put to a better use than this past week. Labor in the State of Wisconsin may be entering its death throes but it too may also be its finest hour to date. The struggle will not end regardless of what a Republican legislature and Republican Governor may do in the coming days. Though elected by a majority of state voters last November, many who actually did vote for them did not know that an end to collective bargaining was contained in their vote for legislative Republicans and Governor Walker.
Wisconsin residents were voting for budget austerity and the immediate creation of more good jobs and an increase in economic activity for all our citizens and for real, in-state small business in Wisconsin. They were not voting to bust Unions even if they did not particularly like them.
The nation, the entire United States of America and all of its citizens awaken! Your very democratic rights are on the line in Madison this week. For if a majority however democratically elected can deny the right of the minority to even be heard before real harm is done to them then our democracy is in danger.
The Tea Party has done one thing right: they have stood up for this great principle discussed here in this editorial comment. Where are they now? When other state citizens who are expressing the very same concerns and who are now in the same plight need their support? What your politics are should not determine your level of rights under our Constitution. All citizens deserve equal treatment under our law no matter what they believe and argue for.
Where are the liberal Democrats? Where is President Obama? They must speak out. They must act. They must go to Madison. They are needed. This effort to break Unions nationwide and to further destroy the American middle class must be stopped.
It has been said that the public school teachers of the State of Wisconsin are misbehaving and are a poor example to their students. Our public school teachers have never been a finer example to their students! Those students are getting a lesson in democracy that no textbook can possibly teach! If democracy only matters when it is discussed in a classroom but never in the streets and in the lawmaking chambers of our government than something is very wrong with America.
Go to Madison! Saturday? Sunday? Any day of the week. But go. And make your voice heard. Circulate this post and the blog url of https://strugglesforjustice.com/ to anyone you can.
Struggles For Justice fully supports public employees in Wisconsin and their right to collective bargaining without any equivocation whatsoever. We also repeat our earlier call for a full investigation of just how and why the “so-called” budget crisis took place and the part of Governor Walker and the Republican legislature and “outside” groups in fomenting this crisis. Struggles For Justice also repeats its unwavering demand for the immediate recall of Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin for malfeasance in office. Who is with us! In Full Solidarity and For the One Big Union! Hurrahs for AFCSME, the AFL-CIO, WEAC and all workers in Wisconsin who believe that collective bargaining rights and our very democratic rights as citizens are inextricably linked. Who is with us!