Run Away! Run Away!
By John D. Turner
5 Mar 2011

What do you do when the nice cozy powerbase that you have enjoyed for decades is suddenly gone? What do you do when the election results are in and, horror of horrors, the Republicans are now in charge?

What do you do when that Republican candidate, the one who ran on a promise of balancing the budget not by taxing the rich, but by addressing the structural problems causing the deficit, like runaway public pensions and healthcare benefits; what do you do when he actually wins, becomes the governor, and begins doing what he promised while on campaign?

Well apparently, if you are Democrats in Wisconsin, you simply run away; abandon your constituents; pick up your marbles and not just run home, but flee for the border. You do this to defend your constituent’s rights.

That is what has happened in Wisconsin (and in Indiana as well). The Wisconsin state senate, like most legislative bodies, requires a quorum to be present for a vote to be taken. The Wisconsin state senate requires 20 state senators for a quorum). There are 19 Republicans; one too few. As long as all the Democrat senators stay away, the Republicans, who are in the majority, cannot vote on this issue.

Other business cannot be taken care of either, but apparently, the ability for public sector employees to conduct collective bargaining on matters of pension and health care benefits trumps anything else happening legislatively in the state; trumps even their ever-worsening budget situation which triggered this situation in the first place. In fact, it may lead to lay-offs among those very public sector union employees the Democrats have left to protect. But, better to throw an unlucky few to the wolves than to lose the “right” to suck an ever increasing amount of dough from the public trough.

You have to support those who fund your re-election campaigns after all, even if the last election was a major loss.

So who voted for Scott Walker in the last election anyway? Who put Republicans in charge in Wisconsin? These elected officials are doing exactly what they campaigned on, so where is the surprise?

When Obama sailed into office, and the Democrats in the House and Senate were swept back into power with overwhelming majorities, we were told that “elections have consequences.” “We won. Suck it up Republicans. The people have spoken.”

Well, the people spoke in Wisconsin in November 2010. What happened to “elections have consequences?”

If you believe that these demonstrations in Wisconsin are a “spontaneous, grass-roots uprising”, well, did you know that you just won the Irish sweepstakes? And if you give me $10,000 for my trouble I can get you hooked up with your winnings.

Don’t be fooled. Walker and the other Republicans campaigned on this issue. The Democrats and the unions knew that this was going to happen. Do you think they haven’t been making plans on what to do since before the election results were finalized, when polling data showed Walker likely to win? It’s called a “contingency plan.” And the unions would have been foolish not to have one.

And don’t even get me started on the sister demonstrations in Ohio and other places. It has been reported in the media that these are being orchestrated by the DNC and the White House. President Obama is concerned about unions; for their continued health, not about curtailing their power. Budget problems – no problem! He has a fix for that; buckets full of cash, borrowed from China.

Members of the Communist Party of the USA have been demonstrating in Wisconsin on behalf of the unions, showing “solidarity” with their brothers and sisters. Are these the sort of folks you want demonstrating on your side? What does that say about your side?

This is not the first time this has happened. Back in May 2003, house Democrats in Texas fled for the border. The situation was similar, although the specifics differed.

In January 2003, Republicans took control in the Texas house for the first time in 130 years. Think about that. 130 years. Wow. We have states that haven't even been states for 130 years. So here you are, a Democrat, a minority in the house for the first time in over living memory. The Republicans are coming. Oh the humanity!

And what were those dastardly Republicans up to, causing the Democrats so much heartburn?

They wanted to redistrict.

Well hey, the Democrats had controlled the redistricting process for the past 130 years. Now it’s our turn. What’s the problem anyway? Elections have consequences, don’t you know?

Of course, allowing Republicans to gerrymander the districts in Texas would totally destroy the careful gerrymandering the Texas Democrats had been doing for the past 130 years. In fact, the Democrats expected that if the Republican plan went through they would lose at least four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2004 elections. This was not to be born.

And so they left. It took three legislative sessions, the regular session and two special sessions, called by the Governor to specifically address the redistricting issue, before they finally came back and a vote could be taken.

I wonder what the repercussions are for not showing up for work if you are a state politician. Do you still get paid? Are you put on LWOP? Who pays those hotel, food, and booze bills? Certainly you are not fired. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a job where you could just pick up stakes and get away for an extended period and not be on leave?

And while we are on the subject of repercussions, what about all those teachers in Wisconsin who suddenly and mysteriously turned up sick, unable to teach their classes? In fact, classes had to be canceled due to a sudden teacher shortage. Interesting sickness; seems it caused them to travel to Madison and stage a protest. They were sick alright – sick of Walker. But is that a valid illness that you can take sick leave for?

Apparently it is. No one appears to be getting fired.

Now one would think that feigning an illness in order to attend some other activity would get you in trouble. Most of us would be in trouble if we called in sick and went fishing, for instance. That’s an abuse of sick leave. People have been fired for such.

Not apparently, if you are a union member and engaged in a “good” cause, like advancing your union’s agenda; “Fighting for your rights,” as it were.

And apparently it is a valid illness, backed up by doctor’s excuses. At least there are doctors there as well, supporting their sister unions, writing doctor’s excuses on demand for those stalwarts on the front lines of democracy. And stalwarts they are. I have heard them on TV insisting that it really isn’t about their pensions or their health care; they are “standing up for their rights to bargain collectively, and for democracy.” Just like those fine folks in Egypt.

You remember the protesters in Egypt? The ones who just toppled their government?

And what kind of lesson does this send to their students, those young “skulls full of mush” they are supposed to be imbuing with knowledge? That is what they get paid for you know, even if that isn’t what they are doing. Sick leave is paid time off.

Let’s see. It’s ok to lie if lying supports your cause. (Calling in sick when you are not and then using the time to advance some other agenda). It’s OK to call in sick when you are not sick, and then use the time to do whatever it is that you want to do. As long as you get a doctor’s excuse, everything is ok; and it’s ok to get a bogus doctor’s excuse to CYA, as long as you can get a sympathetic doctor to write one. That’s the teachers.

For the doctors, hey, it’s only a piece of paper. You are only engaging in fraud and aiding and abetting those engaged in fraud; who cares, right? It’s for a good cause. Professional ethics? Hey, it’s not like you cut off the wrong leg or overbilled an insurance company or the government or anything. Besides, Republicans are all hate-filled fascists screwing the poor teachers out of a decent living, right?

It would be nice if we could have everything. It would be nice if we had the money to fund everything and everyone could have all the benefits they wanted. But the real world doesn’t work that way.

When I was a kid, sometimes we would get into a fight while playing. Sometimes it would lead to a real physical battle. Sometimes we would just “pick up our marbles and go home.”

When did this become the way politics was handled in our country? Where are the adults?