Rally, Capitol, 11 am.

by Harry on March 10, 2011

The Senate passed the bill in a minute today. The process was very unusual, and seems to have violated Wisconsin’s open meeting laws, but we;ll see. Democratic staffers received a notice at 4.18 pm that there would be a conference committee meeting at 6pm (24 hours notice is required by law). The conference committee split the bill—so that the collective bargaining part of the bill is split from the budget part and, because the collective bargaining part is not, contrary to what Walker and the Republicans were saying till 4.19, a fiscal bill, it does not require a quorum in the Senate. Normal procedure would have the Senate and Assembly pass a bill, and only then go into conference committee. But this time, having split the bill in conference, the Senate took up the bill and passed it in the space of a minute with just one, Dale Schultz, voting against.

Also violating the open meetings law, the Republicans have called an Assembly Session for 11 am tomorrow. Of course, it is entirely possible that they will begin roll call at 10.05 am, they have, after all, been doing things like that.

News got out around 5pm this evening and by 6pm people were gathering outside the Capitol. The police had declared the Capitol closed and were trying to clear it, but no-one was leaving. The numbers increased progressively and impressively over the evening and about 30 minutes ago, finally, all doors to the Capitol were opened, and the Capitol is now full of people.

I haven’t verified the rumour that the 14 are returning, but it has been going around, and makes sense. The key thing, for the moment, is this: maximize the size of the demonstration at the Capitol at 11 tomorrow (Thursday) morning. If you can get there, please do, if you know anyone within a reasonable distance, call them and ask them to come. I don’t see any prospect of a good end to this in the short term. The aim now is to ensure that the people who have passed this feel the full strength of the movement against them, and that those who are determined to defeat them in the longer run will also see that they have vast resources on their side.

{ 74 comments }

1

Christian Long 03.10.11 at 3:29 am

Sen. Erpenbach is saying (on Facebook) that the 14 are not coming home anytime soon. They are going to wait until this split bill is passed by the Assembly. If they returned now, the Republicans could still force a vote on the unsplit bill.

2

nitish 03.10.11 at 3:44 am

Is there a way I could contribute as a non-Wisconsin resident and a non-US citizen? I lived in Illinois for several years (and visited Madison a few times), but recently moved to New York. If I were still in the area, I could join the rally, go door-to-door to get recall signatures or sign up voters (which I’ve done before), but those kinds of things are difficult to do from here. It’s illegal for me (as a foreign citizen) to donate money to a political campaign. Do you have any suggestions for ways to help?

3

Daniel 03.10.11 at 3:45 am

The Republicans have outwitted you. Ha, ha, ha!

4

christian_h 03.10.11 at 4:03 am

In the long run we’re all dead, and that applies even more to the Wisconsin unions. I could care less if some Democrat is elected governor in 2014, by that time the public employee unions will be history. A massive strike is needed now, anything else amounts to surrender. Of course it might not be possible given the demobilization of worker militancy unions have long been involved in, and the way they have neglected workplace organization in favour of becoming a mere provider of services (1-800 lines instead of shop stewards etc.). But it has to be tried, imo.

5

christian_h 03.10.11 at 4:11 am

By the way do I understand correctly that the part of the bill passed does contain provisions like limiting pay increases to the CPI without public vote? How is this not a fiscal provision?

6

Kristen 03.10.11 at 4:25 am

There are mixed reports on whether or not the collective bargaining portion could be considered a “fiscal” provision or not. I think the lawyers will all be very busy with this in the upcoming days. But it was definitely an interesting afternoon/evening in Madison. Stay tuned….

7

Brad 03.10.11 at 5:07 am

Any details on this rally? I’m a Wisconsin native and my parents are still in-state, though it would be a very long drive for them.

8

Christopher Phelps 03.10.11 at 7:29 am

I think this is the best possible outcome for the moment. The numbers were not going our way. It would have been so much more demoralizing had they peeled one Democrat or two away, to come back, tails between legs. And to have done it in this rush shows they feared the likelihood of a mass mobilization if their intentions were clearly apprehended. They have forced it through, rammed it through, against tradition, common sense, and polls, and people will now remember this, many with a great righteous anger and conviction to reverse it when possible.

