The 18-1 surprise vote by the Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate this evening to end collective bargaining by public employees completed the process of moral bankruptcy proving beyond any doubt that it is not financial trouble that the state is in but a condition of moral bankruptcy.
Citizens of the state are shocked, outraged, and seething tonight as we learned the news of an almost secret vote that violated Wisconsin’s strong Open Meetings Law and all sense of correct procedure in legislating in the state. Even common citizens must be informed of pending votes on questions before the legislature. They were not so informed. There is even some question that the new bill was even properly introduced in the Senate as it is a new piece of legislation.
The new law was taken out of the Budget Repair Bill and made into a legislative initiative that was not fiscal so as not to require the quorum the Wisconsin 14 had denied the Governor and his lap dogs in the legislature. There is no doubt that the move was brilliant. Scott Walker has won a stunning battlefield victory in his war to destroy his political opponents, unions and collective bargaining, and to win forever the undying love of conservatives across the entire United States. Walker at once has catapulted himself right into the 2012 Presidential race.
The vote was a great tactical victory, brilliantly executed via the kind of military deception that will be studied in the political versions of war colleges of professional political operatives as a stroke of genius for the ages.
But anyone who has studied military history will tell you it is not only possible for a nation’s military to win tactically but lose badly strategically, it is one of the most common truisms of the military art.
For Scott Walker and his Wisconsin Republican rubber stamp legislature of spineless creatures too shameful for any decent citizen to look upon, this was a game-changing strategic defeat. For the protestors who have stood in the cold or slept in the state capitol night after night have had their worst fears about the Governor and the entire Republican Party confirmed: they are morally bankrupt and they now have driven the state into a condition of moral bankruptcy.
The vote may be legal and upheld in court but the behavior of Walker and any legislator who gives him aid and comfort is indecent and immoral. You get that feeling in your gut immediately that a whole series of deep wrongs have been committed with what happened this evening as the greatest moral outrage.
For the past three weeks, a majority of citizens of the state have been telling the Governor and the Republicans that they approve of public employees making sacrifices in their pension and health benefits but that they reject utterly Walker’s push to take civil rights in the workplace away from Wisconsin public servants, and that they are sickened by his strong-armed, disingenuous, and unethical conduct since the very first day he took office. Now those citizens have seen and felt their trust, a trust they placed in the Governor when they elected him last November, irrevocably and fundamentally betrayed.
Conservatives have spent over two years condemning the Obama Administration for a whole litany of illegalities and sins that have proven outright falsehoods. To the contrary, Walker’s illegalities and falsehoods are all too real and rooted in fact.
Walker and the Republican majority have driven the State of Wisconsin into a condition of moral bankruptcy with their utter contempt for the democratic process. What the Wisconsin 14 did would be unethical if it were done for mere political gain. But it was not. It was done to prevent a greater wrong or injury to the public good.
Walker’s conduct as Governor to the contrary, has inflicted a greater harm to that public or civic good. How can anyone trust this Governor for anything? His Republican base (86% of those who call themselves Republicans in the state) can set that aside and applaud his boldness, ruthlessness, and celebrate his hatred and contempt for so many good people who work and make this state run. They can enjoy the fact that they have elected a Badger State Attila the Hun.
Real Wisconsin citizens of moral backbone, and a knowledge of the state’s hard-won and well deserved progressive tradition, which incidentally was first brought to the scene by a Republican, Fighting Bob La Follette, will never support such a poor excuse for the kind of moral statesman the people in our state have come to expect and perhaps take for granted.
Somehow, some way, even Scott Walker’s wife and children must begin to sense that daddy is not a good man. That’s going to hurt. You feel sad for them and any person of faith must pray for them all. But don’t expect Walker’s opponents to simply pray for them. They are now compelled to act on their sense of betrayal and uphold what is elementally a greater moral right.
Walker had awakened a sleeping giant when he provoked this political fight in the first place. Now that giant is fully awake and knows it has been tricked. People simply do not wish to be tricked by those they have entrusted with power over them. Walker is going to learn that to his detriment in the months ahead.
He has created for himself several new battlefields. One new one will be a long legal fight in the courts and in continued battles in the legislature that will keep the focus on Walker and his mismanagement of his state and running it into the ground. That legal fight to the death will provide opponents with a whole new platform where these legal, ethical and deeply moral issues will get an even more thorough airing.
First he got the capitol building as a battlefield, then the Wisconsin 14, and the moral repugnance of much of the nation and the world. But he prevailed tonight against it all. It is truly going to be a Pyrrhic victory. For now he will have energized the decent citizens of Wisconsin who have captured the hearts of the world and inspired millions. It is going to be impossible to hold them back.
Instead of shock and outrage and discouragement Walker’s opponents are savoring the opportunity he has given them. This is becoming a fight for the future of the United States and whether our democracy will survive or whether it will be turned over to a corporate elite that is completely deaf to the will of the populace and to the voters who retain the final verdict.
This night will not ever be forgotten. Walker is not just a polarizing governor who has divided Wisconsin in traditional partisan fashion. He is acting with his henchmen in the legislature to assail democratic government and the consent of the governed; the public trust and the civic good. The state is deeply wounded and badly divided at a time when unity of spirit and purpose and respect for all is an absolute necessity.
Walker has fully revealed to the world not only his blind and ruthless uncaring ambition for raw political power but his weakness and insecurities that present to us a mean-spirited spoiled child who has been handed responsibilities out of all proportion to his ability to meet them ehtically and legally. The Governor’s chair is not something you hand to such a moral problem child. Recall is a certainty tonight when it was a potential possibility before. Strategically this affront to open, decent, and honest government will repay the Republican Party with a crushing defeat at the polls in a host of recall elections. If not, we will have lost something precious in this state: our self-respect.
We now have the privilege of making history yet again and standing for right and human justice against a more fully revealed evil and propelling the human spirit to new heights. Walker opponents: ignore your tactical defeat as brilliant as it was for the other side, and revel in your strategic victory which is coming in due time.
Forward! On Wisconsin!