Wednesday, June 12, 2013

#NotMyWisconsin -- lack of decorum at the Capitol demonstrates how low Republicans can go

Wisconsin GOP, under Gov. Walker's leadership, is sinking our state

"I've been in the Legislature over 50 years, through different majorities and different minorities...

... and I have never experienced the abuse of power by the majority party that I experienced today."

-State Sen. Fred Risser

Wisconsin, as we know it and love it, is falling apart.

Politically speaking, Wisconsin was once considered a wonderful place, where liberals and conservatives could be bitterly divided in the Capitol, yet still have time to put aside their differences for a beer across the street on the square.

Mike Ellis loses it as he refuses to allow debate
And while being divided on the floors of the legislature, Democrats and Republicans alike still had a sense of decorum, of understanding that our differences made our state stronger.

That changed with the inauguration of Gov. Scott Walker. His attack on workers signaled a drastic departure from respectful dialogue.

Instead of finding the middle ground, Walker refused to budge on the issue of collective bargaining for state employees, preferring instead for his friends in the legislature to pass the bill in the dead of night, violating procedural rules in the process.

A lot of good compromises were offered during the protests of 2011. None were considered -- not even an offer of dialogue proposed -- by Scott Walker and his Republican allies.

The attacks didn’t end there, and the methods of passing controversial bills without consideration for the rest of the state continued. In two short years, Wisconsin Republicans have attacked health care for the poor, tax credits for minimum wage-earners, funding for public education, access and ease of voting for the citizenry, and more recently intruding on the rights of women when it comes to their reproductive health.

That’s just the short list, an abbreviated version of what state Republicans, under the leadership of Scott Walker, have done. I could go on and on with a long story of how those actions have and will cause problems for Wisconsinites down the line.

But right now, I want to focus on what happened today. The actions of Republicans in the legislature today, of ending debate abruptly, of disregarding established norms and rules of legislating, highlights the problems and difficulties that we are at odds with.

Debate was cut short, and only two lawmakers were allowed to speak, before a vote on a controversial bill took place. Senate President Mike Ellis, who broke his gavel while trying to shout down Democratic legislators’ objections, made it clear: “Sit down, you’re not recognized!”

And that’s the point, isn’t it? The Republicans refuse to recognize objections. They refuse to listen to studies, to questions from citizens and analyses from experts alike, and have tossed all reasonable discourse out the window.

Is this the Wisconsin you voted for? Is this the Republican Party that a majority a minority of Wisconsinites put into power last fall?

This most certainly isn’t the kind of government we want for our state. A legislature that doesn’t listen to its constituents, much less its own members, is a failure. More importantly, it’s an affront to democracy, and an embarrassing depiction of how far our state has fallen since Gov. Walker and his ilk have taken office.



  1. This perfectly describes what's happening in Madison over the past 2 years. It is shameful and despicable and the public has to become aware of how their rights, freedoms and well being are being destroyed.

  2. Seriously? The Democrats are talking about decorum? Does that explain their orange T-shirts? Their silence over Segway Boy and Miles Kristan pouring beer on Robin Vos? Demanding that the governor go to Rockford, Illinois, to talk to them? Of disrupting the Special Olympics ceremony? Of trying to close down a bank on the Capitol Square? Of the drum circles and Woodstock-style commune in our Capitol? Of Brett Hulsey trying to commandeer the governor's microphone? My friend, we just had two elections -- the 2012 version confirmed the election two years previous -- the one before the redistricting, BTW.

    1. David, thank you for the reply. Most of what you are describing are not actions taken by the Democrats (with the exception of Hulsey). We do not judge Republicans on their extreme elements except in cases of where extremism occurs among their ranks (e.g. when actual Republicans are being extreme or support extreme actions of their base).

      I'm not saying by any means that the Democrats are saints. But how is an orange shirt an act against decorum? It's a statement, really. And asking Scott Walker to talk to them in Illinois? Well say what you will about their departure, but at least the Dems still tried to the end for talks.

      As far as the actions of extremists you describe, most Democrats decried those as well. I myself was ashamed of Vos' s beer can find proof of that elsewhere on this very blog.

      What's disturbing is what means actual Republican legislators are taking to reach their ends. It's frightening to believe that most Wisconsinites would endorse this sort of behavior, and I truly doubt they do.