9

Steve LaBonne 03.10.11 at 11:39 am

I think and hope that Christopher Phelps has it right. They are either exposed as liars for having claimed that this is a necessary fiscal adjustment, or else they have illegally passed a fiscal measure without the required quorum. And due to the latter consideration this is guaranteed to be tied up in court for a while, during which time the recall campaign will continue to gather steam.

Maybe grotesque overreach by the right is what it takes to wake people up in this country. They were doing much better with the boiled-frog approach.

10

Davis X. Machina 03.10.11 at 11:40 am

They have forced it through, rammed it through, against tradition, common sense, and polls…

Money changes everything. Vox pecuniae vox Dei.

And as Jay Gould used to say “I can always hire half the working class to shoot the other half.”

11

Harry 03.10.11 at 11:52 am

The only details I have are what I’ve given, that people are wanted to demonstrate outside or inside the Capitol at 11 am. Emails have been going round so word is reasonably well out. Just two things:
1. MTI is not endorsing any sort of work stoppage, and have told the Superintendent that they expect the schools to be open today. My guess is that 20% or so of the membership will defy this.
2. A high school student walkout is expected at 10 am — at least from East and West — and they’ll march to the Capitol to arrive by 11. Time to write that excused absence note.

12

Brett Bellmore 03.10.11 at 12:21 pm

“If they returned now, the Republicans could still force a vote on the unsplit bill.”

If they return at ANY time, the Republicans can force a vote on the unsplit bill. Passage of the split bill doesn’t preclude that. To keep it from passing, they have to stay out of the state, every last one of them, pretty much until the next election.

At some point, if they don’t return, I expect there’s going to be a move to declare their seats abandoned, and schedule elections to fill them again.

13

Harry 03.10.11 at 12:57 pm

You are extraordinary Brett. Of course the Republicans could do that. But they have already declared that they were lying for three whole weeks, they have already ceded one Supreme Court race (Prosser must be livid!) — I don’t think they really want to make themselves look worse than they already do. Or maybe I’m wrong — lets hope so!

14

joe koss 03.10.11 at 1:27 pm

15

markg 03.10.11 at 1:27 pm

I encourage anyone who wants to help to contribute money to the recall efforts through Act Blue. The recalls are really where the fight centers right now. Independent of the union busting, there is the atrocity of Walker’s pending budget proposal for the next two years, which constitutes an all out attack on education, social services, reproductive rights, and the environment, once again in the guise of the so-called fiscal crisis. The upcoming supreme court race is also extremely important, as it is a chance to remove the rubber-stamping republican majority on the court. I hope the challenger can get her message out and succeed.

16

Andrew 03.10.11 at 1:49 pm

Well I hope the rally numbers are very high.

One way or the other, this outcome seemed likely. The Republicans had a majority, and “filibuster by absence” should be a temporary measure. For better or worse – and worse here – democratic process demands that the legislature ultimately moves forward.

The hard part will be winning with sufficient numbers next election to restore what the GOP will have destroyed. I hope there’s the beginnings of a game-plan in place. Nothing like a wall behind one’s back to push one forward.

17

chris 03.10.11 at 2:16 pm

I think this is the best possible outcome for the moment.

I disagree — I think it was a desperate move to prevent a couple more Rs from joining the Schultz compromise, which would have been a far better outcome for the people of Wisconsin.

18

Christopher Phelps 03.10.11 at 2:42 pm

What’s your evidence for that supposition? All the Republicans but for Schultz voted to put the thing through. None abstained or failed to show up for the vote. All voted for it. If I thought a compromise were in the works, I’d agree with you, but apart from Schultz I see no evidence that this was at all within the realm of possibility.

To me this looks all about forcing through the measure to put an end to the protests and end the stalemate. In other words, it’s all about victory, pure and simple.

19

polyorchnid octopunch 03.10.11 at 2:55 pm

I would say that it’s time for the workers of wisconsin to call a general strike, and to try to get as many people both in and out of unions (and even outside the worker community… small business owners who are totally doomed against large corporations like store owners and the like might also be a good sector to work on) to participate. Close the whole state down for a week and put as many people in Madison as possible.

