Have you ever gotten yourself so inside an argument that no longer resembled the argument you started, but just needed to win, no matter how stupid it looks to those on the outside?
I think that’s what happened at the Capitol in Madison last night as the Republican Senate jammed through legislation to curb union negotiating rights.
Now, I’m no friend of unions. They have their place, but I think they’ve turned into political organizations, not labor organizations. I believe they inflate the costs of goods and services, not because of payroll, but work rules and pensions. I believe they cost jobs, not save them.
That said, our state government has acted like the petulant lot they’ve become, more interested in winning the point, than negotiating the proper future. They need to start representing us, and not the special interest groups that seem to be pulling the strings.
It was interesting to hear how John Erpenbach, the senator from Waunakee, and now TV star, was completely unaware of the negotiating between the governor’s office and the Senate 14 who fled to Illinois. His leadership didn’t seem to think it was necessary to brief him with information that might have been helpful in solving this mess. It seems his leadership was being directed from another venue, and it wasn’t Wisconsin.
And why, exactly, did the Senate 14 find it necessary to legislate from Illinois. They don’t deserve to be considered if they feel that the proper route is to run our government as a hostage situation.
And, in listening to the non-debate that occurred last night prior to the bill being passed, the yelling and shouting in the chambers sounded like something you’d be hearing outside the building from protesters, not inside the building where cooler heads should prevail.
Shame on the Republican Party for not allowing some notice to get this done. An ethical approach would have been to allow a day’s notice. But, ethics didn’t seem to be important last night.
They had every right to pass this legislation, but they didn’t have to look like thugs doing it.
You don’t have to like what they did, but you have to respect our laws. The opportunity will come in two years to reverse this, like any other law.
This has been an embarrassing few weeks for our state. What used to be held up as a model for clean government has been tarnished in a way that will be difficult to reverse.
They were all wrong. And they all deserve their piece of the blame. We deserve better.