Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wisconsin, Obamacare and the Power of the Vote!

By David Terry

The Democrats seem to have extraordinarily short term memories and a very convenient view of compromise in this Wisconsin situation. They are complaining because Governor Scott Walker and the Republicans in the State Houses are pushing though legislation without compromising with the Democrats. Considering they gave the Democrats 60 hours to speak their mind in the State Assembly before the vote doesn't seem to count as having their say. This follows a campaign where Governor Walker clearly campaigned on limiting state unions and cutting back on benefits for state workers. The people of Wisconsin spoke clearly and gave Governor Walker a 6% win in the general election. This was basically the same spread as between President Obama and John McCain.   
Looking back to the Obamacare debate last year looks very similar to the situation in Wisconsin today. President Obama felt he had a strong mandate for change and pushed through Obamacare with no regard for the disagreements of the Republicans across the country. Polls across the country showed significant opposition to Obamacare and every town hall meeting featured citizens clearly opposed to the new law. The Republicans met with the President and offered many potential changes to the law in a bipartisan fashion which the President and the Democrat controlled Congress ignored. The difference is President Obama campaigned on a platform of inclusion and bipartisanship, saying that he wanted everyone to come to the table and agree on positive changes for the country. Governor Walker made it clear this was his intention from the start, and the people voted for him anyway.
Now let's look at today's situation in Wisconsin. The Democratic Senators from the State Senate have fled the state like small children who didn't get their way at the backyard baseball game and ran away crying while taking their bat and ball and going home. Tens of thousands of protestors have called in sick to work, shutting down schools across the state because their benefit packages are more important than the students they have committed to educating. The Democrats are busing protestors who don't even live in Wisconsin to the protests.
So when the Democrats cry foul, it's very difficult to pay attention. You can't have your cake and eat it too. If you want to ignore the Republicans and push through your agenda then you can't complain when the Republicans return the favor. The Republicans took their beating in Congress and then took the issue to the voters. What they got in return from the voters was a massive defeat of the Democrats in the 2010 elections. The Wisconsin voters turned the Governors' office and both state houses over to the Republicans. That sounds like a pretty clear mandate to me. It's time for the Democrats in Wisconsin to get back to work. They have the same ability to take it to the voters in the next election and see how their agenda plays out.
In the end it is all about the power of the vote! Our elected representatives run on a platform they hope the majority of voters will agree with. If they win they get to go enact the laws the way they see fit. Then in 2, 4 or 6 years depending on the job the voters get to tell you how you did by voting. We have the longest running government system on the planet or a reason. The representative republic works, it's time for the politicians to let it work and then have the faith to let the voters decide if they like it or not.    

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