They don’t care about you, they don’t care what you think, and they don’t care if it’s legal… they’re just out to take everything they possibly can from all of you who aren’t in the club.

20

christian_h 03.10.11 at 3:00 pm

I’m still baffled as to how you all think this can be reversed whenever Wisconsin gets around to throwing Walker out. Once the unions are defunded and quite possibly decertified, it won’t be trivial to get them back in anything like their current form.

21

Margaret 03.10.11 at 3:04 pm

Does anyone know exactly what is in the bill the Senate Republicans passed? Everyone knows that the union-busting stuff is all in and apparently from what I have read the provisions about healthcare and pension contributions. So what made the original bill “fiscal” that got taken out? I know the bill passed without reading or discussion, so maybe nobody yet knows.

22

polyorchnid octopunch 03.10.11 at 3:05 pm

As an aside… it helps that the cops and firefighters are on your side (tank guy vs. tank commander). I suggest you use them as well.

Seriously, if not now, when? If nothing happens, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the American People as widely understood have decided to lie down.

23

Christopher Phelps 03.10.11 at 3:10 pm

Margaret – I think if the bill does not authorize specific state expenditures then it is not considered fiscal. My sense from afar reading the press accounts is that the way this will be legally challenged will be on the open government laws rather than on the question of whether it was a fiscal measure. They seem not to have proceeded by the book in Wisconsin procedural law.

24

Christopher Phelps 03.10.11 at 3:12 pm

Christian H – You may well be entirely right. Bear in mind, though, that the Dems have an incentive here to restore the status quo ante given the importance of public unions in both campaign financing and independent get out the vote efforts, especially given Wisconsin’s status as a perennially contested state.

25

Harry 03.10.11 at 3:19 pm

I have the bill, Margaret, and will email it to you… But my sense is that CP is right about this. I think they’re going to have a hard time with open meetings.

26

Harry 03.10.11 at 3:23 pm

27

christian_h 03.10.11 at 3:29 pm

Christopher, yes the Democrats have that incentive. But this wasn’t quite my point – even if the law is returned to its previous status three years down the road, the unions as organization may well be gone beyond easy repair. That’s why I agree with polyorchnid octopunch that this is the time to gamble on a general strike. It may not work, but it’s do-or-die time imo.

28

Sev 03.10.11 at 3:39 pm

#10 And as Jay Gould used to say “I can always hire half the working class to shoot the other half.”

Possibly this time around they’ll do it on a volunteer basis.

29

Christopher Phelps 03.10.11 at 3:41 pm

See if this works for what Harry was trying to link @26

http://thewheelerreport.com/releases/March11/0309/0309lfbamendment.pdf

30

Davis X. Machina 03.10.11 at 3:50 pm

@sev.

Making sure that gun owners think of themselves as gun owners, before anything else, before thinking of themselves as workers, managers or owners, before thinking of themselves as conservative or liberal, turns out to have been time and effort well-spent.

Why buy the cow Freikorps….?

31

Christopher Phelps 03.10.11 at 3:53 pm

32

chris 03.10.11 at 3:55 pm

To me this looks all about forcing through the measure to put an end to the protests and end the stalemate.

Well, yeah — because the continuation of the stalemate was putting other Republicans under pressure to join Schultz and end the stalemate. There was already one visible route out of the stalemate, that’s why Walker needed to find another to prevent people from taking the first one.

Assuming that no other Republican could possibly have joined Schultz ever seems like a pretty extraordinary assumption in a bluish-purple state like Wisconsin.

33

Christopher Phelps 03.10.11 at 3:59 pm

So in other words you don’t have any actual evidence that any of them were wavering, right? And you don’t deny that every single one of them besides Schultz voted for the bill against collective bargaining?

34

Henri Vieuxtemps 03.10.11 at 4:19 pm

even if the law is returned to its previous status three years down the road, the unions as organization may well be gone beyond easy repair

It’s not just that, I think it’s simply a matter of whether in this situation these unions can take a stand and win or they can’t. If they can’t, then they are gone; politicians won’t help.

35

Mark Field 03.10.11 at 4:31 pm

Brett is right. Once the Dems return, the Republicans will eliminate legal challenges to the split bill by putting the same clauses into the budget bill and passing it.

