Friday, February 18, 2011

Wisconsin and the Fate of American Democracy

Had Democratic legislators not fled the state yesterday to deny a quorum in the House, a GOP sponsored bill would have stripped Wisconsin’s public unions of their collective bargaining rights as well as have asked them to pay a greater amount for their pension and health care costs.  Besides losing their bargaining rights, state employees also would be required to hold annual elections in order to keep their organizations intact and could no longer have their union dues deducted from state paychecks. Talk about government meddling, something Republicans normally rail against!
These new regulations would apply to all state workers except for the police, firefighters and state troopers. If there is a difference between all the other public union employees (such as teachers) and those in public safety (such as police), it is that the latter can retire at age 50 and often pad their work hours in the last year before retirement in order to retire on 120% of their usual income.  Teachers and other public employees do not have such lucrative opportunities. 
So, why is the Republican Governor Scott Walker and the majority Republican House of Wisconsin exempting the public safety employees from their onerous legislation?  Because the police (and state troopers and firemen) tend to vote Republican while the teachers (and most other public servants) are more likely to vote Democratic.
This is a very small piece of a large, carefully orchestrated (and nation-wide) Republican operation to totally destroy the Democratic Party and to create what Karl Rove boasted about a decade ago:  A Permanent Republican Majority.
Keep in mind that, in our last two elections, seven of the ten largest contributors were in support of Republican and right wing causes.  The only three to support Democratic causes were unions:  SEIU, AFSCME, and NEA.  If Republican governors and politicians can disembowel these unions, they will be well on the way to achieving Karl Rove’s goal.  What is happening in Wisconsin is only the most visible of several similar attempts to destroy public service unions over the last few weeks.
If Americans remain committed to living in a real democracy, I urge them to march, write letters and become active in other ways in the politics of this country, local and national.  

Today, we have a Republican Party, beholden to large corporations which now can fund elections with impunity (thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizen United v. Federal Election Committee), and a Democratic Party that could soon lose its main counterbalancing financial support if toady governors like Scott Walker have their way.  Folks, this is serious.  Our democracy is in jeopardy.


  1. I am thrilled to read your blog and I want to challenge you to keep stirring the pot, Tyko! I fear our democracy is not just in jeopardy, but we have become what we purport to disdain: human rights violators. Please see Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948):

    "Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests."

  2. Thank you, Todd, and I am happy to receive the url to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I know of it, but have not read through it until just now. What you quote is actually article 23 (for anyone else who looks for it), and Todd is absolutely right--what Governor Walker is doing in Wisconsin makes him, indeed, and those who follow him human rights violators.

    Reading through the Declaration, I see several other examples where our country is also violating human rights. It's discouraging to see how many politicians embrace actions that contradict a document as sacred as this (and let's add our Constitution as well).

  3. Oops! My bad. I have had Articles 23 and 25 on the brain lately because I am unemployed and lacking health insurance. I just hope these comments will spur people to read the UDHR.