During last year's midterm elections, no state in the union was more effective at ousting Democrat leadership than Wisconsin. Voters gave Republicans the keys to the kingdom providing a strong central command in both chambers of the state legislature. Yet some have refused to play nicely in accordance to the principles of an orderly democracy.
Mass recalls in the badger state were initially spurred by the Rockford 14 who had taken flight to Illinois to avoid a vote on Governor Walker's budget repair bill. But November's election has consequences. During a massive budgetary shortfall, Wisconsin voted for leaders on the theme of rightsizing government. And now we're supposed to be surprised that a Governor, who campaigned on bringing government workers in line with the private sector, does what he had promised he would do.
Recently, Governor Walker told Wisconsin that the state was broke and that fiscal austerity was inevitable. But Walker's bill does more than authorize austere measures, it strips government unions of their right to bargain over legacy items. As a former County Executive, Walker understands all too well that the right of unions to bargain over employee benefits hamstrings the ability municipal and county governments to correct budgetary imbalances. He also knows it's difficult to make the necessary cuts in shared revenue without giving local governments the tools to prevent massive layoffs.
From a more political standpoint, Walker's budget-repair bill is somewhat of a poison pill for labor as it provides employees the right to forgo representation. Little by little, unions could hemorrhage members if they do not offer quality representation. A more deadly provision is the one that requires annual majority-vote elections to re-certify union organizations. Both provisions of the bill could choke off considerable revenue to labor unions while indirectly de-funding the campaign coffers of Wisconsin Democrats.
It appears that everything is at stake. Activist groups are conducting recall drives on Senators in vulnerable districts. At this point, it's really the only tool - besides using the courts - for Democrats to stymie Governor Scott Walker's conservative agenda. (Rumors also have it that there is an organized effort to recall Republican Senators before any redistricting can be performed.)
Ultimately, there appears to be two sets of rules: a set for Republicans and a set for Democrats. When they were in the minority, Republicans had to rely on Tea Party groups to generate opposition. They did this by pressuring legislators through town halls, phone calls, and emails. It was a traditional and legitimate democratic process. Yet when Democrats occupy the minority, they depend on unions to conduct so-called "sickouts" effectively paralyzing entire school districts for days. Democrat leaders exacerbate things by fleeing to to Rockford halting the legislative operations of government for weeks. Both cowardly contrivances have cost the state taxpayers millions.
Despite what some unions have told their members, it wasn't Wall Street that caused Wisconsin's fiscal woes. Clearly some states have fared better than others, so blaming a the fiscal problems unique to Wisconsin on a national recession is clearly a partisan attempt to shelter Democrat leaders from due criticism.