In short, IT’S A TRAP!

36

Margaret Atherton 03.10.11 at 4:37 pm

My thought originally as I think I may have said is that the bill was vulnerable under the open meetings law, but Fitzgerald is going on about emergencies and that all they needed was two hours (which they may not quite have made in any case). I don’t know what the basis for this claim is supposed to be. There is a rumor floating down my corridor that they are going to pass a bill changing the recall law, which in Wisconsin right now is relatively open, to say that you can only be recalled if you have committed a crime.

37

Christopher Phelps 03.10.11 at 4:52 pm

If they do that it really will be tearing up the grave of La Follette.

38

christian_h 03.10.11 at 4:55 pm

Walker’s starting to look like Berlusconi. Don’t like some legal issue? Have your patsies pass a law making it go away… As Henri says, this is crunch time for the unions. If they fail to stand up to this all-out attack they will have completed there retreat into a service provider (as opposed to an organized expression of solidarity).

39

chris 03.10.11 at 4:57 pm

So in other words you don’t have any actual evidence that any of them were wavering, right?

And you don’t have any actual evidence that they weren’t. I guess it’s time to call in the telepaths.

Well, maybe we could subpoena Schultz’s phone records, to see if any of his colleagues turn up in them, but I doubt if they’re covered by FOIA (although arguably they ought to be). And even then it wouldn’t positively prove what they said. So what other kind of “actual evidence” did you have in mind, if you’re opposed to the inference that public pressure might affect the actions of elected officials?

40

joe koss 03.10.11 at 5:05 pm

fyi, The UpTake has had continous live coverage of the events at the capitol since last night.
See:
http://www.livestream.com/theuptake

41

Christopher Phelps 03.10.11 at 5:21 pm

Chris – I don’t sense further exchange will get us anywhere, so I’ll leave you with the last word. I’ll just say that I’m not going on telepathy. I’m going on how they voted.

42

Brett Bellmore 03.10.11 at 5:37 pm

“but Fitzgerald is going on about emergencies and that all they needed was two hours (which they may not quite have made in any case).”

Apparently the actual rule simply requires posting on the bulletin board, which was done more than two hours before the vote, while a courtesy email was sent out slightly less than two hours before the vote.

My sense of this is that procedural challenges are not going to work. Courts give legislative majorities an insane degree of deference with regards to the internal workings of the legislature, (See the enrolled bill rule, for instance.) and this was not the sort of clear cut violation the courts would think overcomes that.

43

mds 03.10.11 at 5:37 pm

That’s why I agree with polyorchnid octopunch that this is the time to gamble on a general strike. It may not work, but it’s do-or-die time imo.

Yup, because the stripped-down bill explicitly authorizes state officials to fire any state employee who joins a strike, walk-out, sit-in, or coordinated effort to call in sick. So it’s crunch time for people power. Will an authoritarian state destroy the right of association and the ability to collectively counterbalance government power for ordinary Wisconsinites, or not?

44

mds 03.10.11 at 5:44 pm

And before all the sycophantic cheerleading for authoritarianism, tyranny of the legislative majority, and destruction of a collective working-class counterweight to state power gets people upset at “libertarianism” again, I would remind CT’ers that there are left-libertarians such as Kevin Carson who are not useful idiots for corporatism and Berlusconi-style “democracy.”

45

mds 03.10.11 at 5:47 pm

… and yes, I learned my HTML from a lazy, parasitic, money-grubbing public-school teacher; hence the inadvertent strikethrough.

46

Tim Worstall 03.10.11 at 5:59 pm

“Will an authoritarian state destroy the right of association and the ability to collectively counterbalance government power for ordinary Wisconsinites, or not?”

Slightly de trop there. They’ve said that public sector workers in Wisconsin lose some of their rights to freedom of association: putting them on a par with federal workers, no?

“Ordinary” Wisconsinites (and I assume but don’t know that either the mean or median such does not actually work for the public sector) haven’t had their rights changed one whit.

And if we were to take your statement literally:

“Will an authoritarian state destroy the right of association and the ability to collectively counterbalance government power for ordinary Wisconsinites, or not?”

