Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Strategy in Wisconsin

I have previously opined that the Republican state senators in Wisconsin should hive off the collective bargaining portion of the bill and pass it without the Democrats present. This would take the air out of the issue and let the Democrats return. James Lindgren who frequently contributes to Volokh, has the same idea in an editorial on NRO. So far, the state Senate majority leader, Scott Fitzgerald (pictured) has declined to take this approach. The reasoning may be that some of his colleagues may be loathe to vote for a measure that strips the collective bargaining privilege unless it is wrapped in a larger budget vote. In my opinion, this is correct, although another reason is that they may not want to go on record as either in favor or against the measure, fearing a Tea Party challenge in the primary if they vote no, but an electoral defeat in the fall if they vote yes.

Regardless, the State Senate could pass the hived off bill without the Democrats present for legal reasons discussed in the article. There are principled reasons for doing so as well.
Making democracy work can be a difficult task, especially if some actors refuse to perform the duties with which they were entrusted by the people. Yet aggressive approaches that try to punish senators or protesters may backfire. The governor and the legislators who remain should do everything they can to get the business of the legislature done, with or without the Democrats. Responsible legislators should worry less about protesters and wayward senators and do their own jobs, passing the parts of the statute that don’t need Democratic support. This is not just a matter of strategy; it is a matter of principle. Instead of obsessing about who is not there and why one can’t do what one wants to do, those who remain should focus on the task at hand. If the Republicans believe that changes are needed to repair Wisconsin’s budget, they should enact most of those changes now.
Here, here. And it would remove the public relations disaster that the protests have become.

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