Then you seem to be saying that they’ve just outlawed the Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, Republican, Libertarian, Green Parties and all to boot. All of which are free associations and all of which (to taste, to be sure) at times do bits to counterbalance government power.

If free association were to be banned I’d be right with you on the barricades. But that union negotation power in the public sector only gets limited in the same manner that it already is in other parts of the US? You’re using slightly overblown rhetoric, don’t you think?

47

Rich Puchalsky 03.10.11 at 6:02 pm

mds is a great person, and Kevin Carson is a fine person, but Kevin Carson is one guy. I’ve never liked to see him held up as if he represents a group. It happens over and over, and I don’t like the idea that if Kevin didn’t exist, the libertarians would want to create someone just like him so that they could point to him.

And before Anarcho explains again that U.S. libertarians are really propertarians who stole the name from anarcho-socialists, yes, they did, and in the U.S. they got away with it, because the definition of words comes from common usage.

Which is to say that yes, libertarians in the U.S. are indeed cheering on their favorite authoritarians as they always do. I even popped over to Henley’s blog and read Thoreau beginning to explain why he didn’t think that public employees unions were real unions, after which I stopped because I’m trying not to troll there.

Back to the rally. I’m a long way away, but I’ll try to do something.

48

tomslee 03.10.11 at 6:12 pm

“Ordinary” Wisconsinites (and I assume but don’t know that either the mean or median such does not actually work for the public sector) haven’t had their rights changed one whit.

I guess you mean that a majority of workers do not work for the public sector? It is still the case that those who do are “ordinary” in the normal, everyday sense, that they are far from an exceptional case. There are many varieties of ordinary citizens.

And if we were to take your statement literally…

Your reading is overly narrow for a blog comment. I knew exactly what mds is saying, and I’m sure you did too. If you have substantive disagreements, then I hope you voice them, but this is splitting hairs, no?

49

christian_h 03.10.11 at 6:13 pm

Of course there are many many reasons why going on strike is too risky. If I was in the position of having to feed a family and walking out could get me fired I’d think twice. Unless, that is, I could be sure that most of my colleagues also walked off the job. The point of a strike being in the first place that Walker cannot in fact send in the National Guard to teach classes, put out fires, and do all the other things public workers do. Firing one person is easy. Firing everyone – not so much.

And this is exactly why the business, “social partnership” unionism in the US that has long relied on spending their members’ money on getting people elected and lobbying them once they are elected, falls short. A union that lacks the on-the-ground organization to strike – and strike if necessary without the official union calling for it (to avoid decertification for endorsing illegal strikes) is only half a union.

50

christian_h 03.10.11 at 6:15 pm

Free association isn’t free if certain forms of it are for practical intents and purposes banned. According to Tim Worstall’s logic, there is practically no place on earth that doesn’t allow “free association” or for that matter “free speech”.

51

Salient 03.10.11 at 6:29 pm

But that union negotation power in the public sector only gets limited in the same manner that it already is in other parts of the US?

That’s weirdly stated. I mean, I could use the form of that argument to argue for a law/amendment banning freedom of speech against the government on the grounds that it’s only limiting the right to free speech in the same manner that it already is in other parts of the world.

It’s quite weird and unfortunate that public-sector workers anywhere are prohibited from participating in various kinds of collective negotiations with their employers related to their compensation and the terms of their job. It seems like it ought to be a basic human right to be able to get together with one’s coworkers and bargain as a collective with one’s employer; it’s a mild extension of freedom of speech. (With far-reaching consequences when upheld.) And if one doesn’t have that right, then one doesn’t have the “right to associate” and form groups.

My dad joined the public sector decades ago. The terms of his employment were hashed out then. To remove his ability to engage with his coworkers in negotiating fair compensation for his work, and grant his employer the unilateral right to determine his working conditions post-hoc, is quite unfair. Since in WI that has already meant (for example) demanding that he work for free on his furlough days in a law-enforcement position while not officially on-the-job (so if something goes wrong he’s personally liable*), I feel pretty confident that “unfair” could be replaced with “disastrous for the proper functioning of the state.”

*(Technically accomplished by not allowing him to hire the subordinates he needed to hire in order to fulfill law enforcement duties, leaving him as literally the only person in the district who could fulfill those duties; since it was in his job description that he was responsible for ensuring those duties are fulfilled, he had to do them himself even while on furlough. They never out-and-out ordered him to work on days off, they just made it infeasible.)

52

mds 03.10.11 at 6:42 pm

If free association were to be banned I’d be right with you on the barricades.

Thank you for this, Mr. Worstall. With all this depressing news, I needed a good laugh.

mds is a great person

Thank you for this, Mr. Puchalsky. With all this depressing news, I needed a good laugh. That said, I have to quibble with your dismissal of Kevin Carson with “the libertarians would want to create someone just like him so that they could point to him.” As you yourself allude to, Anarcho would probably note that American right-libertarians (with a tiny number of exceptions) don’t even acknowledge that Kevin Carson and his fellow mutualists exist. The person filling the role you’re thinking of is Will “Rawls isn’t all bad” Wilkinson, aka the Extreme Left Edge of Acceptable Libertarian Thought. I wish they were pointing more to Carson, because that would be progress.

Firing one person is easy. Firing everyone – not so much.

Indeed. The Wobblies even have a new “general strike” pamplet and sample resolution. Too bad “divide and conquer” worked so well in the history of the US labor movement.

53

Jim in Madison 03.10.11 at 6:49 pm

SCFL has endorsed a general strike in the event of the passage of SB11. It is a real option. If you don’t know, SCFL is a 45,000 member union that encompasses basically all of AFSCME in SE Wisconsin as well as several private sector unions. Various unions with strong wobbly ties are also discussing sympathy strikes (check around. the main one I’m aware of is ILA in South Carolina).

If they push us to it, it will happen.

54

chris 03.10.11 at 6:52 pm

I’m going on how they voted.

By definition, that only gives you information about the end of their decisionmaking process, not the middle.

I admit that my theory is speculative, but I don’t see how you can be so confident that it’s wrong.

55

Christopher Phelps 03.10.11 at 7:16 pm

a) There were news reports that the Dems were divided on whether to go back. Some were wavering. One of them was all the Reps needed to win.

b) There is no evidence that any Reps were willing to turn, besides Schultz.

c) If it were prolonged I therefore think there was far more danger already of one or more Dems (all needed was one) to go back to Wisc. than for two (which would be needed) Reps to cave on collective bargaining.

d) The uniform willingness of all 18 Republicans besides Schultz to vote for this very dubious ramrod method of pushing it through — a clearcut and direct assault on collective bargaining unmediated by any fiscal measures, therefore not justified as budgetary but taken in isolation — shows them to not only not be wavering or hesitant but to be committed.

Honestly, Chris, I don’t see what you are saying or how it squares with the evidence. You have some fantasy land where the Dems stay out, stay unified, stay in Illinois, and two Republicans join Schultz. This despite the fact of what has happened.

Okay, now I really, truly, give up. I leave it to someone else to judge whether I or Chris has the stronger case in this.

56

Harold 03.10.11 at 7:17 pm

It’s the Berlusconi-ization of US politics.

57

joel hanes 03.10.11 at 7:34 pm

Nitish :

Since no one else seems to have answered your question about how people who aren’t allowed to contribute directly to US political campaigns can help the protests and the recall effort :

The UW Madison Teaching Assistants Association has acted as the unofficial coordinating body for the protests almost since the beginning. They are the ones organizing the cleanups of the Capitol; critically, they are the ones teaching non-violence protocols, etc. You can donate to them here

58

christian_h 03.10.11 at 8:07 pm

Christopher, I think the question Chris would like an answer to (and of course since we can’t read minds we can’t be sure what the correct answer might be) is, why did the Republicans do this? If it’s the best the Democrats could have hoped for, why do it – why not wait until a Democratic senator caved?

59

Christopher Phelps 03.10.11 at 8:10 pm

Simple: Because they want to win on the unions and because they want to pass their budget. If they take care of the first, the Dems will come back and pass the budget.

60

Christopher Phelps 03.10.11 at 8:14 pm

Plus they just want it over. They are tired of it festering. They want to win and move on. This settles it. They are under the delusion that this makes them look strong like Reagan against PATCO.

61

Christopher Phelps 03.10.11 at 8:15 pm

Signing off for the evening. Forward Wisconsin.

62

chris 03.10.11 at 8:32 pm

The Democrats would have passed the budget anyway — that’s the Schultz compromise (AFAIK). ISTM clear that the Republicans did what they did because they feared one (or two) of their own would defect first. I suppose you could make a case that they were unreasonable to fear that, but if they would have inevitably won without breaking the law, why break the law and risk the possibility that a court might actually do something about it?

It’s clear that (aside from such a court challenge) this is the best possible outcome *from the Republican point of view*, but I didn’t think that was what you meant in your comment 8. Is that just a misunderstanding?

And, of course, it seems hard to understand how the best possible outcome for Republicans can *also* be the best possible outcome for Democrats, on an issue on which they clearly do disagree quite sharply. Indeed, that would logically seem to require that no other outcome is possible, which is hard to swallow given the unexpectedness of what actually happened, not to mention the existence of the bipartisan Schultz position.

ISTM that continuation of the stalemate would have led to the bipartisan compromise exerting a sort of political gravity that would suck in politicians who just wanted the outcry to stop before someone gets recalled — an outcome Walker needed to avert, because having his own party accept a compromise he had already personally rejected would be humiliating, and vetoing a bipartisan compromise would amount to throwing himself out of the Overton Window.

63

Brett Bellmore 03.11.11 at 12:11 am

“I suppose you could make a case that they were unreasonable to fear that, but if they would have inevitably won without breaking the law, why break the law and risk the possibility that a court might actually do something about it?”

Aside from the fact that it’s not at all clear they DID break the law, the state does kind of need to have a budget. Now that the union stuff is settled, the Democrats can come back, and the budget, which actually does need at least one of them present, can be passed.

64

Harry 03.11.11 at 1:18 am

Yes, and if Walker had wanted he could have got the budget 3 weeks ago. He didn’t, he wanted to smash unions in order to ensure that working people get as little as possible of the benefits of any future growth we might enjoy. This has worked well for 30 years, and no doubt can keep on working.

65

Brett Bellmore 03.11.11 at 1:26 am

Yeah, he could have had a budget the minority liked three weeks ago. He’s got the majority on his side, why should he have settled for that? Because Democrats are supposed to automatically prevail whether they’re in the majority or minority?

66

Harry 03.11.11 at 1:56 am

Nonsense. If he had kept the union-busting bit, which he has now conceded had nothing to do with the budget, off the table, he could have had a debate and got almost all of what he wanted. They would not have done what they did over a budget bill, nor would he have aroused the largest civilian mobilisation in decades if he had simply proposed a budget; it was the bit that had nothing to do with the budget that he was determined to have. He set the priorities, so he has no right to complain, nor you on his behalf, about the delay.

There is another point. It is amazing that the bill he proposed was perfect in every word, so that it needed no scrutiny at all even by his colleagues. The man must be a genius. Or his Republican colleagues must regard him so. Or they have completely abdicated their duties as members of a governing party in order to bust the unions. Maybe that last.

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Brett Bellmore 03.11.11 at 2:14 am

“which he has now conceded had nothing to do with the budget,”

I realize that’s the talking point of the day, but to my knowledge he has conceded no such thing. Perhaps you’ve got a link to where he concedes this?

“and got almost all of what he wanted.”

He had a majority of both legislative chambers willing to vote for ALL of what he wanted. Why the hell should he have settled for almost all of it? To save the minority hurt feelings?

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Andrew 03.11.11 at 3:13 am

I agree with Brett’s take on the likelihood of a successful legal challenge @42.

Walker, politically, made the right move by sticking this out. His anti-union credentials were already cemented, whether he won or lost this fight. Those whose future vote will depend on that issue are decided. Compromise would not have altered that calculus.

Nor can I believe that compromise would have made him appear more reasonable. He had a strongly articulated, firm position, and the support of a majority of the legislature. No new facts or arguments were presented that would have allowed him to change his mind, and to allow a veto-by-absence would not have simply made him appear weak.

The unions and Democrats fought the best battle they could, and ultimately – most importantly – prepared the ground for the next fight to REPAIR the damage done.

I don’t think a general strike at this point makes any sense, especially given the risk various individuals and families take on such a venture. I’d very strongly recommend against it.

Folks, this is the way it is supposed to work. Democracy means that sometimes we don’t win. But it does mean that we’ll have another shot.

At the rally tomorrow – the protest against the bill is important – but more important is to speak about the fight ahead – and to have everyone present sign a pledge if possible, or simply repeat a pledge aloud, that they will fight, with the dedication worthy of such an important cause, to restore the rights of unions in Wisconsin; that they will remain engaged in their local political organizations, and shall devise and execute plans to win the next election, with the ultimate objective of taking back the government, and putting our legal house back in order.

In other words… people are more likely to follow through if they’ve made a verbal, or written, commitment to doing so – and then can become involved in an organization that will sustain their commitment and motivation.

We will need this energy in the fights ahead, and measures must be taken now to ensure that it is not lost.

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christian_h 03.11.11 at 3:48 am

The idea that “democracy” means that a vote of the bosses’ pet politicians can take away workers’ right to collectively organize is more than preposterous. The level of class struggle needed for a general strike is probably not there. But waiting for another set of politicians to turn back time three years down the road is not going to work. So those who are willing to fight, and sufficiently organized to do so, will have to do everything possible to sabotage the workings of the state.

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Christopher Phelps 03.11.11 at 8:19 am

My view, to clarify yet another time, is that it was a terrible outcome from the standpoint of the law and workers. Of course. But I think the moment for that outcome to be averted by Republican Senators had basically passed – Schultz wasn’t getting other takers, as demonstrated by the unanimity with which the Republicans moved the bill out of committee and through the Senate. Hence for the Dems this is a much better outcome than had it ended with one of them coming back to allow the quorum, a possibility that was more than likely in the next couple of weeks. The Republicans have made a great number of enemies. The next few years will be key, both in the courts and at the ballot box. We’ll see what happens. My sense is that the way this went down, as an outrage, as a forced solution, and as obviously against the will of the people of Wisconsin, will redound to the Dems’ benefit. Although the Dems are not my baseline. The prospect of preserving the right to a labor union is. And in the short run that was going to be lost given Walker and the nature of the GOP majority. In the long run this creates the most favorable dynamic possible for restoring it, either in the courts or at the polls.

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Margaret 03.11.11 at 3:22 pm

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this morning admitted that by the time the courts have finished with the bill, recalls may have produced a different result in the legislature. Wisconsin residents, roll up your sleeves and get those recall petitions signed.

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mds 03.11.11 at 3:50 pm

In the long run this creates the most favorable dynamic possible for restoring it, either in the courts or at the polls.

Yeah, Harry Truman vetoed the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, but Congress overrode his veto. Fortunately, a later more labor-friendly Congress repealed it. And passed the Employee Free Choice Act. Then the unicorns came.

Of course, I agree this needs to be fought on all fronts, and I haven’t given up on the polls just yet. But I’m just saying, there’s a reason for christian_h’s skepticism that this will all be rolled back by a partisan change in government. Previous governor Jim Doyle successfully prodded teachers into accepting pay cuts and unpaid workdays to partially make up for the bankers’ near-destruction of the global economy. I’m glad that Wisconsin Democrats seem to have discovered that there comes a point to stop kicking your own supporters repeatedly in the face, but I’m worried that the lesson won’t stick. Especially since Democratic majorities are somehow never free to enact absolutely whatever their base wants with no consideration for public opinion, input from the opposition party, or the rules.

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Christopher Phelps 03.11.11 at 4:02 pm

Yes, sigh: most favorable dynamic possible *under the given circumstances of an instransigent, hellbent governor and GOP majority.*

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musical mountaineer 03.11.11 at 5:05 pm

Folks, this is the way it is supposed to work. Democracy means that sometimes we don’t win.

Thank you.

But it does mean that we’ll have another shot.

Not so fast. We’d all have to agree to abide by democratic outcomes. The Wisconsin protests have established a bold new precedent, where the losers do not abide. Instead they abandon their lawful duties and resort to physical coercion and death threats.

That’s what this protest is really driving at. We’ll dispense with all these outmoded democratic institutions; end elections; get rid of legislatures, executives and courts. Whoever is most terrifying will be the law. Huzzah for mob rule and vigilante justice!

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